UFC Branding: 10/10
This game is extremely faithful to the UFC franchise: the arenas, announcers, referees, commentators, Octagon girls, and of course the fighters and coaches are all there and look and sound very realistic. I thought the coaches mumbled too much and didn't really give good advice but at least you get the feeling of advice being given (moral support?).
I wanted to be able to jump more and generally be more reckless. For example, I wanted to do flying kicks (the flashy kind real fighters never do unless they want to lose in the first few seconds). There are a lot of really cool moves like Superman punch and flying knee but these can only be activated contextually (you have to be a certain range from your opponent). I have never played a "wrestling" game before so I wasn't sure what to expect but the use of the right analog stick for a lot of grappling/wrestling moves seemed to do the trick. It is somewhat intuitive but I am still struggling with transitions (there are easy and hard transitions and the hard ones don't always seem to work). I would have really loved customizable controls but I did not see that option (probably because the practice/tutorial mode would be harder to script), but the defaults are fairly intuitive and get the job done. I don't like having to press the analog sticks inward (left inward to run, right inward to submit) The left bumper and trigger are height modifiers that convert strikes to high and low respectively. This also modifies grappling: high to clinch and low to do a takedown. Then, on the ground you can still modify for head shots or body shots. So, that much is intuitive. The right bumper and trigger are defensive height modifiers, though even if you block you'll still take some damage. I had to take off one point for the lack of jumping and fun controls and one point for the omission of customizable controls, otherwise they are reasonably comprehensive and intuitive.
The tutorial is very long and takes a while to get through it all. I am happy it exists and had to go back and consult it a few times. I think there could be better integration of this with the training camps in Career mode but it's still decent.
Practice Mode: 10/10
This mode has everything: choose your fighter, opponent, and opponent's AI level. This lets you configure whether your opponent will be an inanimate punching bag, someone who will defend only (with many options here), or someone who will fight back (and you can set the difficulty level). If you or your opponent is knocked out or submitted, it's no big deal, the fighter positions reset quickly and you can resume practice. If there is one thing I would have liked, it would have been to have more options for where you fight (instead of just the gym).
Historic Fights: 2/10
I thought this was cool but it seemed to force me to play as one of the fighters and not just have the fights play out as they actually did (or have AI's fight it out and simulate what might have happened). I guess I just don't see how you couldn't do pretty much the same thing with Exhibition Mode.
Exhibition Mode: 10/10
This is the normal "versus" mode of the game. I had no problems with the options presented. Yes, you have to choose your weight class (an appropriate constraint), but you get to use custom fighters and toggle stats and fighters who have actually fought in more than one weight class are able to be selected in both (e.g. BJ Penn). I think you can even choose your arena and referee (but not the Octagon girls). Importantly, you can choose how many rounds it will be (which constrains the arena selection a bit): 2, 3 or 5.
Career Mode: 7/10
This mode is hard. First, the fights are hard. Second, the time management can be tricky. Basically, everything is done on a weekly basis and most physical actions take a certain amount of stamina away. So, you can't do Intense training twice in one week but you could do Intense and Moderate training and then have virtually no stamina left. There's nothing wrong with using up your stamina except that it might be bad if you have none on the week of your fight and you can only recover part of your stamina in one week so you need about two weeks to fully recharge. This is rough because you may only have 4 or 5 weeks to get ready for a fight so half your time is wasted to recharging. I loved the sparring and training camps options (and actually felt like the training camps helped me learn and improve) and you can even use points from sparring to boost specific stats (and they are very specific let me tell you) or you can focus on Strength, Speed and Cardio (if you prefer the macro level). There are also emails and interviews and making public appearances (e.g. at other fights) which all seem fine but maybe a bit of a time waster for people who just want to fight. Of course, this is career mode so what do you want? Oh, and if you really like detail, you can add sponsors and micro the logos on your trunks for reputation points. The nice thing about career mode is that it is VERY forgiving. If you screw up and lose a fight or two, you'll still be given opportunities to step back into the Octagon. Dana White and your manager/agent are very nice and bend over backwards to promote you and help you along.
I thought Dane White, Herb Dean, and a few fighters did not look right. However, the vast majority are convincing. I think the camera angles are great and have no complaints there (you don't even notice it). The movement of the fighters is very impressive and there is a lot of attention to detail to things like breathing and hunching over when low on energy. I love the ragdolling (though maybe it's too frequent and it seems knockouts frequently cause the opponent to lose his mouthguard). There is too much sweat and not enough blood, but the sweat doesn't detract that much. I loved how you can create a fighter and customize so much about his physical appearance (it is very thorough). I would have liked to see more options for hair color (for Chris Leben etc.) but that's about it.
Voice Acting: 10/10
I hate the default music (even though it is true to UFC style) and turned it off as soon as it got annoying. I would have liked to have seen an option to use custom songs for your fight entrance (which by the way is oddly absent in this otherwise very detailed and realistic game) and otherwise have a song library to play as background music. I think the commentators are spot on in terms of how they sound and what they say. I think there is a tendency for the commentators to overstate how crazy or epic every fight is, but otherwise they do a good job of stating the obvious. I don't know about the licensing and stuff but it would have been great if they could have had the fight entrance songs (e.g. when Quinton "Rampage" Jackson enters and Roy Jones Jr. "Can't be Touched" plays). Oh, and the game obviously doesn't know how to pronounce whatever jacked up name you give your custom fighter so it just uses a preset nickname (you can choose from a dozen or so) like "Headhunter" when doing announcements at the beginning and end of matches. I would have liked more nicknames to choose from (why not include actual fighter nicknames?) but it's not a big deal.
There are some load time issues. I also think it gets a bit confusing when it's autosaving (do Exhibition matches count toward my Custom Fighter's Career Mode?) or you go to save redundantly. It's not a big problem and isn't terribly confusing just a bit weird (it shows all the steps it does in each part of the save process when it probably could have suppressed some of it).
I have yet to see Jens Pulver or Mark DellaGrotte (not sure they aren't there just haven't noticed them) and I'm sure a lot of MMA geeks will bemoan that there is no Fedor but this is explicitly UFC Undisputed and not a general MMA game. If you want to you could probably create him with the custom fighter options anyway which should be the default response to any qualms over missing fighters.
It is probably worth mentioning the fighting styles. In this game all fighters are classified into a striking style and a grappling style. There are three striking styles: Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai. Only kickboxers can do head kicks (as far as I can tell). Only Muay Thai can do special moves in the clinch (e.g. knee to the head). There are three grappling styles: BJJ, Wrestling, Judo. BJJ has the best transitioning and submissions. Wrestling and Judo let you do throws and slams and I think you have to be a wrestler to do certain throws (or have a guaranteed ability to do them). I'm not sure whether the style limitations are problematic but considering that fighters are normally encouraged to be well-rounded and learn everything (and how that's the whole point of MMA), it's weird that these limitations are built-in.
There are a lot of nice little touches in the game and if you're an UFC fan or at all into MMA this title will probably hold your interest. If you're looking for Street Fighter mechanics and the ability to do Hadoukens, you won't find it here. However, if you're looking for a level of realism never before seen in this genre of video game, this is it. I was skeptical that you could ever develop a control system to faithfully translate MMA into a video game format, but this game gives me hope. I do think it tends to emphasize the strategic rather than the visceral aspect of the sport but it is a video game after all (if you want something more visceral, then try the real thing I guess or get a button masher).