TALK to a stranger at the pub while watching a UFC pay-per-view and you will likely be told that if they started mixed martial arts when they were younger, they would most definitely now be a professional fighter in the organisation.

I know this because I love getting on the cans while watching the fights and because I most definitely would have been a professional fighter in the UFC if I started MMA earlier in life.

Just because my life took a different direction, doesn’t mean I can’t explore my fantasy to become one of the best cage fighters in the world, with the latest UFC video game allowing me to use my likeness for one of the most realistic, bloody and violent titles ever created.

UFC 3, created by Electronic Arts, has combined an overhaul of the striking system and much improved, goal-oriented career mode to bring fans a game that delivers a highly authentic fighting experience.

CAREER MODE

While exhibition and online matches are a fun way to play as your favourite fighter, it’s the game’s career mode that steals the show.

Players have the option to import a pre-existing fighter on the UFC roster or create a new character with their own information and likeness.

Like most sporting games, you start with a fledgling fighter working your way up through the ranks to get to the UFC, while also deciding how to spend your time between match-ups.

The lead-up to each fight will give you a set number of weeks to train, with 100 training points allocated to each seven-day period.

Players can use points to promote the fight and build their fanbase, to spar a similar opponent and unlock a key to victory, to learn new moves or to build skill points and fitness.

They are also required to decide what gym — striking, wrestling, BJJ — they want to join, with each offering a different set of skills.

To make the game feel like an authentic climb through the ranks, UFC uses pre-shot cut scenes featuring president Dana White and other prolific personalities who talk about your fighter and the hype you are developing.

Even on easy difficulty, the game provides a big challenge with each match closer to the title shot, increasing in difficulty.

Thankfully if you get beaten, you have the option to restart the match so you don’t lose your perfect 15-0-0 win streak — my girlfriend told me this is cheating, I like to think of it more as using a clever loop hole.

IS THE GAME JUST FOR BUTTON MASHING?

Scoring the “W” in UFC 3 is more complex than just mashing buttons, with players required to control head movement, strikes, blocks, take-downs and submissions independently.

The fluid combat system also allows for players to approach the fight using whatever style they feel comfortable — strikers keep their opponents at arm’s length, while brawlers get up close and personal.

In addition to landing strikes, players have to monitor their stamina and health bars, with the latter an indication of how much more damage a certain body part can take before you will be knocked down.

There is also the chance a clean shot can knock you down and leave you as a bloody mess on the canvas.

As with real MMA, the game features a ground element which offers players the chance to ground and pound their opponent or go for the submission.

Sadly the ground game doesn’t feel as fluid as striking, although it’s hard to be too critical as submission fighting is something that is very difficult to translate into a video game.

Having only ever been in a handful of fistfights as a teenager, I can’t say for certain that the game is an authentic fight simulator, but it sure feels more realistic and violent than other fighting games I have played.

UFC 3 is undoubtably the best fighting game I have ever played and a huge improvement from the previous titles in the franchise.

If you are someone who loves the violence of the Octagon and doesn’t mind seeing themselves covered in blood and bruises, UFC 3 is the game for you.

Continue the conversation in the comments below or with Matthew Dunn on Facebook and Twitter.

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