Is there anything more entertaining as the classic combination of sweaty, near-naked men and ultra-violence? Well, yes, there probably is - but that's besides the point. Earlier this year THQ and Yuke's reminded us that it can be a winning formula, with the superlative UFC: Undisputed. Now EA has stepped up to offer its own take on Mixed Martial Arts, and given the effort the developer has put into recent Fight Nights, there's every reason to be excited.
While Undisputed and its inevitable sequel will no doubt be a major point of comparison, EA says that its new game will take a different approach to its rival. For a start, it obviously won't be featuring any famous faces from the US-based UFC brand; instead the new game will focus on MMA competitions throughout the world. This means we should get fighters from Japan and Europe, among other places, as well as those from Brazil and the States - the usual MMA hotbeds. Randy Couture and Frank Shamrock are two early confirmations; hopefully we'll also get Stinky Gavin - the legendary grappler rumoured to live off the deer in Richmond Park... although this seems unlikely, as I only just made him up.
The other big difference, according to EA, will lie with fighting styles. All of Undisputed's brawlers used two martial arts from a total list of six; each character had different stats, and a few had special signature moves, but on the whole they all handled in a similar manner. With MMA, things will work a little differently. Though it sounds somewhat incredible, EA claims that every fighter in the game will have their own animations. Why? Because, as one of the dev team puts it, "style makes fights".
The example bout we were shown, during EA's showcase last week, featured Fedor Emelianenko taking on Brett Rogers. If you're not familiar with these two gentleman, you should know that Fedor is a six foot tall Russian who's broken more faces than you've had lukewarm lunches; Brett Rogers, on the other hand, is a former mechanic from Chicago who's only been doing Mixed Martial Arts for about three years. Rogers is certainly no slouch, mind: he's won every fight he's ever been in - or at least he had done, right up until he lost to Fedor last weekend.
In the demo, the contrast between the two fighters was immediately evident - and not just because of their different looks. In the ring, Rogers adopts a flat-footed stance that gives him lots of stability, while his arms tend to lie low across his stomach in a defensive manner. Meanwhile Feydor stands high on the balls of his feet, with his fists raised like a boxer - a more flexible pose that helps him to dart about quickly. Feydor is the more experienced fighter, and his posture reflects this.