UFC Personal TrainerESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Interactive Exercise, Kinect
Developer: Heavy Iron
Online Multiplayer: 2
1268 KB to Save Game
Kinect Sensor Required
Several weeks ago, I had a chance to check out UFC Personal Trainer for the Xbox 360 Kinect at an event in San Francisco. Needless to say I was impressed and had high hopes for game as it had the potential of being the premier fitness game on the Kinect to date. While fitness games have been a relatively new addition to the video game world, the genre has been on somewhat of a decline for the past couple of years. EA Sports Active is arguably the last half decent fitness game we have seen in recent years and since then the genre has been on a steady decline. So along comes UFC Personal Trainer, offering up an experience unlike we have seen before on the Kinect. After some sweat time with UFC’s fitness game, it appears as though the fitness gaming world has been given a swift kick in the arse as UFC Personal Trainer for the Kinect has raised the bar and taken the genre to a whole new level.
Visually, UFC Personal Trainer is a sharp looking game. When you compare UFC Personal Trainer to other fitness games already on the market, UFC Personal Trainer blows them out of the water. That being said, I still noticed some issues and there is certainly some room for improvement. For starters, some of the lip-synching was ‘out of whack’. The movement of the trainer’s lips did not always jive with the audio voice work nor did it look natural. Additionally, the game’s menus could have used a few more splashes of colour. Finally, some of the trainer’s movements seemed a bit jerky at times. Despite some of the negatives, visually UFC Personal Trainer’s positives outweigh the negatives by quite a large margin.
The UFC fighters and trainers, who are your fitness instructors in the game, look very similar to their real-life counterparts. Dan Hardy features his trademark Mohawk and Greg Jackson looked exactly like his real-life self. The level of detail is stunning as the fighters look exactly as they do in THQ’s UFC fighting game. Also, the way the fighter or trainer moves when he shows you a strike, knee, kick or ‘ground and pound’ is very well done. Sure some of the moves can appear a tad jerky, but these instances are few and far between. Complicated moves are clearly explained with clear visuals and the results are stunning.
The UFC brand is well represented in the game. Everything from the UFC octagon, to the mats, gloves, and even the fighter’s shorts, are exactly as they are in THQ’s UFC fighting game. There are even small details such as a fighter punching on a heavy bag in the background while your trainer provides some instructions. These types of things are a nice little touch. It is this attention to detail that makes UFC Personal Trainer the graphical champion in the fitness gaming genre.
Much like UFC Personal Trainer’s visuals, I was also impressed with the game’s audio. As far as the positives are concerned, UFC Personal Trainer is an authentic experience as the fighters and trainers all lend their voice to the game. They sound exactly as they do in real-life and it just makes the experience that much more authentic. Their voices are clear and their instructions are to the point. The trainers encourage and motivate you as you perform the various moves. The background music in the game features the trademark UFC heavy metal hard rocker tunes. These tunes sound great and blend nicely into the game.
As far as the negatives are concerned, some of the voice work does get repetitive far too quickly into any given workout. I can’t count how many times I was told the importance of warming up cold muscles. It was a minor issue, but I have to be honest it started to grate me after awhile. Another minor audio issue involves the game’s sound effects as they were either too loud or out of place. Jumping jacks, for instance, sounded like my mother was whacking a rug with a broom handle. This was not a major issue but more of a small annoyance.
UFC Personal Trainer is considered a spin-off of THQ's mixed martial arts fighter UFC Undisputed. It offers fitness routines designed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. The fitness routines also feature input from world-renowned MMA trainers like Mark DellaGrotte, Greg Jackson, and Javier Mendez. Anyone who follows the UFC closely will know who those trainers are as they have trained the likes of current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, current UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir. The game was not thrown together by a group of UFC wannabes, but rather was put together by the best in the business. The results are fitting as it is a fitness game that brings a level of authenticity unlike we have seen in a game of this ilk to date.
UFC Personal Trainer has more than 70 different exercises designed to improve strength, endurance, and conditioning. The game also includes 51 prebuilt exercise routines, and users can create their own custom regimens from a selection of 12 exercises. The Xbox 360 Kinect version of the game even factors in voice-command technology. This voice command technology is impressive, and although I didn’t use it as much as I could have, what I did manage to play around with was very accurate and well implemented. The Kinect edition of the game also includes nine exclusive workout routines, which is a nice little added bonus for those who have shelled out for a Kinect. Overall, I was impressed with the amount of content and variety when it comes to the various exercises.
