Wanna enjoy Tapout? First, you need at least one other willing gamer, 'cause the A.I. is pathetic. It's barely bright enough to serve as a punching bag while you learn the controls, and the game unfortunately lacks any Practice mode or tutorial. Once you adjust, the fighting system is solid: Nothing too complex (combos are limited), nothing too simple (several positions and counter-moves). But back to what you'll need: Second, all players should be collectibletrading-card-carrying members of the UFC fan club. You need some love of the league for the patience and desire to learn the game, and to appreciate the convincing faces (and tatoos) of your favorite badasses. Which brings us to the big problem for the rest of us: Tapout has over 30 fighters to choose from, and after playing it for days the only guys I remember are Tito Ortiz, Ice-T and Gary Goodridge. Too many similar characters, plus too many similar moves, equals too many forgettable matches. I don't need WWF-calibre antics, but it'd be nice to see different outfits, more recognizable signature moves, dialogue between bouts--something to make those of us who don't have pay-per-view on speed-dial care about who's fighting, or at the very least, be able to tell them apart. Overall production values could also use a punch to the back of the head: The bare minimum set of modes and one background (complete with frozen audience) won't make new fans.
If real UFC matches played out like they do in the game, no one would want to order the pay-per-views. The word that describes this game the best: bland. Matches against the computer are too short, very repetitive and devoid of excitement. Most of the fighters are so similar (in both look and control) that after a while I couldn't tell my Jens Pulvers from my leremy Horns. And the bland combat and simplistic Create-A-Fighter mode fail to infuse any personality. Fighting a friend is a lot more exciting, but weighted against novices. With two experienced players, it quickly turns into a counter-fest of ridiculous proportions.
Not much has changed in UFC since we played the Dreamcast version: Some new combatants, mild visual primping and a Create-a-Fighter mode that gives you a more realistic chance are the major additions to Tapout (actually, my home-brewed Jonny Sizzler dethroned Mark's cheap Gary Goodridge on more than one occasion). Because the game is so dependent on counters and the enigmatic submission-hold success rate, I've never taken UFC very seriously as a "fighter." It's more fun for folks who just want to remember two or three key moves and make those last through a night of clunky combat with a few buddies.