THQ wants more than just new gamers for UFC Undisputed 3, it wants new fans

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has never been more popular. With boxing still in a lull, mixed martial arts (MMA) has expanded beyond the hardcore thanks in large part to marketable fighters and a never-ending stream of big pay-per-view events around the world. The biggest fighters in the UFC like Anderson Silva and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson are as well-known today as boxers like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. THQ has taken extra development time with its UFC Undisputed 3 in an effort to not only court new gamers to the sport, but to help educate potential new fans about the strategies and intricacies of MMA.

“After the first two games, our goal for UFC 3 was to make the game more accessible,” said Wes Bunn, senior game designer on UFC Undisputed 3. “We knew we had a great game, and we wanted more people playing it. One of the ways we did that was to introduce a new control scheme. This ‘amateur’ control scheme doesn’t provide any added advantage over the previous control scheme, which is now called ‘pro’. So the hardcore players that are used to the pro control scheme actually have a little bit more of an advantage. But for new players, they can choose amateur and just pick it up and start having fun with your friends if you’re not a hardcore UFC game player.”

UFC 3 packs a lot of options onto the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 disc. THQ worked with 150 fighters to bring every tattoo and fighting style into the new game, which features seven weight classes (heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight) and seven fighting styles (boxing, karate, muay thai, kickboxing, wrestling, judo, sambo, jiu-jitsu, and MMA) to master. New in-game tutorials walk players through every aspect of the game, whether they’re jumping into an exhibition match or embarking on the robust new career mode. In career mode, new movies will play featuring video of real UFC fighters and trainers that will help players navigate the ins and outs of MMA.

“Career Live Movies bring the UFC experience to life, while educating the player,” said Bunn. “There are several variations of certain movies. For example, if you lose your first fight, there’s a bunch of UFC fighters talking about what it was like for them, and how they bounced back. You get a little bit of insight into the mind of the UFC fighters.”

Bunn said these videos give players more back story about the fighters and ties them into the brand a little bit more. It’s a different approach to the in-game cinematics that the past two games utilized. Some of the videos features will be exclusive, meaning the game debuts behind-the-scenes content for UFC fans.

Although the new game features a rich roster of 150 fighters with more coming via download, THQ has focused on building an extremely detailed fighter creation feature that opens up an endless roster of pugilists.

“The character creation this time around is very deep and exhaustive,” said Bunn. “We have layer after layer of sliders for every part of the face and body. We’ve also changed the way the body definition system works. You can actually scale your fighter’s muscle to fat ratio now. We added a bunch of little things like that that the fans have been asking to have more control over the actual look of their fighter.”

In addition to being able to create a fighter from scratch, fans are finally getting their request to bring the full roster of 150 fighters into career mode. Gamers can bring UFC and classic Pride Fighting Championship fighters into career and then change everything up. So while they’ll look authentic, how they fight is completely up to your tweaking with the sliders.

“Since I’m the one that had to assign the moves and the stats, it took a lot of time to finally get that nailed down,” said Bunn. “I worked very closely with Joe Silva, the UFC’s matchmaker, to make sure that we got the stats right and people had the right moves. It’s interesting because it allows you to have the experience the way you want. You can make Jon Jones the best submission guy in the world, or allow Brock Lesnar to fight with a flying head kick. It’s cool because you can have them go up and down in divisions. You can move Jon Jones up to heavyweight. You can move BJ Penn up to welterweight or lightweight. It’s up to you. I think fans will enjoy it.”

Players can even create custom entrances from both UFC and Pride for their roster or created fighters. They can select the music, pick the lighting and pick the different types of motions that the fighter does.

Outside of the career mode, THQ has introduced Ultimate Fights, which will launch in the game and then expand to DLC. This feature allows players to go back and recreate or rewrite history with some of the most memorable matches in the history of the UFC and Pride. Bunn said his team has gone in and selected certain fights like the best knockouts of last year and the best submissions, and then challenge players to go in and try and replicate that, or rewrite history.

UFC Undisputed 3 celebrates the history of MMA, and at the same time, is likely to help make history. The future of MMA is bright. And with more people being able to understand and enjoy the inner workings of these fighting styles through the new game, there likely will be more fans tuning in to Fox, and even pay-per-views, to follow the real thing.

(UFC Undisputed 3 hits stores for PS3 and Xbox 360 today)

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