UFC 2009 Undisputed, last year’s licensed adaptation of the mixed martial arts tournament, was an "out of nowhere" success story. Now its inevitable sequel is just weeks away, and on Tuesday, we were invited to step into the proverbial octagon to take a look at THQ’s latest.

At first glance, it appears and plays much the same as the last, but UFC 2010 includes a number of new and improved features. Foremost among these is the new “sway” system which allows you to dodge attacks and retaliate while your opponent is off balance. There are also three new fighting styles over 100 new characters, and a new Southpaw stance.

You can also create your own custom character that you’ll be able to take to different technique training camps.

Having never played UFC 2009, I cannot tell you how 2010 might compare – but it’s probably too soon for that, anyway. What I can tell you is how much fun it is to play and even watch a match. As you’re probably aware, UFC is brutal.

We’re inclined to think of martial arts as something fluid and graceful to watch. In reality of course, it’s a viscous sport of small openings, rib-cracking contact, sweat and black eyes. UFC 2010’s physics engine delivers just that: It’ll bring the bloodlust out as you feel the thudding impact of the blows given and received.

Our limited time with the game left me with only a passing understanding of the controls. I understand the basic punch, kick, block stuff; however when it got to the more complicated grappling moves (or when things became more intimate on the ground) I had no idea what I was doing or how I was doing what was happening on the screen.

Be aware that there will be a definite learning curve to mastering the game’s fighting mechanics. There is also an interesting element of unpredictability to the fights. It’s possible to get a lucky punch or kick and knock your opponent out early or get a sudden victory even if you were losing all fight.

The ebb and flow of fights also affect your character. On one occasion my opponent and I were up against the wall rubbing our knees together. Once we found a way to break out of our embrace, our characters were noticeably tired; their punches were wider and slower. It’s an interesting mechanic that I can see a lot of people using strategically in fights.

UFC 2010 will include two new game modes, Title and Title Defense mode, and Tournament mode for up to 16 players or teams. Online, you’ll be able to form “Fight Clubs” with other players and compete against other training camps.

The commentators are also worth a special mention. Not only did they get UFC’s Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, but the commentary is done in a way that does not feel like the usual queue of voice recordings triggered by button prompts. It truly feels like they are watching your match and simply coming up with this stuff as the match plays out. Sure there is some repetition here and there but it was still highly entertaining to listen to – for now.

I can’t lie to you: For the most part I took a drubbing. Well, I won my first match, got randomly knocked out in my second and for the third got TKO'd. But considering this TKO involved my opponent viciously beating me to a bloody pulp while I lay helpless on the mat, so “technical” is a matter of perspective... fun to watch, though.

UFC Undisputed 2010 is due for release on the 28th of May on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.