February 5, 2010 - The thing that struck me about the last UFC game was that it just didn't move right. Don't get me wrong, the game looked slick, sucked you into the fights, and had awesome moves, but something about the rigid transitions between positions and moves just seemed odd. There was that second of hesitation in the characters while animations played out. THQ says that's done with. Moments ago, the company ran UFC Undisputed 2010 through its first public match – Mike Swick versus Paulo Thiago – and although the gameplay demo was extremely short, THQ promised and showcased some really good stuff. For starters and piggybacking off of my complaint, the static animations of 2009 are gone. When your fighters are in the prone position or mid-hold, they're not just sitting there -- they're living and breathing. You'll see your arm struggle against a hold as you try and break it, there are transitions between takedowns, and – thank the Lord – there are cage moves. This year, if you're good enough, you're going to be able to slam coverboy Brock Lesnar up against the chain link and wail on his ribcage. You can switch to the southpaw stance if you click in on the right joystick, the fight animations have been quadrupled, the clinch has been reanimated, the number of front submissions have been doubled, there's a new targeting system, and there are individual submissions like B.J. Penn's arm trap. Not enough octagon goodness? THQ has added karate, Greco-Roman wrestling, and Sambo fighting styles while doing away with archetypes for fighters – created fighters will now use individual movesets.
Speaking of created dudes, Undisputed 2010 is going to pack more than 100 fighters, and none of them are going to be made from the creation mode like 50 percent of last year's roster. Every UFC athlete in the game will be given the photo-realistic treatment. If you're looking to make your fighters (or at least your repertoire) more diverse, sways, ducks and leans have also been added to this year's game to make everything that much deeper and more realistic. If my preview's sounding a little bit like a list of stuff added, that's kind of because that's what I was given tonight. Although the virtual Swick/Thiago welterweight bout was on a bunch of different TVs, developers were talking over it while playing so the match was moving at demonstration speeds and wasn't that amazing before ending with Thiago tapping out to an arm bar. It did look sweet – the graphics are no doubt sharper than last year, as sweat clung to the fighters' chests and blood spurted out as punches rained down on Thiago's face – but that was about it. To drive home that TV presentation, the match ended with the fighters in the ring in post-fight outfits such as Swick's "Dethrone Royalty Texas" shirt.
It wasn't shown, but a THQ press release makes it sound like UFC Undisputed 2010 is making a serious play for one of the best online fighting games. In this year's game you'll apparently be able to form "fight camps and leagues, train like real-life UFC fighters and go online to compete against other camps." There will be online co-op sparring sessions that dictate your credibility, popularity and the types of sponsorships you get. On top of that, this year's career mode will include the "Game Is Watching You" system, which will "track every action and use this information to dictate in-game commentary, opponent intelligence and overall career progression." UFC Undisputed 2010 is giving you new modes such as Title Mode (fight through a weight class to earn and defend a belt), Title Defense Mode (complete milestone challenges on your road to stardom) and Tournament Mode (16-player individual and team).
Personally, I'm excited for UFC Undisputed 2010, and tonight only fanned the flames. The game looks good on an eye-candy level, but it's the kicking to the curb of the rigid animations that has me really excited. I noticed that the chain link of the cage didn't bend when a body was shoved up against it, but hopefully those types of touches can be amended as we lead up to Undisputed 2010's May release date. Because, if they can and all the stuff THQ says it has added actually gets added, this game should kick the crap out of last year's title. There is also jiggle physics for the octagon girls. I thought you should know that.