2011-07-26

UFC Personal Trainer – This Is Getting Repetitive

by Yo Snyder

You know the great thing is about all three consoles having their own
form of motion control? Now you can do your home workout with some sort
of interactive workout video game on any console. We’re no longer
restricted to just working out with the Wii. Nice, isn’t it? It’s also
nice that video games are helping us all stay in shape as well, but with
so many games in the “fitness genre”, it’s almost as tough to stand out
as it is in the first person shooter genre. Well, how about taking one
of the fastest growing sports in popularity and turning that into a
fitness game? That’ll grab people’s attention, right? Besides, who
wouldn’t want to look like an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter?
Well, although it has the veneer of being something different, UFC Personal Trainer really isn’t all that different from the myriad of fitness games already available, and in some ways it’s worse.

For the most part, UFC Personal Trainer is a solid workout.
You have plenty of options to get the workout you want. You can do short
preset workouts that focus on certain muscle groups or activities, or
you can make your own workouts. You can also do longer pre-set routines
that last 30 or 60 days, which is important because as we all know,
staying fit takes time. And finally, you can also pick one of three
different trainers to guide you through your workouts. Apparently
they’re all actual UFC fighters, but I don’t follow the sport, so it
didn’t really make much difference to me.

Once you make your selections, the workout can begin. Well, actually,
first you’ll get some UFC girl who will give a pretty dry bio on the
trainer you’ve chosen. I don't even know what this is, but it makes you sweat.I don’t know why anyone would need this big
intro, other than to inform them that this is a real person being
represented on screen and they really do participate in UFC fights. I
suppose it’s interesting to fans, but I wanted to jump right into my
workout. Unfortunately, the voice recognition didn’t seem to want to
work too well, so I couldn’t tell it to “skip intro”. Ah well. Before
you get training, first you have to take a fitness test. Here you’ll do
push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks and then take your pulse, input the
data, and the game will let you know what level you are. I garnered an
intermediate level, and considering that I do maintain a fairly mild
level of regular workouts and play basketball regularly, that seemed
fairly accurate. And so with all of this introductory stuff out of the
way, it was on to the workout.

It all starts with stretching, because after all, we don’t want to
work cold muscles. How do I know this? Because it was repeated to me
about a dozen times in the short span of the seven minutes or so I spent
stretching before my workout. Here is one of the glaring problems with
UFC Personal Trainer; the audio is extremely repetitive. Now, I’m sure
you’re thinking that has little impact on the actual workout, but that’s
only mostly true. If you’re trying to present something as an
interactive workout program, it totally ruins the illusion of being in a
gym with a personal trainer if your trainer can only say a handful of
phrases; often in a very repetitive fashion. It ruins the whole ambiance
of the workout form. Now granted, this is a problem with just about
every workout game out there, including Wii Fit and EA Sports Active,
but their repetitiveness isn’t nearly as egregious as this. Instead of
being excited about working out with an actual UFC Fighter, I cringed at
the prospect because after only two sessions I already knew 90% of what
he’d say (the other 10% only changed when he was giving instructions
for a new exercise).

Now, as for the workout itself, well, it was pretty decent. It’s a
nice mix of cardio and strength training, and while I may not be ready
to fight in the octagon any time soon, the fighting moves did help me
work up a good sweat. However, while I understand the importance of
stretching, I think it took up a bit too much of my workout. It was just
over half and maybe about two-thirds of the time I spent each day.
Often, just when my heart rate is getting up and I’m working up a good
sweat, I’m already doing my cool-down stretching. I also had a strong
sense of familiarity. Many of these exercises were on EA Sports Active 2, and many of the boxing moves were similar to Gold’s Gym Cardio Boxing.
The fact that they’re similar isn’t a problem, the fact that I enjoyed
these exercises more in those other games is. I can’t even say for sure
why, but the others felt more like workout while this (and again it may
be because I’m not a UFC Fan) felt more like a gimmick. Regardless, you
will find a solid workout here.

Kinect adds a little something extra to the workout as you can use
your own weights, which I think is always a plus. The response of Kinect
is pretty good, about the same as EA Sports Active (around 85 –
90% accurate). However, the big draw-back to using Kinect for these
exercise games is that the conditions need to be just right. You need
the right space and the right lightning to get optimum performance, and
it can be hard to get those conditions just right. And if you have to
move furniture around like I do to clear the space, well, getting ready
for the workout can be a workout in and of itself before you ever get
started.

UFC Personal Trainer is a decent fitness program
that has some glaring problems. Things like really repetitive audio and
the fact that the timer for certain exercises is a minute long but it
only takes you 45 seconds to do the set which leaves you standing around
for the rest of the time really drags the whole experience down. There
is some decent workouts to be had here, but unless you’re a super-fan of
UFC fighting, you’re probably better off getting fit with something
like EA Sports Active or Wii Fit Plus.

Score out of 7:

Graphics:
4 – Nothing really special to look at. The fighters more or less look
like they should, and the punching bag looks like a punching bag…not a
lot of visual flair here, and I actually found the darker, muted color
scheme overall to be a bit depressing (not only do I have to work out, I
have to work out in a dungeon!)

Sound: 3 – You will get very
familiar with some key phrases very quickly. It really ruins the
illusion of working out with an actual UFC fighter when they say the
same thing over and over and over again.

Gameplay: 4 – It’s a
decent enough workout, with lots of options to customize the workout
they way you want. However, you need to be careful, you won’t get any
feedback on whether or not you’re doing something incorrectly, and
little enough instruction on how to do it right from the get-go.

Control:
4 – About average for the responsiveness and accuracy of Kinect, which
also depends on having the right conditions (enough room and light).

Story: N/A

Content: 6 – Aside from slightly sultry girls of UFC doing some intros, not much to concern yourself with here.

Final:
4 – UFC Personal Trainer is a decent enough workout, but it doesn’t
feel all that distinct from other workout games. If you’re a major UFC
fan and what something to help you stat fit at home, this is a decent
option. For everyone else, there are better choices out there.