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UFC Personal Trainer Hands-On Preview

Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Interactive Exercise, MMA Fighting
 
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Fitness games are a relatively new addition to the video game world. ‘Wii Fit’ arrived on the scene in 2007 with a bang and sold millions of copies. Two years later, EA Sports Active was released and also sold a glut of copies. Unfortunately, since 2009 the fitness game genre has been in a steady decline and many fitness games have fallen flat on their face. So when I heard THQ was releasing a fitness game titled ‘UFC Personal Trainer’, I have admit, I was not all that excited, yet I still remained optimistic as THQ’s UFC video game franchise is as good as it gets and has essentially run EA Sports MMA game right out of town. Besides, I have yet to sink my teeth into a fitness game featuring exercises from the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Well last week in San Francisco, I had a chance to step onto some UFC mats and give the THQ’s UFC Personal Trainer for the Kinect a spin. At the end of the demo, well let's just say I was impressed.

Before I get into some of my impressions of the game, I will just provide a brief overview of what this fitness game has to offer. First and foremost, UFC Personal Trainer is considered a spin-off of THQ's mixed martial arts fighter UFC Undisputed. UFC Personal Trainer offers fitness routines designed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. The fitness routines also feature input from world-renowned MMA trainers like Mark DellaGrotte, Greg Jackson, and Javier Mendez. Anyone who follows the UFC closely will know who those trainers are as they have trained the likes of current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, current UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir. Needless to say, this game was not thrown together by a few MMA bar room brawlers. This game is brings a level of authenticity to the entire experience.

UFC Personal Trainer has more than 70 different exercises designed to improve strength, endurance, and conditioning. The game also includes 51 prebuilt exercise routines, and users can create their own custom regimens from a selection of 12 exercises. The Xbox 360 Kinect version of the game, which I had a chance to play, even factors in voice-command technology. The Kinect edition of the game will also include nine exclusive workout routines.

So how does UFC Personal Trainer for the Kinect play? Well quite magnificently. When we first fired up the game, one of the games developers shouted some voice commands, which immediately prompted the Kinect to scan my body, and off I went into a pre-determined fitness routine. It was one of the easier routines but it was challenge nonetheless. I skipped the fitness test, which everyone must endure before they start a game, in the interest of time and jumped right into an MMA exercise routine.

The routine I had a chance to play was only about 5-minutes long. In fact, most of the exercises appear to be short in length, but they do progress the more routines you sweat your way through. Once you select your trainer, whether it is a UFC fighter or actual UFC trainer, you are ready to go. At first the routines involve simple jabs and punches. You follow the trainer’s commands and punch into the virtual hand punching pads. It works quite well and his verbal commands are very encouraging. The routine then progresses into some kicks, knee shots, hooks, uppercuts and ducking. I noticed a slight delay from my actual punches and kicks to the Kinect detecting my motions, but much of this is chalked-up to the hardware and limitations of the Kinect. Nevertheless, I was stunned with how accurate it read my MMA moves. Not to mention I was building up quite the sweat as I was trying to keep up with Dan Hardy’s commands. The experience was quite fun as I was reliving some of my old Karate days from when I was in the sport as a teenager oh so many years ago. I was also having quite a bit of fun as well.

One thing that really stood out for me when I played the game was slick looking visuals. Far too often, fitness games seem to be a tad weak in the graphics department. Actually that is understatement as the graphics in many fitness games downright suck. UFC Personal Trainer is quite the opposite. For starters, the UFC fighters and trainers who are your fitness instructors in the game look very similar to their real-life counterparts. Dan Hardy features his trademark Mohawk and Greg Jackson looked exactly like the guy who was standing next to me while I demo'd the game. Yes, UFC trainer Greg Jackson was there to speak to us about his involvement in the game, which was very cool. After listening to what he said I found that he was a smart and articulate guy who had nothing but positive things to say about the game and the sport.

Needless to say, I was impressed with the games visuals and the way the UFC brand was well represented. The way your trainer moves when he shows you a strike, knee, kick or ‘ground and pound’ is very well done. Everything from the UFC octagon, to the mats, gloves and even the fighter’s shorts are exactly as they are in THQ’s UFC video game. Keep in mind; I only had a small glimpse of the game, so I am really curious to see how the rest of the game will look when it is released.

I was also impressed with the games sound. UFC Personal Trainer is an authentic experience as the fighters and trainers all lend their voice to the game. They sound exactly as they do in real-life and it just makes the experience so much more authentic and real-to-life. Their voices are clear and their instructions are to the point. The trainers encourage and motivate you as you perform the various moves. It is well done indeed.

Overall, UFC Personal Trainer has all the makings to be a hit with UFC and MMA fans. Heck, even if you are not a fan of the sport, UFC Personal Trainer is a great way to get in shape. I also see the benefits for those looking to get into the sport without having to pay the high costs that typically go along with a membership in a Martial Arts club. Not to mention you won't break your nose playing the game. UFC Personal Trainer is truly a perfect way to get into the sport, get in shape and ultimately determines if Mixed Martial Arts is for you. In any event, I was impressed with the brief time I spent playing the game and I am looking forward to its June 2011 release.








 
 

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