As the UFC's popularity increased exponentially over the last number of years, you can expect the same will apply to the promotion's video game series.
One would hope that the quality of gameplay in the EA Sports franchise would do the same. Luckily, UFC 4 ticks that box.
Two-and-a-half years had passed since the release of UFC 3, meaning there was plenty of time to apply some major changes to the newest game. We haven't been left disappointed. Every part of the game has received a major overhaul, be it in terms the feel of the game, career mode, online fights, or other game modes.
In previous titles in this series, it could be said that they were three distinct and very separate parts to any fight: the standup game, the clinch, and grappling/ground game. Each category felt somewhat disjointed from the others, with the slow transitions between each one making for a sometimes clunky playing experience.
In UFC 4, all three categories have essentially been blended together. Players can move seamlessly from the feet, to the ground, to the clinch, and back again. All this cane be done within a matter of seconds.
The clinch especially has seen some major improvements. Gone are the clinch assists that saw very slow transitions and turned many people off using that part of their arsenal.
Now, your fighter can quickly grab an opponent and deliver a killer blow before they even have a chance to react. Similarly, this also gives you the ability to quickly get away from opponents when defending the clinch.
In short, clinch and standup have now been combined into one. The gameplay is all the better for it.
In terms of striking, greater emphasis is now placed on varying your style and landing combos. Bombarding your opponent with overhand punches will only get you so far.
Fighters have much lighter hands, especially earlier in fights, and you can also switch more easily between hands and legs strikes to allow for some tasty combos.
In the ground game, the main change comes submissions. The old submission system from UFC 3 has been scrapped, with a new dynamic system that is friendlier to inexperienced players arriving in its place.
There is also the option to use a simplified grapple assist, although the 'legacy' version is still available if you want go more old school.
Career mode follows much of the same format as UFC 3, albeit with more depth. Fighters will start out at the bottom of the food chain, before slowly moving towards UFC superstardom. You will offered different fights, work your way through training camps and fight promotion, before stepping into the octagon.
One difference is that players will now have greater control over which attributes they want to improve. There are various types of sparring on offer, as well as the ability to invite other fighters into your training camp.
The way you perform and type of moves you use in fights now also has a direct impact on how your fighter develops. For example, if you finish a fight with the 'ground and pound', that trait will automatically be upgraded going forward.
Another new component of career mode is the 'relationship system'. This allows you to build rivalries or respect with other UFC fighters, which can have an impact on your fights, especially in the buildup.
UFC 4 also hands your fighter the ability to move up and down in weight classes whenever you choose for the first time.
There are various ways to play UFC 4 outside of career mode.
In offline modes, along with standard fights you have modes such as 'stand and bang' which eliminates the ground game, 'knockout mode' which requires you to inflict a smaller amount of damage before knocking your opponent out, or custom fights where you dictate the terms.
There is also the option to create full fight cards or fight tournaments.
In online, the online world titles are still in effect. However, you now have to win less fights before a shot at the title.
EA Sports have also added 'blitz battles', which features short matches where the rules are constantly changing.
UFC 4 is definitely a major upgrade over its predecessors.
The gameplay is far more fluid, mimicking much more closely the UFC action that we see in real life. The clinch has become a major weapon, while players will no longer be turned off the ground game in a way they have been in previous titles.
The career mode is more in-depth, offering greater control over your fighter's destiny. That eliminates some of the repetitiveness that had previously been present, with players often limited to training and repeatedly fighting against the same opponents.
In summary, we are big fans.