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Undisputed

Undisputed Impressions: A new contender enters the ring

We've been given a taste of how X will be looking to crack open the world of boxing video games, all during our time in Germany for Gamescom 2023.

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It's not very often that we see a new contender joining the sports game space that doesn't have the EA Sports logo attached to it, but that's precisely what we're getting with Steel City Interactive's Undisputed. This title is a boxing video game, one that looks to bring together the sport's biggest names and then pit them against one another in an experience that aims to represent each part of the boxing world, including training and press appearances. It's a different and fresh take on a sports game and one that showed a lot of potential when the developer gave me a hands-off look during Gamescom 2023.

Undisputed still features a ton of the familiar tropes that we find in sports games. You still create a character from a broad avatar suite that also defines the weight class you will be competing in, and then from here you can partake in a career mode where the aim is the be the undisputed champion of the world. Add to this quick matches and familiar modes and on the surface Undisputed does look a lot like EA Sports UFC. But it's in the intricacies that this game is looking to set itself apart from its competitors.

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On the journey to becoming the champion of the world, you'll have to train, learn, and face less capable boxers all so that you can increase your world ranking and stand a chance at landing fights with the best of the best. On this point, as Undisputed looks to mix and merge eras, the world ranking list won't look like it does today, as when you start your career Tyson Fury could be the gold standard, but you could also be starting your journey just as a young Muhammad Ali is bursting onto the scene, meaning you'll need to compete and prove yourself all while legends of the sport are doing the same. As for the how the rankings work, each win and loss will see you climbing or dropping down the ranks depending on the ranking of your opponent and your fight performance. So, if you manage to beat someone easily who is significantly higher ranked you should leap up the rankings, but if the opposite happens, you will plummet.

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Unlike regular boxing where a fighter may have a match once every 4-6 months, in Undisputed the virtual nature means that you can just keep battling and fighting without worrying about the repercussions. This choice doesn't mean that your boxer won't face injuries and the likes however, as you can still pick up problems if you ineffectively complete training sessions, for example. Injuries will also adjust your ability to fight, as a damaged pectoral may result in weaker punches, while a sprained ankle will reduce your movement.

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To help you improve your fighting, you can bring on various coaches and personnel. This could be a manager who looks to increase your publicity, or an agent who will negotiate contracts, and a trainer to help increase your fighter's core attributes, such as punching power, recovery, or stamina. These, like many of the boxers in the game, are real people from the world of boxing, and depending on how much money you're willing to spend will depend on what quality of individual you can team up with. A more expensive agent will get you bigger contracts at the cost of a bigger cut for them, a better manager will get you tons of publicity, and a better trainer will improve your ability to fight. The catch is that you have to listen to these people if you want them to stick around as if you ignore your coach's feedback, which comes in the form of grades and analytical reports where they analyse every aspect of your training and fights, they will leave.

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When it comes to actually fighting, while I can't comment on how this actually feels to play, it did come across as quite complex and deep. This isn't a Mortal Kombat or Tekken 2D system, it's more akin to a UFC game where you can control your boxer's movement, tell them which punches to throw and where to throw them, and dodge or block to avoid or mitigate incoming attacks, all in real time. It's a system that seems to give the player plenty of agency and control.

From what I got to see and learn about during my time in Germany it was clear that Undisputed is shaping up to be a rather fresh take on a sports game. The analytical systems and the deep customisation suite are looking to put a lot of control into the hands of the player, and the fighting seems thrilling. With so many famous boxers, current and legends, attached to this project, including Fury, Usyk, Ali, Leonard, Joshua, and more, there is a lot of potential for this sports title.

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