Neven Dravinski says that he wants to kill 2009. When he says this, he doesn't mean that he wants to drown himself in cheap vodka in a desperate bid to blot out last year; he means that he wants to completely rip the arms off of UFC 2009 Undisputed. This sounds violent, but it's really an act of love: The producer wants his new game, UFC Undisputed 2010, to totally destroy its predecessor by being even better. And, thankfully, the changes aren't limited to a slightly-different arrangement of the words in the title.
For starters, it's clear that Yuke's and THQ are intent on making this year's game a little more organic. The nature of UFC, and of Mixed Martial Arts in general, requires all scrappers to have a dual set of fighting abilities: when you're on your feet, you whale on your opponents with punches, kicks and head-grabs; then when things go to the ground, you've got to be able to wrestle and grapple with your foe, to either make them "tap out" with an agony-inducing submission, or to manipulate them into a position where you can beat them senseless (this isn't a sport for the faint-hearted). The first Undisputed attempted to replicate this by making each of its fighters specialise in two disciplines, from of a total of six: you might use Muay Thai while standing, and Brazilian Jujitsu for all your arm-twisting needs on the floor, for example.
It was a system that worked pretty well, but since there were only three fighting styles for stand-up work and three for ground-based wriggling, there wasn't an enormous amount of immediate difference between the various brawlers. In short, this setup didn't really reflect the diverse nature of fighting personalities within the sport. Undisputed 2010 has chucked in three new combat styles – karate, Sambo, and Greco-Roman wrestling – but more significantly, it's also done away with the two discipline arrangement. Now each character will have a personalised move set, culled from a list of over 200 eye-watering tricks, and on top of that we can expect a lot more in the way of signature moves. If Hubert "Snugglepuss" Jenkins is particularly known for his lethal Chinese burns, for example, you can bet that they'll make the final game. Hubert himself is unlikely to appear, as he's currently yet to fight anywhere outside of the foetid pools of my imagination, but we do know that BJ Penn's trademark arm bar to rear naked choke will be included.
Back in the real world, Undisputed 2010 will also be throwing in a number of features to add extra depth to its one-on-one battles – no mean feat, given the complex array of strategic options that were already present in the first game. From a technical perspective, the most important addition is arguably the inclusion of leaning controls, allowing you to duck away from incoming blows and to move in for close-up striking. UFC purists, on the other hand, will be more pleased about the inclusion of "cage moves" - attacks that allow you to crush your hapless opponent against the side of the octagon, further adding to his misery while you rain down blows upon his ripening face.