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UFC (DC) Hands-on Preview

Publisher: Crave Entertainment

New Screens(10)


> 3 Movies Available <

There is a bit of irony associated with this game. I was on my way to work and listening to the local call-in sports show on my AM dial. The sports show is one of the better ones in the country - they used to have Tiger's coach Butch Harmon on every Friday until he moved to Vegas. Now they have to settle for brother Dick Harmon, who is an excellent coach in his own right. But I digress. It wasn't Friday, so no hour of golf talk. Instead, they had a couple of guys in studio who were on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) circuit. I cannot remember the names of the guys, but I listened in amazement as they talked about the sport and the rules in various parts of the world.

These two UFC guys mentioned the sport has become more civilized in the States, but that in other parts of the world it is still bare knuckles and fight to the death. In Brazil, for example, there are almost no rules to follow. You just get in the ring and beat the snot out of each other by any means possible. They remarked about the marathon sessions in Japan, where the Japanese audience could patiently sit through 9 hours of fighting. But in our homeland, the rules, they explained, have been changed to take some (not all) of the barbarism out. No longer do you have bare knuckles, and you can't gouge the eyes or grab where you shouldn't grab (can't make off with those family jewels). Even with the changes to the rules, the sport is still pretty rustic. I would almost prefer getting knocked out by a Tyson punch that put my body through all sorts of unimaginable pain in the UFC ring.

So where is the irony? Well, that same day I got an email from James, one of the founders of this great web site, asking if I wanted to do a hands-on preview of Ultimate Fighting Championship for the Dreamcast. After being jazzed by the guys on the radio (probably the first and last time they will be on the air here in Houston) earlier in the day, I was primed to take my spot in the cage.

Unfortunately I will not be able to say too much about UFC. The preview copy that arrived only had two fighters available in a standard versus mode. I could play as Tito Ortiz and whoop Frank Shamrock, or I could play as Frank Shamrock and pummel Tito Ortiz. While other modes appear to be in the final release, I was stuck with the two fighters and at some unknown difficulty level. I also had no instructions on controls, so I pretty much had to guess what was going on.

Graphically, UFC is shaping up nicely. The fighters are ripped. Muscles are clearly defined, as the muscle contours look life-like and really show off the physique of each fighter. Chests look good as well, as abdominal muscles are carved out sharply. Faces had a good amount of detail as well. The faces reminded me of the players in NHL2K if you were able to remove the skaters' helmets. Overall, the body physiques are the best yet to appear on the Dreamcast. Tito has a sort of Dennis Rodman hair style - an unnatural bleached white mess of tight curls. The textures of the hair really come across in the game.

The fighter animations are fluid. The game features a mixture of kicks, punches, and grabs. Since the fighting is both standing up and on the mat, the movements are diverse. My favorite animations are when the fighters are on the canvas. One move has a fighter sitting on the other fighter's belly and just whaling on him. It reminded me of the seasonal movie Christmas Story, where Ralphie gets fed up and starts whooping up on Scott Farkus (he's got yellow eyes). Another great animation sequence involves a fighter pinned on his hands and knees by an opponent on his back. The fighter underneath will throw elbows up to try to make contact. Fighters all respond similarly to attacks - heads pop back and fighters wince when kicked in the you-know-whats.

The only areas I noticed graphical background were the camera and collisions. In some moves, body parts of the fighters intersect and pass through each other. Fortunately the collision detection is good enough where you can't chop through someone's arm - you'll simply chop through some of the flesh. The other problem is the camera. While fighting upright, the camera works flawlessly. It was only when the fighters were on the canvas that the camera broke down. Many times the referee would block the view and I would lose about three-quarters of the view.

The sounds in the game are exaggerated. When contact is made, hits and kicks sound similar to the ones in Ready 2 Rumble. Hits which make little contact land with a more natural sounding thud. In the background, the crowd cheers constantly. Overall, the sound is not the strongest aspect.

Fighting in UFC is simple. Without instructions, I wasn't sure if the game would play like a fighter with an incredible number of button combinations or like a boxing game with simple controls. UFC actually lies somewhere in between. Punches are thrown with the X and Y buttons (left or right hand), and kicks are performed with the A and B buttons (for left and right legs). Grapple attempts and defensive blocks are made by pressing two of the four buttons (A and B, B and Y, and so on). On the ground, punches continue to be thrown with the X and Y buttons. Pressing multiple or chained button combinations did not reveal any special moves, except for pressing the X button quickly twice. That produced a jab followed by an uppercut. For those who just hate messing with untold combinations, this could be your game.

As mentioned, you can grapple your opponent and bring him down. When in the dominant position, fighting is easy. When you are in a submissive position, it is nearly impossible to break out (of course, instructions could have helped here). When an opponent got me on the ground, I could just about count the match over on the spot. He would usually perform a game-ending move such as a back, neck, or leg breaker. My health, even if full, would completely deplete. If there is one complaint I have with the play of the game, that's it. Health, by the way, does get replenished if you stay out of harm's way.

I love the simple controls, but I hate the difficulty of breaking out of holds. I hate it so much that I would rather dance around the ring and treat the game as a boxing package, which clearly UFC is not. The sport is all about the combination of boxing and wrestling, or street fighting. And once on the canvas, I do not want a game where one move ends it all. Hopefully the final version of UFC will simulate the actual sport better. If it does, gamers will find a game that is both addictive and tremendously entertaining.

By: James Smith 7/24/00

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