Already during the first few minutes we've seen overhauls on presentation and character design. The developer's stamp is looking more like the mark of a marching band.
Still, you'd likely miss all the changes. So its a smart move to get commentator Mike Goldberg to explain them all, as it also provides a good introduction to the series' many options.
Likewise its smart that any new career in UFC Undisputed 3 requires you to go through a few training missions, proving you've mastered the basics of management. For those not previously acquainted with the series, there's much to learn.
Maybe because the game's combat system and management are so radically different from any other title in the genre that a welcoming hand - offering new players a simplified version of the ground fighting system - is necessary. Many moves and submissions can be executed using up or down on the right analog stick, though the original, extensive system is offered as well.
As before, in spite of such diverse possibilities as Title Mode (lose three matches and you're out), Tournament Mode (participate in a tournament) and Ultimate Fights Mode (relive some of the greatest fights from UFC and Pride), it's Career Mode in which you'll end up spending most of your time, and one that offers a few surprises.
The Training System, where you specialize and improve your athleticism, no longer offers player choice on times for training and subsequent rest period.
Instead you're given "Actions" between fights that determine how many training sessions you can attain. These Actions can used either in Training Sessions (improving basic skills), Camp Sessions (teaching you new tricks) and Game Plan (granting you skill bonuses).
Although the system's been streamlined, there are still problems.
Firstly, there are so many different statistics that it can be hard to figure out which ones interact exactly. And training is hampered further by the fact that all training provides both plus and minus points, meaning its hard to train up a well-balanced fighter. Instead you're forced to specialise, and its strange when the likes of George St. Pierre can go in the ring as a seemingly perfect all-round fighter.
The opportunity to join one of the most popular real-world training sites is good. However the range is small, and you're left wondering why the likes of Xtreme Couture, Roufus Sport, Team Deathclutch or Nova Uniao aren't present in the game. And most of the advanced moves you do learn are so unrealistic for actual use you'll avoid them, or see the matches turn into Matrix-style slugfests.
Whether you specialize in ground fighting or standing struggles, the goal is to get the opponent to give up. While the developer has integrated feedback brilliantly and added new additions, there's still too few.
For example, I cheered when I first heard that this time it should be possible to get the opponents to give up using kicks to the body and legs.
Yet it amazes me I can deliver over twenty kicks with an athlete specialised in this area, yet it have no discernible affect. Anyone who had expected to go into the ring as an Edson Barboza or Pat Barry and neutralize their opponent with a few well placed kicks to the leg, can think again.
It is disappointing that the fastest, easiest and most effective way to win a battle is still to train mainly in hooks and headkicks, shaving away a opponent's endurance until they're on the floor.
Another much-talked about element this time is the addition of the Pride league.
Although the Japanese variant had to close its doors back in 2007, there are many who have never forgotten the great tournaments that were the breakthrough for fighters as Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Wanderlai Silva, Mirko "CroCop" Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and many others. Fortunately so much effort has been poured into this part of the game it's almost like experiencing the league in all its glory once more.
The addition of Pride offers a different set of rules, where kicks and knees are allowed (even if the opponent lying on the floor), a ten minute first round in something like a boxing ring instead of an octagon.
It is somewhat ironic that these changes to the battle system actually gives a more noticeable difference than the finer details that the developer would otherwise have spent more time talking about.
Further, it is simply amazingly cool that THQ has ensured that this part of the game uses Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros as commentators. Their input is absolutely sublime and sets the mood perfectly.
however, only know that you have hired the unforgettable Lenne Hardt, or "crazy pride lady" as the Japanese call her, to introduce athletes to its unique way.
Make no mistake: UFC Undisputed 3 is a better game than its predecessor and feels much more like a true sequel than the update-flavored brawl we were offered in the form of UFC 2010 Undisputed.
The genre's increasingly positive developments means the likes of UFC 2010 would have scored far worse today, and even with the improvements Undisputed 3 scores lower than its predecessor.