UFC Personal Trainer Review (X360, Kinect)

UFC Trainer box
UFC Trainer box. THQ

The latest exercise game to hit Kinect is UFC Personal Trainer from THQ. No, it doesn't actually train you to be a UFC fighter, but it does attempt to teach you to work out like one. In terms of presentation, motivation, activities, and training routines, UFC Personal Trainer is pretty easily the best workout game on Kinect. There are still a couple of sensor-related hiccups, but overall it works really well and will definitely get you to work up a sweat.

Find out all of the details right here.

Game Details

  • Kinect Sensor Required
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
  • ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Fitness
  • Pros: Solid workout game with lots to do; nice, consistent presentation; makes good use of UFC license
  • Cons: Kinect struggles to see you on the floor; needs more space than most Kinect games

UFC Personal Trainer is one of the smarter and well thought out exercise games around. With support from the National Academy of Sports Medicine along with the know-how of UFC fighters and trainers, it provides the best, safest workout currently available on the Xbox 360 and Kinect. Workouts actually focus on stretching along with warmup / cooldown periods - important so you don't injure yourself. It offers a multitude of different workout levels to match your fitness level and also lets you gradually work your way up to more intense workouts or even use weights in many exercises when you are ready for it.

The idea behind the game is that it guides you through carefully planned and safe workouts. There are several different pre-set workout routines for endurance, cutting weight, and strength training coached by real UFC trainers Mark DellaGrotte, Greg Jackson, and Javier Mendez. You can also make up your own routines if you want.

And you can track your progress through 30 and 60-day workout programs.

It has to be repeated, though, that this is not a UFC fighting training game. You won't learn how to fight. It is an exercise game, so keep your expectations in check all you wanna-be mixed martial artists.

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Motivation

Motivation is key when working out, and UFC Personal Trainer does a good job. You work with these real trainers that offer feedback as you work out (though their comments do tend to repeat) or you'll work with one of 19 UFC fighters that you can choose from. The exercises you do in the game also keep you motivated because they are actually fun. Punching and kicking and moving around is just plain more fun than most of the tired and stuffy traditional exercise programs out there.

In addition to the normal workout routine stuff - stretching, cardio, etc. - there are some mini-games that let you work out a little bit of frustration, UFC-style. You can hit the mitts in increasingly complicated patterns of jabs, crosses, and more. You can hit the heavy bag. You can hit the speed bag. And you can flip tires (how else do you think Brock Lesnar got so big?).

The meat of the game is definitely the pre-set workouts, but these extra activities add some fun.

Gameplay

Actually "playing" UFC Personal Trainer is pretty straightforward. It is an exercise game. Your trainer shows you something onscreen, and you copy it. Kinect does a fairly good job of tracking you, but isn't always perfect which can affect the score you get at the end of activities. Just like my advice in my Your Shape: Fitness Evolved review, don't worry about high scores, just focus on doing the workouts and having fun.

Kinect does pose a couple of other problems, however. First, the game requires more room than the normal 6-8 foot space that Kinect games normally do.

Doing push-ups the way the game wants you to - perpendicular with the TV - requires you to get pretty far back so the sensor actually sees you. This is kind of a big deal since a lot of folks already struggle to find enough room to use Kinect in. Secondly, you do quite a few exercises on the floor, and Kinect just doesn't see the floor very well. The game has a little outline of your body in the bottom right corner of the screen so you can see what you're doing and how well the sensor sees you. When its green, you're good. Doing sit ups and push ups on the floor, however, resulted in my outline not even being on the screen at all. Even when I repositioned and re-calibrated Kinect to see me on the floor, it just doesn't recognize movement down low very well. Then, of course, I had to move and re-calibrate again for the standing up exercises. After a while, I started cheating and just did the floor exercises on my couch where Kinect could see me better. It did work, and it was comfy, but I'm sure it screws up the workout a bit doing sit-ups on a springy cushion. Getting higher up definitely does help the recognition problems, though.

Everything else the game asks you to do - punches and kicks and pretty much everything standing up - are recognized just fine.

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Presentation

The presentation is a definite strong point here. Your training takes place in a UFC gym. The trainers and UFC fighters you work with are nicely modeled and look just like their real-world counterparts.

There are also some video clips of your trainers (and Octagon Girl Rachelle Leah) that are nice and crisp HD videos and not heavily compressed and terrible looking like the clips in many games. The menus also are easy to navigate and work well.

The sound is also noteworthy thanks to some decent workout music that helps keep you pumped up and some solid voice work from your trainers. The trainers do repeat themselves fairly often, but it works. The sound effects are also nice. Hitting the mitts or heavy bag has a nice satisfying "thwop" when your air punches hit the pretend mitts in the game, which is nice.

Bottom Line

UFC Personal Trainer is a great exercise game that currently is the best workout you'll get with Kinect. It offers a ton of stuff to do in well planned out routines that are both safe and effective. It should also be noted that this isn't a game only for UFC fans. The UFC branding is everywhere, sure, and fans will appreciate the real trainers and fighters and stuff, but it is a solid exercise game first and foremost so don't be scared off by the license if you're not a fan. All in all, if you're looking for an exercise game for your Kinect, UFC Personal Trainer provides a great workout and is definitely worth picking up.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

Buy UFC Personal Trainer at Amazon.com

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