Review: UFC Personal Trainer

Mixed Martial Arts is one heck of an intense sport. The competitors are trained to the peak of physical perfection, then are unleashed upon each other to – for lack of a better term – beat each other senseless. They’re top athletes, and you too could be as good as they are using UFC Personal Trainer…if you’re willing to invest a lot of patience, suffer through boredom and listen to repetitive instructions over and over again, that is. If you are planning on getting your kids into mixed martial arts I recommend going to Gracie Barra Garden Grove. They have great trainers that know what they’re doing.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game itself, this is basically a traditional style Kinect fitness game, the only difference being that this time it has the license of UFC slapped upon it, thus appealing to a wider demographic of MMA fans. Thing is though, there’s absolutely no need for the UFC license – you won’t be fighting in the octagon and aside from a few UFC trainers who you can exercise with, this just seems like your bog standard, run-of-the-mill exercise game. This is why, for the most part, this game suffers. In my opinion, instead of being just a simple exercise simulation programme, this game should of being combined with the existing UFC game, offering an optional exercise programme where you learn MMA moves that can be then  integrated into actually taking part in fights in the octagon. Alas, that wasn’t to be, and UFC Personal Trainer simply feels like a cheap cash-in on the ever-popular gaming exercise franchise.

Coupled with the fact that this is a cash-in, the game itself isn’t all that fun. Now, you may argue that an exercise game isn’t about fun, it’s about exercise, but many other games such as Wii Fit have tried to counter the monotony of exercise by including some at least reasonably fun minigames that are tied to exercise.  Now UFC does include minigames (about three in total) but these are not fun – you can only, for example, pretend to punch a punchbag so many times before you begin to realise you can actually ‘punch’ the bag by simply doing dance moves (which I did just to make it more fun for myself – thanks for that, Dance Central). There’s also a highly ridiculous minigame where you have to pretend, using your best squatting actions, that you’re picking up a huge, tractor-sized tyre. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but surely the exercise benefit of picking up said tyre is completely negated by the fact that you’re only pretending to pick up the damn tyre? It just seems totally pointless.

 

In terms of being an actual exercise programme, UFC is rather hit and miss. Speaking from my own personal experiences using the Kinect device, I often found it exceptionally hard to angle the device in such a way that I could complete each exercise activity effectively. For example, a workout may begin with some routine lunges, but after completion of your lungy antics, the game may then force you down onto all fours (don’t let your mind wander now) and make you do some push-ups. Thing is, Kinect won’t adjust here to look at the floor (which would make sense), instead you’ll have to adjust it yourself/hope for the best, which proves to be exceptionally time consuming and moustache-pulling infuriating. Or hair pulling, if you happen to be without a moustache.

As well as the severe lack of optimized Kinect following, the tracking of the device in this game doesn’t work particularly well either. You can do a perfect push-up, then the game won’t recognise you’ve done it. You can even do a perfect push-up, see the game doesn’t recognise it, then stick your backside as high in the sky as humanly possible and it still won’t recognise you’ve done it. Sure, in your own mind you have realised that, despite the game’s lack of tallying you have in fact done a fine and dandy push-up, but to have this unrecognised by a game that forces you into exercise in the first place is pretty much a hefty slap in the face. With a frying pan. Speaking of which, since UFC Personal Trainer rewards the player with new content and ‘rates’ the quality of their exercise routine, failing miserably at an exercise because Kinect doesn’t track you properly rapidly leads you to become increasingly angry with the title, which in turn leads to wanting to play it less and less.

That said though, UFC Personal Trainer does have a varied amount of exercise routines, usually mixed up into a different concoction of different antics based on your skill level, age, or fitness choices. You can set the game to challenge you on a daily basis, basically doing a ‘daily routine’, where it will automatically generate a user specific exercise programme based on what you want to get out of the game. I’ll warn you now though – these are not for the faint of hearted. Being 21 years or age, young and sprightly, I thought I’d be ok doing this. What happened though? After a thirty minute workout, I descended, practically zombified, onto my bed, a sweaty and shaky mess of my former self. This could be because I’m relatively unfit, or it’s just that punishing. I believe the latter of those options is true.

 

In tandem with your personalized exercise programme, UFC Personal Trainer also – and there’s a big clue in the game’s title here, see if you can spot it – gives you a personal trainer. From UFC. There’s a few of these guys, all with their own personal voice acting and character models and, my god, they’re so annoying. Within five minutes of hearing the phrase ‘you don’t want to exercise cold muscles’ at least six times, you’ll want to stab them in the eyes with toothpicks, and will probably end up playing the game on mute. Thankfully they’re more tolerable during the nice HD cutscenes in the game where they explain your fitness programme and stuff – these also sometimes star random good-looking women in tight exercise outfits for no apparent reason, so if that’s your thing, go nuts.

Again, the implementation of the UFC license really is just a means for them to market this title. They’re simply not needed at all, and most of the UFC content is highly annoying and will have you reaching for the mute button (if your exhausted arms are still functional – if not, use your nose, it can be surprisingly effective).Thankfully, since this is a Kinect game, sometimes you don’t need an old fashioned remote. No, instead you can spend your time shouting yourself hoarse at your television screen, shouting such things as ‘Trainer, Skip Movie!’ or ‘Trainer, Go Away!’ (the last one doesn’t work, but it really should).You can also use the power of your voice to scroll through menus if you can’t be bothered to move, and its a nice touch, but doesn’t work particularly well all of the time due to conflicting sounds coming from the television. Or it could be that Kinect isn’t optimized toward my Northern English accent. One of the two.

The ManaVerdict

An exercise programme that could of been so much better had it included actual fighting after learning some cool moves, UFC Personal Trainer feels like every bit a money-grabbing scheme on the unsuspecting exercise fanatic. Filled with annoying sound bytes, pointless minigames and tracking problems, only buy this if you’re a serious exercise fiend and simply can’t do without it. Otherwise run away, fast. You’ll get some exercise from it, and you’ll probably find it more beneficial to your life and sanity.

Pros:

  • Good amount of exercises
  • Erm….nope can’t think of anything I’m afraid.

Cons:

  • Annoying soundbytes and incredibly irritating personalities.
  • Excessive Kinect tracking issues
  • Totally stupid minigames

Score: 5.0/10

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