G4 Television X-Play host Blair HerterNormally Valentine’s Day is filled with cards, chocolate, and flowers, but this year it’s also going to have its share of video game brutality thanks to the North American release of THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

To discuss the series’ third installment, MMAWeekly.com caught up with G4 TV’s Blair Herter of X-Play to get his thoughts on what’s new in the franchise, and why it’s going to be worth picking up when it comes out.

MMAWeekly: When it was released in 2010, Undisputed 2’s critical and commercial disappointment was generally attributed to its short development cycle. With nearly twice as much time put into Undisputed 3, what really stands out to you about the game?

Blair Herter: Frankly, I think the entire game benefited from the longer development cycle. THQ did a great job of using the extra time to not only fine tune gameplay and graphics, but to also bring in members of the UFC Undisputed gaming community to “play test” the changes they were making with the series, and I think that shows. Everything about the game seems more streamlined and user-friendly.

MMAWeekly: What would you say to someone who may think that Undisputed 3 is just a roster update with some tweaks in graphics/gameplay/presentation?

UFC Undisputed 3 cover Anderson SilvaBlair Herter: Pride FC mode. When you’re dealing with a franchise that puts out a yearly SKU, the immediate expectation is, like you said, that there are going to be tweaks in graphics/gameplay/presentation.  UFC Undisputed 3 delivers on all that and then adds exciting new stuff like the Pride mode.

Best part is it’s not just your standard UFC mode with a Pride skin. Pride (era) Wanderlei (Silva) is more dominant than UFC (era) Wanderlei and the stats/gameplay reflect that. You’re also getting commentary from (Bas) Rutten and (Stephen) Quadros as well as head stomps and soccer kicks. (Pride mode is) definitely a massive addition to the game.

MMAWeekly: With such a AAA-heavy holiday season in 2011, is it wise to release Undisputed 3 not too far after many people have spent significant amounts of money (and continuing amounts of time) on games that came out late last year?

Blair Herter: Under normal circumstances my answer to this would be, “Now is a VERY dangerous time to launch a game given how amazing (and expensive) the last four months have been for gamers.” However, I do think that this title serves a very specific audience that will buy it regardless of whatever else they’ve spent they’re money on.

In addition to that, with the recent launch of UFC content on Fox/FX/Fuel I think more eyeballs than ever are being exposed to the sport and now is a perfect time to capitalize on that new exposure.

MMAWeekly: Recent reports show shooters – the Call of Duty series in particular – dominating the online gaming scene. Can Undisputed 3 make any kind of dent in that or even break into the Top 10 of most played games online?

Blair Herter: I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but I think it’s safe to assume that somewhere in the Top 10 is (a sports game like) a Madden or a FIFA. However, I highly doubt there are any fighting games in there, so I think it’ll be tough for Undisputed 3 to break into the Top 10 because I think it skews more towards fighting game fans and not sports fans.

MMAWeekly: How important will roster updates/downloadable content (fighters) play into the game’s longevity, in your opinion?

Blair Herter: The UFC stable of fighters is constantly changing and their rankings are constantly changing as well. If THQ goes the extra mile and tries to keep stats/rankings as close to real-time as possible (within the limits of update development, of course) I think they’ll be rewarded with a ton of long-term consumer loyalty.

MMAWeekly: Thanks for your time, as always, Blair. Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers in closing?

Blair Herter: In the immortal words of Bill S. Preston, Esquire, “Be excellent to each other, watch X-Play weeknights, and follow @blairherter on Twitter.” At least, I think that’s what he said.

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