UFC Personal Trainer is now available in stores and it is one of the best fitness games available for Kinect. The team over at Heavy Iron Studios has done a really great job incorporating the UFC into this game as well as the fighters and trainers that everyone loves to watch. To help with the development of this game, THQ and Heavy Iron Studios teamed up with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). The NASM is responsible for the certification of personal trainers across the country and provides continuing education for sports trainers around the world. Being able to utilize the NASM and their wealth of knowledge for this title definitely helped when it came to creating the different exercises. There are routines and programs that have been designed to build strength, cut weight, improve coordination and more along with real mixed martial arts techniques. There is almost always either a trainer or a UFC fighter on screen showing you how to do any given exercise and motivating you along the way. If you happen to miss your goal for any given exercise your trainer will also mention that as well and encourage you to do better next time. I liked that the game didn’t just gloss over the fact that you didn’t meet the requirement for an exercise. The trainer gives you a hard time for a few seconds and then motivates you to do better the next time. Motivation is key when you are exercising and UFC Personal Trainer does a tremendous job of achieving that goal. In addition to showing you how to do the exercises your trainer will try and verbally motivate you and then once you meet your goal they will have you try and do some extra reps to really push yourself.
The first thing that you will do is a fitness test so that the game will know where you are at physically and so the game can better tailor the exercises to meet your needs. Once you go through that you will be presented with a bunch of different options. You can either select workouts, activities, programs, quick workout, multiplayer games or player tracker. The workouts option will have you train with either Mark Dellagrotte, Greg Jackson or Javier Mendez. You are then presented with the option of going through pre-made workouts or creating your own program. This was a fantastic idea by the development team as you can really customize the game to your liking and work on the areas you really feel need to be addressed. You can choose from dozens of exercises to build your program and then save it for future use.
The activities option is a way for you to exercise while doing different tasks. Some of the options here include “Hit the Mitts,” “Free Striking,” “Tire Flip” and “Speed Bag”. With “Hit the Mitts” you have a trainer/fighter in the Octagon with you holding up some “mitts” and working with you on your boxing. You will work on your jabs, cross punches, uppercuts and more. With the “Tire Flip” activity you will kneel down close to the ground (essentially doing a squat) and then stand back up and push your hands forward as if you were really flipping a tire. The “Speed Bag” activity has you trying to maintain a steady string of punches and the “Free Striking” activity should be self explanatory. There are also video segments where UFC Personal Trainer will give you information through a video. These live video segments include UFC fighters and trainers and Rachelle Leah. Videos range from “Goal Setting” to “Weight Loss” to the “R.I.C.E. Method” and more.
If you want something a bit more structured there are 30 and 60 day programs that you can participate in. As soon as you pick whatever program you want to do you are then given the option of choosing what program you want to participate in (cutting weight, endurance, etc…). You are then presented with a calendar that shows your workout schedule for the week. What I really liked about this mode is how adaptive that it was. One day it might have you doing mostly leg work and then the next day it might have you do work on your upper body. It is the same type of thing that you would do in a real gym where you don’t want to work out the same muscle group two days in a row. I’m sure this is where some of the NASM influence comes in as each workout targets a different group of muscles. Safety is continually stressed as well and before each workout the trainer will walk you through some warm up exercises to get your heart pumping and then some cool down exercises once you are finished with the main program. Additionally, if you happen to miss a day in your program the calendar will adjust accordingly so that you don’t miss out on any of the exercises. The calendar seems to be realistic as it will have you workout for three days in a row and then it will give you a day off to recuperate. Obviously you can do other things within the game on your “day off” but there won’t be any exercises available within the program itself. Throughout the whole time you will have your trainer there encouraging you and pushing you to achieve your goals. It should also be noted that UFC Personal Trainer does support using peripherals such as dumbbells. There are times where it would ask me if I was using dumbbells or not and, if I was, how much they weighed so that the game could take that into account.
There is also a multiplayer component to UFC Personal Trainer. You will have standard leaderboards to see where you rank amongst other players in various challenges. You will also have “Side By Side” where you compete alongside a friend as you battle for the high score in either “Tire Flip” or “Speed Bag”. “Hot Seat” is another mode where you take turns battling for the high score in “Hit the Mitts” or “Speed Bag”. Then, of course, there is the Xbox Live Challenge where you can send/receive up to 18 challenges to/from your friends in “Hit the Mitts”. My experience with these modes was a positive one and they seemed to work well. It will be interesting to see how the community will embrace it.
Finally, you have the “Player Tracker” which is where you will get all of your statistics. It has a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator which utilizes your personal data to determine the ideal amount of calories you should consume each day. It also has your other personal data such as gender, weight and things of that nature. This is also where you have access to your various numbers such as how many hours you have spent playing the game, how many calories you tend to burn during an exercise session, the breakdown of the muscle groups that you work on and more. It is a great place for people who really want to monitor their progress. Of course you have achievements as well and the achievements were done in such a way that they will also motivate you to play the game. There is an achievement for doing a workout three days in a row, 30 days in a row and 100 days in a row. There is also a achievement for performing a workout every day in the week as well as others such as successfully complete 500 exercises or activities, complete a 30 day program, complete a 60 day program and things of that nature. These seem to be really well thought out and should help keep players motivated to work out and play this game on a consistent basis.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with UFC Personal Trainer and I can definitely see myself continuing to play this game for a long time. This is definitely one of the best fitness games to come out for Kinect and it shows a level of polish that the other titles didn’t have. Kinect itself was very responsive with this game and it seems like that developers are really starting to understand how to utilize it. Games can still get better obviously, however, THQ and Heavy Iron Studios are definitely on the right path. I didn’t have any problems with Kinect picking up my movements and there were a couple of times when I would try and cheat at the game but Kinect wouldn’t allow it. If the game wanted me to throw a punch with my right hand and I did it with my left instead then Kinect wouldn’t register it and let me cheat the system. The one caveat to this game is that you are going to need enough space to stretch out on the ground when you have to do ground exercises such as push ups, sit ups or anything like that. Nyko has a fascinating accessory that will be released this August which is going to help solve that problem, so if you only have a small space available to play Kinect titles I would definitely look at that solution. UFC Personal Trainer makes a fantastic supplement to your already existing workout routine. As long as you take it seriously then you should definitely get into better shape by incorporating this title into your daily schedule. Most people won’t ever get the chance to work out with their favorite MMA fighter but this is the next best thing. If, for example, you are a fan of Cain Velasquez then you can have him train you and show you how he trains for upcoming fights. The Kinect version even has some exclusive fighters such as Frank Mir, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez and Dan Hardy. If you are at all interested in fitness games or a UFC fan in general you should definitely try this game. You will have a lot of fun playing it while at the same time getting into better shape and becoming more healthy without even realizing it.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network