The Dreamcast UCF game was a huge hit, and the series had a large amount of unrealized potential. A few years later, the series is in the dumps, with the newest game, SUDDEN IMPACT, being sold as a bargain bin game at the beginning of its life. Even at the bargain price, there is one thing new, the story mode.
The story mode in the game starts off by having the player create a customizable fighter. There are lots of little details, and while the interface and options could use some help, this part works pretty well. After that, it's time to train.
Three years of training is split up into one year at three different dojos (more are unlocked throughout the game). Each dojo specializes in a certain fighting style, and because of that, can improve stats in pertinent areas as well as teach moves related to that style of fighting. Every month you can either work on stat increases or a new move. There are mini-challenges to go along with this, and completing the challenge successfully means a full upgrade. Failing means fewer stat points, or a weaker version of the move you were learning.
At the end of each month you might have the opportunity to punch a bag to get experience points, or watch a little animation to win a few more. At the end of every year, there is a tournament where you do actually get to fight. These are easy, and don't really add anything to the experience.
After the hour or so that it takes to train a fighter, you reach the end of three years on the assumption you're going to enter the UFC. This is where the story mode ends. I've never been so infuriated. I kept telling my girlfriend while I was playing, "It has to get better once you get into the actual story." Truth be told, THERE IS NO STORY. It's just the longest character creation mode I've ever seen. It is cool you can use your character in the normal modes, but don't tell me there is a story mode and then go back on that.
The other modes are exactly the same as in the older games: Tournament, Road of Champions, Exhibition, Vs.. And what's worse is that the gameplay, animation, graphics and sound all also appear to be directly lifted. This game looks like it was a PS2 launch game, not a mid-to-late generation title. It looks ugly, moves ugly and sounds ugly. It's almost embarrassing to play it when you could be feasting your eyes on the beauty of sunset at Fenway Park in MVP BASEBALL 2004.
The game itself hasn't changed much. It still uses the system where the four face buttons each represent a limb and pressing that button throws an attack with that limb. There are also plenty of wrestling/submission moves to use as well. Nothing really extraordinary, and nothing too challenging to pick up either, I button-mashed to great success.
I can't recommend this game but to anyone who really loves UFC. Even with its $20 price tag, it's just not worth it.