UFC 2010, by contrast, uses a unique movelist for each of its stars, culled from all thee various disciplines on offer. This was a worthy move to take, but it has the side-effect that the newcomers to the sport will be a bit clueless when it comes to picking new characters. They'll learn, of course, but initially they'll have to make their decision based up on the 16 move statistics that you can view on the character select screen. It's not a massive issue, but it does say something about the fact that this isn't a game that openly welcomes newcomers. If you're a big UFC fan you'll know who's who (and you'll love the fact that the character models are a significant step-up this year), and you'll also understand the basic rules and tactics of the Octagon.
If you're green around the edges, on the other hand, you'll have to learn the hard way. There are several dry-but-functional tutorials that guide you through the basic moves, but the more complicated stuff – the less straightforward chokes and strikes, and the importance of specific poses and positions – is really only learned in the ring. To be clear, the effort is absolutely worth it, and when you start finding your way you'll discover that Undisputed 2010 has some of the most visceral, dynamic man-punching that money can buy. Still, there's no doubt that what this series really needs is a proper in-game guide to the sport. FIFA walks us through every subtle aspect of the beautiful game, and most people at least understand the basics of football, so why shouldn't Yuke's do the same thing here? This is the second UFC game I've played in detail, and I'm still a bit uncertain about what I'm supposed to do from the rather dodgy-looking North-South position.
Normally, of course, you'd expect this stuff to be spoon-fed to you in the Career Mode. In last year's review I singled this out as an area for improvement on Yuke's part, and it's certainly clear that the developer has a put a lot more thought into this second outing. You now start out as a completely skill-less wannabe, an amateur brawler with lots of dreams and a big heart (let's hope so anyway, as all those protein shakes can wreck havoc on the human body). You work your way through your first fights in the World Fighting Alliance, a sort of warm-up to your main career, then eventually progress to the UFC and all the glory it entails. Along the way you'll get the occasional cutscene featuring Dana White and other official UFC faces. These are, without exception, as cheesy as some milk that's been curdled, processed and then left to mature in a Frenchman's sock; all the same, it's undeniably fun to watch your hand-crafted He-Man blab his way to stardom. The create-a-fighter options are vastly improved this year, and so it's entirely possible to play as the blue-bearded freak of your dreams or nightmares.
Unfortunately you'll soon realise that Career mode requires an awful lot of training. This was equally true last year, of course, where training was your second-most time-consuming activity after deleting spam emails from Dana. The problem this time is that your stats degrade. In theory this should stop you from getting complacent and make you work like an eager little beaver; in practice, it just pisses you off. There are 16 separate skills to manage via sparring sessions, alongside training for your strength, speed and cardio. There's also your condition (essentially your level of physical preparation for your next fight) and fatigue to worry about. And as soon as you make it to the UFC you'll soon start getting hassled by Rachelle Leah – a model and TV presenter who always wants you to attend various events as a guest. These can't be entirely ignored, as they help to boost your "cred" which in turn helps you to win new sponsors and trainers (the people kind, not the shoes).