UFC Undisputed 2010 boasts major gameplay improvements and better online experience

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You talked. THQ listened.

On the heels of their wildly successful entry in the the mixed martial arts and video game community with UFC Undisputed 2009, THQ went back into the lab to tinker around with some of the mechanics that caused a portion of gamers to say "If only I could..." when talking about a sequel.

In fact, after selling 3.5 million copies of Undisputed since it's release in 2009, THQ has been hard at work to reward gamers with an ever more realistic and fluid experience for their 2010 entry, set to hit retail shelves on May 25.

Bigger, better, badder -- which could explain the inclusion of UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar on this year's cover. For the latest details on the gameplay improvements, game designer Omar Kendall dropped a few bombs over at Gamespot UK.

A list of changes and enhancements after the jump.

CONTROLS: In UFC 2009 Undisputed, clinch grappling and ground grappling were handled with multiple control schemes, which could be cumbersome to juggle depending on the fighter's orientation. This year, we undertook a new design philosophy that allowed us to better align our clinch grappling and ground grappling. In essence, players will now perform clinch pummels and throws using the ultimate fighting control the same way they performed transitions in UFC 2009 Undisputed.

SUBMISSIONS: While we've done quite a bit of tinkering with the submission system, the stick rolling method of submission execution and escape (known semiofficially as The Shine) will return. What we did want to change was the button mashing/brute force escape we utilized last year. This enabled fighters with high strength to be just as good at getting out of submissions as fighters with high submission defense. Now all fighters will utilize The Shine, but the parameters that govern the success of getting out of a submission have changed. For UFC Undisputed 2010, the submission calculations will use either a fighter's submission defense or his current energy level expressed as a percentage--whichever is higher. For example, let's say a fighter has a submission defense skill of 50. If the fighter has 100 stamina and full (100 percent) energy, the game will look at this energy level, and the fighter will have a great chance of getting out of a submission. If the fighter has 100 stamina and has used the majority of his energy reserves, the game will look at the fighter's submission defense skill; in this case, shine hard! We feel this system is fairer to players and more representative of how an actual submission struggle would go down.

CAGE SUPPORT: We've implemented full cage support in UFC Undisputed 2010, and its effect on gameplay is huge. Our design approach to implementing cage gameplay allowed us to utilize our universal grapple system concept. On the ground, we have a rising hierarchy of positional advantage based on how much threat potential one fighter has in relation to another. In the case of two equally skilled fighters in open guard, for instance, the fighter on top is in a slightly better situation than the fighter on the bottom. We express this by saying the top fighter has a 55/45 advantage over the bottom fighter, expressed in the damage output of his strikes, the lethality of his submissions, etc. Put the same two fighters in the mount position, for instance, and that advantage changes to something much more dramatic, like say a 90/10 in favor of the top fighter. We've utilized similar thinking with regard to the cage. Let's say we have the same two equally skilled fighters in the single collar tie position in the middle of the octagon. We consider this position to be one in which both fighters have equal advantage--a true 50/50 position. If one fighter manages to push his opponent up against the cage, he'll restrict his movement, limit the force he's able to generate on his strikes, and make it harder for him to regain energy; thus, shifting the balance in the favor of the free-standing fighter. It's an elegant system that we feel accurately represents the strategies employed in a real UFC fight.

FIGHTER CUSTOMIZATION: For UFC Undisputed 2010, we've substantially increased the number of available parts for creation, but we've also added a ton of new features and improvements. One of the biggest changes from the previous game is the way we allow players to allocate individual moves for their fighters. Last year, we had base styles, each of which came with a set of predefined moves. This meant that all Brazilian jujitsu (BJJ) fighters had the same moves and techniques as other BJJ fighters. We wanted to change that this year, so we opened it up and now allow players to assign individual moves to their fighters on a move-by-move basis. There are well over 200 moves that can be assigned, mixed, and matched to create truly unique fighters. Also new this year is the ability to fight orthodox, southpaw, or switch and assign a dominate power hand. Players can also choose their navigation style from a number of different postures to give their fighters more of a distinct look.

SPONSORSHIP & LOGOS: The new system, which we've also applied to the placement of tattoos, uses more of a drag-and-drop style interface. Gone are the predefined spots where logos can only be placed and the series of menus that were required to place a logo. This year, it's as simple as picking shorts, picking a logo, and choosing its location on the shorts. Speaking of clothing, many top brands in MMA are back, along with some new ones, so players will have access to an extensive assortment of new designs and logos. In addition, we are also allowing players to pick or create their own post-fight clothing, which is worn during winner announcement scenes and certain areas in Career mode.

CAREER MODE: Included are several new features to help build up each fight and give them more meaning. An example of this is a new system we've added called "Game Is Watching You." The GIWY system tracks everything players are doing during the fighter's career and reflects it through commentary during fights. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg will reference the fighter's previous fights, his training partners, titles held, and other things he does during his career. Opponents will also take notice of performances and adjust their fight styles and strategies to counter strengths and take advantage of weaknesses.

FIGHTING TECHNIQUES: In addition to the six returning fighting techniques (boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, judo, and Brazilian jujitsu), three more have been added: Karate, Greco-Roman wrestling, and Sambo. We've also moved away from the concept of one striking fighting technique and one grappling fighting technique in favor of a system that allows fighters to learn individual moves as they see fit. We feel this more accurately represents the type of cross-discipline training that the modern UFC fighter needs in order to compete at the highest levels.

ONLINE FIGHT CAMPS: Fight camps unite many different fighters under a single banner to compete against fighters from other fight camps to unlock new milestones and rewards. Players can use the virtual space of their fight camp to spar and teach each other the ins and outs of the game. Players can even bring in their Career mode fighters for an online training session to train with other players and get an extra career "cred" boost. Those boosts make better fighters and those better fighters make better camps.

NEW MODES: Additions include a Title and Title Defense mode, a Tournament mode and the Classic Fights mode will return with substantial changes.

Even more from THQ's Omar Kendall over at Gamespot UK.

As you can see, there are some dramatic improvements to this year's entry. THQ has apparently upped the ante in this new version in response to the pending debut of Electronic Arts "EA Sports MMA" featuring a roster of mostly Strikeforce fighters (with a few exceptions).

Competition breeds excellence and with two major publishers vying for a very specific market, the fans choice for their digitized butt-kicking could depend on just the slightest of variables.

Let's hear it Maniacs, do these improvements satisfy your gripes with the 2009 version? And will you be motivated to buy UFC Undisputed 2010?

Opinions, please.

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