Stop me if you've heard this since the advent of motion controlled gaming. With (piece of software) and (piece of motion sensing hardware) together, you'll be able to work out, gain real results, and have fun while doing it. I don't know about you, but my experience with most fitness games was that they provided minimal results, coupled with minimal fun. Whether you were using a thigh strap or a glorified bathroom scale, none of these games held my interest long enough to gain any measurable results.
THQ and the UFC have teamed up to change all that, and wouldn't you believe it, I think they've succeeded. UFC Personal Trainer had me building up a sweat in mere minutes, and I was having a blast doing it. I hesitate to call this preview a hands-on, because being a Kinect title and all, my hands' only role was to make some fists and get punching.
UFC Personal Trainer is not a competition to THQ's Undisputed franchise. In fact, there isn't even a fighting mode in the game. This is simply a fitness system through and through. Made in conjunction with some of the UFC's most successful trainers like Greg Jackson, this game brings you the same exercises and motions that trainers use to train UFC fighters.
When you first start up the game, the software will put you through a fitness test and make recommendations for a regimen for you to stick to. As you work on things like strength and cardio, the game will make suggestions to increase things like the number of reps. There are 71 different exercises in the game, split into three different 30 day programs. The three programs are designed to cut weight, gain strength, and build energy respectively. For those who want an even more intense workout, 60 day programs are also available. The THQ representative we spoke to also told us that weighted accessories for thighs, ankles, and hands would also be available from the UFC's website to supplement the workout. The game will also allow you to make adjustments if you're using weights, and will recalibrate the workout for you automatically based on your previous settings.
After my first workout, I was already sweating and eager to take on my next workout challenge. This is easily the most accurate Kinect game I've played to date in terms of detecting movement. While doing a routine that involved timed punches, kicks, and knees, the system was smart enough to tell the difference between my jabs and roundhouse punches, and scored me appropriately. When exercising, doing the routine properly is essential to proper health and to avoid injury, so it's a great feature that the game can tell you what you're doing right and wrong.
With that in mind, if you have the energy after any given workout to keep going, the game will encourage you up to 33 per cent over. For example, if a workout has you doing 30 sit-ups, you'll be able to go to 40 before the game will tell you to stop. It's a smart system that rewards ambition while avoiding enthusiasm based injuries.
The game features some multiplayer workouts of the hot seat variety as well.
After playing with the game, we had a chance to sit down with Greg Jackson, a Mixed Martial Arts trainer who has trained more champions in the UFC than anyone else. He has been hands on with the title during its two year development, and is very excited for its impending release this summer.
"These are techniques specific to MMA that we're bringing to the video game space for the first time," he said. "It's new, interesting, fun, and it keeps the player accountable. It's very hands on to do and it's as real as it gets."
The game will also be released for the PlayStation Move and the Wii, but will lack the full body tracking that the Kinect version offers. Both the Wii and the Move versions will only be able to track one arm and a leg, or two arms at any given moment. The movements on the other limbs will be on the player to stay honest about.
Gamers will be able to get in shape with the UFC Personal Trainer in June 2011.