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Review of UFC Personal Trainer for PS3 Move

UFC Personal Trainer is a title by THQ that’s been released on the Wii, the Xbox 360 with Kinect, and the version we’ll be reviewing today, the Playstation 3 with Move. It’s an intense workout title that uses celebrities from the world of UFC and mixed martial arts to provide training.

Our sister site XboxFitness.Org has a review of UFC Personal Trainer for Kinect. The games are practically identical between both platforms from a functional point of view. You start out by selecting your gender and entering your age, height, and weight. You then select whether you want to use one motion controller or two. A video will appear of a UFC fighter giving you a “pep talk” which sounds a little more like a legal disclaimer: Check with your doctor before exercising, wear the proper gear, stay hydrated, warm up, and get plenty of rest.

After this, you go through a fitness test, where you perform as many sit-ups as you can in one minute (holding the Move controller in your right hand) and then perform as many push-ups as you can in one minute (strapping the Move controller to your leg). I was surprised at how good the motion detection was, although granted I did have to make sure I was in camera range (much easier done on the Playstation than the Kinect version which requires a TON of room).

Next, I had to perform jumping jacks for 1 minute to get my heart rate up. After one minute a timer appeared and had me take my pulse over 15 seconds, from which it calculated my active heartrate.

At this point I was assigned a “fitness level”. As with the Kinect version, I was deemed a “beginner” even though I did a ton of sit-ups and jumping jacks (my guess is it was my inabiliy to do push-ups that kept me at beginner level). This of course was fine with me.

After the test, you’re brought to a menu. The first option is “Workouts”. You can select one of three UFC fighters: Mark Delagrotte, Greg Jackson, and Javier Mendez, to walk you through a set of custom workouts. After watching a video intro of your trainer, you can choose from 20 pre-made workouts per trainer or you can also create and save custom workouts.

Each of the 20 pre-defined workouts that take you through conditioning, working out different parts of the body, and even teaching some MMA techniques. Here’s Mark Delagrotte’s upper body workout:

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that it’s very, very long. Across the board, the workouts spend far too much time with warm-up and cool-down stretches, leaving barely any time for the actual fitness. If you decide to get the game, chances are you’ll need to create custom workouts with one or two stretching exercises instead of overdoing it like they do with the pre-made workouts.

Another thing I noticed is that a lot of the arm exercises would have been much more effective with resistance. Hand weights are obviously out of the question (one area where the Kinect excels), but Resistance Bands designed for use with Wii remotes could certainly be used.

Besides Workouts, you have the following other options:

Quick workouts – these are essentially truncated versions of the full workouts, complete with warm-up, exercises targeted to a specific goal, and then cool-down.

Activities – these are “fun” activities that you can perform with virtual equipment, including heavy punching bags, a speed bag, a heavy tire, and hitting the mitts of your favorite UFC fighter. While the simulation was definitely good and the motion controls accurate, all of the activities were just a little bit off the real thing. And again, because these exercises all use both Move controllers and not the leg strap, any exercise involving the lower body is on the “honor system”. As you can see here, I had some difficulty with the Tire Flip, but finally got it after adjusting my leg strap.

Program – Here, you can choose from different programs to meet certain goals. There’s a strength building program, a weight loss program, and an endurance building program for 30 days or 60 days. When you select a program, you’ll be brought to a calendar where you can see which specific workouts you’ll do on each day during that time.

Multiplayer Games – You can challenge a friend to compete in a workout activity side by side, by taking turns in Hot Seat mode, and online over the Playstation Network. The activities are limited to Tire Flip or Speed Bag for side by side challenges and to Hit the Miitts, Tire Flip, and Speed Bag for Hot Seat mode. For Playstation Network challenges, you’re limited to Hit the Mitts.

Player Tracker – Here’s where you can view all of your statistics and history.

It’s hard not to immediately make comparisons between the Playstation and the Kinect versions. The graphics on the Playstation are clearly superior to the Kinect’s. The live-action videos that appear throughout the game are clearer, and even the cartoony renditions of the UFC fighters are slightly less cartoony on the PS3. Also, certain exercises are much more precise on the Playstation than the Kinect. Anything involving upper body movements and punches is extremely precise on the Playstation, while with the Kinect it’d occasionally miss detecting quick movements. Having said that, I think they could have done a little more precision detection with the Playstation; during punching exercises I’d do a jab when I should have done a hook and vice-versa, but the system would credit me for all of it.

Where the Kinect shines is in full body detection. With the Kinect, during every exercise you see a silhouette image of yourself and the system does a fairly good job of detecting you. With the Playstation, any exercise involving lower-body movement requires you to strap a Move controller to your leg. The motion detection is pretty good, but for certain exercises the system doesn’t bother using motion controls at all–in those cases you’re basically on the “honor system” to do the exercise right.

I gave the Xbox version 4 out of 5 stars. As for the Playstation version, I think it deserves the same 4 out of 5 stars, but for different reasons. The accuracy of upper body controls is clearly superior, but on the other hand, the total lack of full body motion detection and the inability to use hand weights puts it at a disadvantage.

All in all, I found UFC Personal Trainer for PS3 to be a great workout, and like its Kinect counterpart its probably the most intense workout you’ll get with a Playstation fitness game–the “fitness test” alone was exhausting, and even at “beginner” level, I was having a hard time keeping up. If you’re a UFC fan and looking to get fit, you’re going to love the detail of the integration with UFC personalities and environments. If you’re not a UFC fan, it’s a good game if you are looking for an intense workout, perhaps at the expense of optimal use of motion controls or the PS3 Eye Camera. Otherwise, you might want to consider another game like EA Sports Active 2 (the best overall workout program), Get Fit with Mel B (the best cardio workout with innovative use of the PS3 camera), or Fit in Six (best if you’re looking for a huge variety of workouts).

So far, I don’t think any PS3 Fitness game publisher has hit it completely out of the park yet in terms of coming up with a game that’s a ton of fun and while also provides a good workout. It will be interesting to see if THQ’s own miCoach Premium lives up to the hype when it’s released in 2012.

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