|Also available on Xbox 360|
While UFC Undisputed games have always offered great mixed martial arts action, UFC Undisputed 3 is the first in the series that also succeeds outside of the octagon. It's also a significantly more accessible game than its predecessors, so you don't need to know a reverse mount from a rear mount to enjoy it.
If you're a newcomer to the series, or just in need of a refresher because you haven't played a UFC game in months, UFC Undisputed 3 has you covered with its comprehensive tutorials. Play through the Guided Tutorial mode's 62 quick exercises, and you learn how to perform everything from simple punches and transitions to dangerous moves like foot stomps and soccer kicks that, while effective in the new Pride competitions, are illegal in UFC matches. Some of the tutorials deal with new or significantly changed gameplay mechanics, so they're worth checking out even if you have previous octagon experience. Submissions are now attempted and defended using an entirely new system, for example.
Rotating the right analog stick as quickly as possible was an inelegant way to resolve submission attempts in previous games, and while it was technically skill-based, it wasn't at all analogous with the struggle onscreen. Thankfully this has been addressed in UFC 3, where submissions employ a minigame of sorts. Two icons representing the fighters move around the perimeter of an octagon-shaped graphic and, depending on whether you're attacking or defending, you either chase or try to stay away from your opponent's icon. It's unfortunate that you end up focusing so intensely on this visual representation of the struggle that you lose sight of the actual fighters, but it's a great system regardless, because it's always clear how well you're doing and what you need to do to improve your situation.
Another interesting improvement inside the octagon is the all-new interaction that you have with your trainer. Not only can he occasionally be heard yelling legitimately useful advice over the noise of the crowd while you're fighting, but in between rounds he offers feedback on both positive and negative aspects of your performance. He might congratulate you on your excellent ground-and-pound work while pointing out that you need to do a better job of blocking your opponent's transitions, for example. Furthermore, you have the option to look at an expanded version of his comments that, often, details what you need to be doing with your controller to act on his advice. MMA fighters have such vast repertoires of moves at their disposal that these reminders can prove invaluable.
If you find the move lists of pro fighters such as Anderson Silva, Cain Velasquez, and Scott Jorgensen overwhelming, a great way to familiarize yourself with the basics is to jump into the much-improved Career mode. There, you start out as a relative newcomer to MMA with a much smaller repertoire and significantly lower ratings for your physical attributes and fight skills. You might feel sluggish and underpowered early on, and it's an odd sensation to find yourself in a position in which you simply don't have good moves available. This forces you to master the basics though, and there's a great sense of progression as you train between fights.
Training hasn't always been much fun in UFC games, largely because so much of it was menu-driven. Thankfully, that's no longer the case. Minigames replace mathematics in UFC Undisputed 3, so where physical training used to take place on a spreadsheet, now it involves punching bags, focus mitts, and the like. Training exercises do a great job of reinforcing the idea that you're improving as a fighter, not only because you inevitably get better at them as your career progresses, but because they employ the same controls as the moves that they most obviously benefit. Grabbing large tires and flipping them around on a mat plays in much the same way that taking down opponents does, for example. Also, you no longer need to concern yourself with working training into your schedule in such a way that you leave enough time before a fight to recuperate. In UFC 3 you typically get to choose one of five opponents for your next fight and then get just two training sessions beforehand, which you can choose to spend improving your skills and physical attributes, or visiting camps to learn and level up moves. You never have to rest, and you never have to waste time clicking through menus that are presented as media opportunities. You might still end up devoting chunks of time to arranging sponsor logos on your shorts and banner, but you don't need to do this often, and the systems in place for doing so (which also include a new option to design your own logos) are far less unwieldy than in previous UFC games.