So how does UFC Personal Trainer for the Kinect play? Well quite honestly it is fantastic, and within a matter of minutes I was working up a sweat. Before you jump into any exercise routine or activities, the game has you create your user profile. During the user profile creation process you have to complete a fitness test that helps the game determine the relative difficulty of routines and programs through the number of reps and intensity. For my fitness test I had to do sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks within a set period of time. This came after I entered my age, height and weight. Being a little on the heavier side I was somewhat reluctant to enter my weight, but at the end of the day if you want to see results it is essential you enter the bitter truth. After you have completed the fitness test the game assigns a difficulty leve,l and after that you are ready to work-out UFC style.
Once I played around with some of the games menus and set up my user profile I was ready to roll. I started out with one of the pre-set routines that lasted approximately 15 minutes. Greg Jackson was my trainer and the routine focused on upper body strength. The routine involved a great deal of stretching which caught me by surprise, but again the emphasis is on proper fitness and taking care of your body while exercising in a safe and responsible manner. Eight minutes of the 15-minute routine involved stretching. The rest of the routine involved jabs, punches, ground and pounds.
Standing in front of the Kinect, you follow the trainer’s commands that are very clear and easy to follow. Punching and kicking into virtual pads can seem awkward at times, but in the end you are working up a sweat without using any accessories, straps or weights, so you do get used to the awkwardness rather quickly. I should mention that UFC Personal Trainer does allow you to use weights with many of the exercises. So for those of you with some home weights, or for those looking for a more intense experience, UFC Personal Trainer will accommodate your needs, but trust me you won’t need the extra weights; well not for the first little while anyhow.
As you progress along the various routines, the trainers start to introduce more combinations and other MMA fighting elements. For those looking for some slick combo’s and other moves you would typically see in a UFC fight, the trainers will take you through some moves and patterns. I should note that some of these can get quite complicated at times too. Kicks, knee shots, hooks, uppercuts and ducking are all part of the routine and then some. Bottomline, I don’t think you will ever be bored as UFC Personal Trainer will work every part of your body and mind as you attempt to nail down a jab, jab, punch, knee and kick combo.
In terms of the games responsiveness, there were times that I noticed a slight delay from my actual punches and kicks to the Kinect detecting my motions, but much of this is chalked-up to the hardware and limitations of the Kinect. Nevertheless, I was stunned with how accurate it read my MMA moves. Not to mention I was building up quite the sweat as I was trying to keep up with the trainer’s commands. The experience was quite fun as I was reliving some of my old Karate days from when I was in the sport as a teenager oh so many years ago.
As you workout, UFC Personal Trainer features a player tracker that acts as the central location for a wide range of information based on what you do in the game. Statistics like the average time spent in game to average calories burned are tracked and displayed with graphs. You can check on your progress towards your goals and there is you will even find some unlockable content when you hit certain objectives throughout the game.
For those of you who want a little less structure and just want to duke it out MMA style, there is Free Striking mode. Here you can shadowbox with a variety of pieces of equipment from a traditional heavy bag to a speed bag. In speed bag mode, you are given a target speed to reach, and then you must strike consistently at that pace until the meter changes and a new target speed is set. It is great way to work up a sweat without the structure of a normal exercise routine.
Additionally the mitts mode has you performing various striking routines taking what you have learned in the game. It allows you to work on your quickness and reaction time. The patterns themselves are broken into three difficulties: easy, medium and hard. They are a challenge and will have your heart beating as you stare down a UFC fighter as he holds out the virtual combat pads. In this mode you are judged on your accuracy and elapsed time in completing each routine. Your results are then tracked in the Player Tracker.
For those looking for some long-term results, UFC Personal Trainer includes separate long-term workout programs. Whether it is building strength, dropping weight, or increasing your stamina, UFC Personal Trainer has a program to suit your needs. These programs have two durations, 30 and 60 days. I have yet to hunker down and try one of the long-term programs, but that is certainly next on my to-do list. UFC Personal Trainer features a Program Calendar that is essentially your workout schedule. When you start one of six programs, you can view upcoming workouts and rest days. You can also flip over to the Player Tracker to see how you are coming along.
UFC Personal Trainer also features three different multiplayer modes. In Asynchronous Challenges you send online challenges to your friends to beat your score in hit the mitts, speed bag or free striking. Hot Seat Multiplayer has you playing through the activities and challenging a friend to step in and beat your score. Finally, Side-By-Side Multiplayer has you compete head to head with a friend. All in all, the multiplayer component is a nice addition for those looking for some bragging rights. Other than this, I can’t see the multiplayer portion of the game really taking off.
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