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Product Review: UFC Personal Trainer video game

UFC Personal Trainer: The Ultimate Fitness System is the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first foray into motion sensory video games.

Like the UFC Undisputed series the game was developed by THQ, but unlike the Undisputed series, this is not really a “game” in the traditional sense of the word. It is more of a workout system with some game-like characteristics.

The game is available for the Playstation Move, Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360 Kinect. The game I played and will be reviewing here is for the Kinect.

The Set-Up

The game requires quite a bit of space. I had to rearrange my bedroom to make enough room to play the game. You need enough room to lay down flat in front of your television set without any peripheral interference from chairs, bed posts, etc.

Also, before you start the actual workouts, you have to go through a personal fitness evaluation. You enter in your personal info such as age, height and weight, and then perform a series of exercises to see how many jumping jacks, sit-ups and push-ups you can do in one minute.

Then you are shown how to check your active heart rate. Once all this information is collected, it is determined if you are considered a beginner, intermediate or expert in your fitness level.

Once your fitness level is determined then you get to choose which well-known MMA trainer you want to work with, and each trainer seems to have their own particular set of workouts they specialize in.

The trainer I chose to start with was Mark Dellagrotte. There’s nothing quite like having Coach Dellagrotte in that thick Boston accent  tell you how good your combos are looking. For die-hard UFC fans, being able to workout under the virtual tutelage of coaches like Mark Dellagrotte or Greg Jackson is probably the best part of UFC Personal Trainer.

Time to Work

At this point you have the option of going through a full workout or focus on specific activities like hitting mitts, flipping tires, hitting the heavy bag or hitting the speed bag.

Myself, I wanted to get right to the MMA stuff, so I wanted to work with Coach Dellagrotte on striking in the Activities section. I hit mitts and hit the heavy bag quite a bit, using all types of punches, knees, kicks and elbows.

One complaint I have is the game seems to make quite a few assumptions, such as how to throw a proper hook, jab and cross. You are never really told how you should stand or how or where to hold your hands. Basically, if you even remotely do it right, that is good enough for the game.

Of course, there are certain things that are just not going to be the same when you are working with a game compared to a real trainer. The feedback you get from the coach in the game is very generic. Proper technique is not emphasized whatsoever.

In addition to specific activities such as hitting the mitts or bags, you can go through pre-made workout regimens designed for the upper and lower body. These involve a combination of striking exercises as well as numerous body weight exercises such as squats, lunges and  mountain-climbers, to name just a few.

The exercises range from easy to intense depending on what kind of shape you are in. Coach Dellagrotte had me working up a nice sweat in one of the pre-made upper body workouts. And you can also design your own workout programs.

It should be noted, this game will not teach you how to be an MMA fighter. It is about 98% fitness and about 2% martial arts. I would estimate UFC Personal Trainer has about as much MMA technique in it as a Tae-Bo workout, to be honest. I guess that is why it is called “The Ultimate Fitness System” and not “The Ultimate Fighting System”.

Aside from the striking techniques, there are a lot of great exercises in UFC Personal Trainer that I’m sure are used by many UFC fighters. If a person used this and followed the programs within, they might actually start to look like some of the UFC fighters, but they will not be a fighter and they certainly won’t be a martial artist.

The Verdict

How can you have a UFC game with NO SPARRING? The game does have multiplayer, but all it amounts to is basically working out with a friend. I want a UFC game I can spar with Wanderlei Silva! Now that would be fun.

And by the way, there is no grappling at all. I’m not sure how you could incorporate grappling into the Kinect, but that is not my problem. A game called “UFC Personal Trainer” in my opinion should have some type of grappling. Otherwise, why not call it “Muay Thai Personal Trainer”?

In closing, if you like a little UFC flavor with your workout then you could probably have some fun with this. Would a serious MMA fighter use this to train for a fight? Not a chance.

Final Scores for UFC Personal Trainer:

  • Fun Factor: 4
  • Keep you in Shape: 7
  • Learn MMA: 2
  • Novelty Factor: 7
  • Kinect Performance: 6
  • Re-Playability: 4
  • Overall Score: 5

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