Full Review: ?Also known as ?The Return of Ken Shamrock's Giant Sideburns?
A little over a decade ago, the UFC, known better as Ultimate Fighting Championship, began brutalizing pay-per-view outlets around the world, riding the wave of stars like Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, Tank Abbott, and Royce Gracie (the first three all going on to be noted pro wrestlers as well). A breed of many different kinds of fighting (mixed martial arts), the UFC brought unique personalities and fighting styles to the table, and the league exploded in popularity, especially amongst wrestling fans looking for something that's actually real. UFC has slowly lost its luster recently though, with a great many of their most famous names leaving to enter Pride and K-1 championships instead. This is very noticeable with the latest PlayStation 2 UFC game, titled UFC Sudden Impact. While the submission/fighting style of play will obviously appeal to fans of the sport, the generic personalities and repetitive action will wear down non-fans. As this game is available for $20 under Take 2's budget Global Star line, it's given credit for tremendous depth, but depth can't overcome the threat of boredom.
UFC Sudden Impact is full of game modes, be it single or multiplayer for up to 2 players offline. There's actually quite a few interesting single player modes, like Arcade, which is a gauntlet-style where you go through all 30+ fighters until you either beat them all or until you get beat yourself. Tournament lets you go after one of the different championships in different weight classes, and there's another tournament style that lets you customize your own elimination tourney, like the Grand Prix of Pride FC. Most notably though, is the career mode. Here, you create your own fighter, and start at the bottom of the ranks and move your way up. The only problem is, this mode is very tedious with many boring exercises and drills, and little fighting until you pass them all. It's just not much fun. Otherwise, with 30+ characters, you should have little trouble finding one to use in other modes, but there are few known names ? other than Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz, there's few ?mainstream' names, instead a bunch of no-names that might be tough fighters, but look like any old person on the street.
The gameplay of Sudden Impact is simple, which is either its benefit or downfall, and is essentially the very same engine and play style as the old UFC game for PlayStation 1. Each character has different styles, but all have similar progression. You have basic punches & kicks, you can do a takedown and pummel an opponent, bash them up on the Octagon wall, or perform submission moves. Fights can take a while sometimes, as you recover energy if you can avoid beatings, but often they only last a few seconds if you can get a takedown in, then punch until they're KO'd, or make them submit. There's nothing really wrong with the grappling system, really, it's just that with such limited selections of moves, it gets boring after a while, especially because the game can become very easy once you can get takedowns in often, and just pummel the crap out of your hapless victim. It's also lacking the excitement of real Ultimate Fighting, which can be insane in its purest form.
If you're using this as a multiplayer game, however, it can be extremely fun at first to fight and watch the clock tick down as you battle for the victory. Problem is, with similar games like WWE Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain (and really, in video games, it doesn't matter if one is real and one isn't, it's all fake on the screen) and the awesome depth of that game, there's no reason to mess with this unless you're a hardcore UFC fan and/or hate wrestling and its eccentricities. It's not as bad a buy for $20, but with better MMA games like Pride FC around (though it's a year old, and has less depth, it plays better and actually looks better too), it plays second fiddle. And if you just want a good one on one fighter, there's plenty of those on PlayStation 2 that are much better than this. It all depends on your interest in UFC.
Visually, the game doesn't look all that bad, and runs smoothly. There's nice entrances for the fighters, and the crowd is decently arranged. Character models do look nice, with plenty of details on many fighters, like Shamrock's infamous sideburns that defy time and space laws. Given that there's merely an octagonal, caged ring, 2 fighters, and one referee, it's tough to screw this up, and they managed to at least make the game look good. Still, Pride FC, which was released early last year, looks much better, and still has Shamrock's sideburns. On the audio side, Bruce Buffer (brother of Michael "Lets Get Ready To Ruuumbllleeeeeeeeeeeee" Buffer) handles introductions well, but says nothing else otherwise, leading into generic grunts and groans during fights. The music is littered with generic hard rock, but it's not too bad. It fits the UFC feel.