First of all, I would LOVE to give this game a 5-star, but for reasons explained below I will stick with the 3-star now. My primary reason for the demotion is that I think the issues with UFC Personal Trainer could have been avoided, but it seems that they either ran out of time or did not do enough testing on their subjects to iron out the wrinkles.
Okay, first things first. UFC (Personal Trainer) is nothing like any other exercise Kinect title out there. The closest you'll get to it is EA Sports Active 2. While most titles are focusing on the aerobic and circuit part of exercising, UFC truly is a 'WORKOUT' like I used to know, i.e. weights and muscle building. This title has areas that claims to give you cardio workouts, etc, but it's not the Your Shape Fitness crunches-style with a 20 minute aerobic session. No, instead UFC is a very structured workout presentation that brings in the well-known reps and sets. Now for those of you who haven't really done a serious workout at a gym, a repetition is how many you do of a particular exercise, like 10 push-ups, and a set is how many times you do those push-ups, like 3 sets. That means, that you will do 10x push-ups, take a break, and then twice more, in total 30 push-ups. Some may say I'm explaining too much now, but it did confuse some of my friends who have only gone to the gym to do yoga, aerobics, or spinning.
Once you understand that this is the focus of UFC, you'll quickly understand how the programmes are structured. In the end it all comes down to this - strengthening your muscles and doing an endurance workout. If you do not have weights this workout will become useless after a week or two as you've already maxed out your muscle at that point and should scale up, so make sure you've got basic weights or a set of dumbbells at home when you get UFC. Most will say the weights are optional, and I'll agree if this was EA Sports Active 2 or Get Fit with Mel B, but not with UFC Personal Trainer. These exercises have been thrown together by experts and I am pretty sure they have always used weights while exercising. You'll even realise quickly that without adding weights to certain exercises that they are pretty useless.
And then, this is going to be commitment and hard work. You cannot test UFC Personal Trainer for a week and then give up for a month, as this will damage your body more than do any good. You'll have to get down and commit yourself to at least a 30-day programme. What they do not tell you in the programme is that if you feel that the exercises are easy you're probably not pushing yourself. From my days of lifting weights we were taught that you always need to add weight once you get comfortable with a specific weight to work on that muscle memory. If you do not push yourself for harder weights or quicker reps this workout will turn out to be fruitless in the short and long run.
Finally before I break down the cons and pros of the game for me, do not expect to become some martial arts kung fu fighter with this game. The workouts are 95% traditional gym workouts, with a few exercises of fighting thrown in. These are not the centre of the game as they are clearly not the means to the end, but the end itself. UFC Personal Trainer is an exercise title that will help you get strong and work on your endurance, and if done right, help you build up an awesome six pack or nice lean athletic body.
- Tutorials to each exercise is not intuitive. If you activate this option in the options menu it will make you do the blasted tutorial for each exercise, even if that means 3 times in a workout as the exercise will have 3 sets. This is becomes very annoying after a week because they will still be telling you 3 times in one workout how to do a push-up. Some games actually will show you once or twice how to do an exercise and then automatically skip the tutorial for exercises you've done already, and only show you the new ones. If you do turn off the option in the option menu then you get no tutorials at all, which may prove problematic for those new exercises that may creep in in the future.
- Just like many other games, the "one-liners" the trainers use get oh-so repetitive within two workout sessions. In a cool down session after a workout they may repeat the benefits of stretching out after a workout as much as 20 times. Overkill and there is no way to switch this off. It kind of feels like brainwashing after a while when you realise how often they repeat certain things.
- This part I don't get. If it happens that Kinect for some obscure reason loses me on the floor (or I quickly step out to the bathroom) it wants to confirm I'm the same person when I return. Go through the set up of recognition again. Now common sense dictates that the same person will start and finish a workout, unless you are a serious cheater. I'm pretty sure that if I had decided to quit my workout and someone else wanted to take over we will go to the Main Menu and have that person sign in.
- UFC often and clearly misses some reps. Do a push up and every now and again it doesn't register. Actually, this doesn't bother me personally as I've gotten used to this from other games too, but it does drive you crazy when there is 5 seconds left to do one more push up to qualify and it DOES NOT register at that moment. Then you feel like throwing the box at the TV. I think this kind of aggravation should not be part of a work out and I have for the life of me not figured out when it does register certain moves and when it does not. My hit rate is about 95% accuracy which one could argue is awesome, but like I've mentioned, that 5% miss can come at the most inappropriate times. This is the main reason I am giving this game a 3-star review, as this technical side should have gotten more attention during development. If they cannot make certain exercises work properly they should leave them out. Then again, EA Sports Active 2 picks up my push ups with no problem, so this is not a Kinect problem but a developer one. One I sincerely hope they can fix in a patch and not let us wait for "new improvements" in a subsequent 2012 release.
- During exercises you are given the opportunity to choose your weights. Fine-tuning the exact weight on the menu is an extreme hassle. They should have thought this better through. If I want to adjust my weights from 1kg to 5 kgs, it will start running past the 5...then I have to back down, then it runs past the 5 again to 3, so in the end you stand there adjusting the weight meter one by one. A pure waste of time. My suggestion is that they can give you a table of preset weights in the digits from 1 to 9, plu 0, and then an additional table from 10 to 90, and 100+. So for example if your weights are 23 kgs, you can click on the 20 in the one table and then the 3 in the other. Voila. Two clicks and zero frustration. (Maybe this will not annoy others like me, but during one workout I will adjust my weights and this has turned out to be very cumbersome.)
- This is a workout like you'll observe (or have experienced) workouts in a gym. You do a set of push ups, then hang around for 10 seconds and drink some water. Get your weights ready and then do your next set of Arnold presses. Then hang around for 10 seconds again, sip some more water and then get yourself ready for the next exercise. If you've done this in a gym you won't be bothered by it, but some of my friends could not get into it after doing Your Shape Fitness Evolved and Get Fit With Mel B. They wanted the exercises to be strung-along, continuous and quickly set. A true "weight" workout does not work like that, though, so kudos to UFC Personal Trainer keeping it true to form. But then, be aware of what you are in for. Like I've mentioned above, to get the best out of this, you will need weights at home.
- If you stick with the programmes you'll get value for money. After one month my muscles have greatly toned and I can do 500% more weights than I could at the beginning, granted I started on a feeble 3... Judging I'm now on 15kgs and pushing myself even further I am rather satisfied that the exercises are indeed working. If you start afresh you'll burn the first two weeks, and badly. I couldn't get in my car after the first few workouts and taking off my jersey was a schlep. But now I can look in the mirror and physically see the results.
- You get the sense of professionalism as the guys training you are masters themselves. (Though I have to add they are all reading the same script. You realise this when you do a second workout with a different trainer and they say exactly the same thing.)
- The games, just like a real life workout, inspires you to push yourself pass the limit. Maybe they will ask you to do 10 push-ups, but when you are done, they will encourage you to do 3 more. This is not necessary, but they motivate you to go for it - something very important in a workout.
- I thought the menus are better than most Kinect titles out there and easy to navigate around, except for those pesky ones where you have to navigate up or down to get a number, like aforementioned.
- This is a great selection of workouts and exercises for anyone interested in building on their strength and endurance. For those who went to the gym for aerobics, pilates or yoga, stay away from this title.
Apart from the technical issues the presentation and contents itself cannot be faulted with. If you are into sports then this is the title you should consider. I'm positive that if you can keep up doing this your sports injuries will go down to a minimum.
UFC Personal Trainer is not just another addition to the exercise titles of Kinect, but it's complimentary in the sense that there isn't anything like it out there at the moment. Read more ›