There's loads of fitness games out there in the big wide world, but until now I hadn't came across one that only focused on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). As someone who knows next to nothing about UFC, I picked up this game in the hope of recreating my beloved Combat classes at the gym.
When you first launch the game, you are asked to input some basic info. such as your age, weight and height - this is used to calculate the calories burned which shows up at the end of each activity.
You're then asked to complete a fitness test in order to access your fitness level and the ideal level of intensity to play the game on. This consists of some basic exercise drills such as jumping jacks, push-ups and sit-ups. The game then asks you to take your pulse and record the number of beats to measure your heart rate. I think what would have been better here is to allow the option of recording your heart rate as measured by a separate heart rate monitor (or even better, an included one, like EA Active Sports 2's!).
It was here, at the end of this test, where it emerged that it was not for anyone new to exercise! I'm reasonably fit and take part in MMA once or twice a week, but even I was graded at beginner level! The advantage of this is that the game is fantastic for anyone who is physically fit and wants a challenging program on a games console as many in the market are targeted at beginners.
The game gives you the option to use weights and resistance bands or carry on without, this too means the option of upping the difficulty of the game for advance players.
In the main menu there are a number of options. You can select a pre-made workout, play on of the activities such as punching the mits and my personal favourite, kicking and punching the life out of a punch bag. There's also the option to enrol on a workout program focused around your personal goal, whether that's to lose weight or gain strength. There are a lot of achievements and rewards to keep you motivated throughout your chosen workout program, which is always a bonus!
The-pre made workouts are a bit of a let down, personally, I don't feel the warm-ups are sufficient, by warm-up, I'm referring to arm circles for a few minutes. It's not really enough to prime you for a solid workout, and of course, this increases your risk of injury! The workout following that will get your heart rate up and burn quite a few calories. There's a range of different MMA based activities and a few others thrown in to get your heart rate up, such as sit ups and mountain climbers.
On screen, there's very little to look at except for your personal trainer, who is repetitive to say the least. They're modelled on real UFC fighters (not that I'd know one if I saw one!) but they all seem to say the same things and often repeat lines within a few seconds... which at least helped to build up my aggression. I do realise that is to re-create the UFC training room feel, but lets face it, the gym is more vibrant than a dark picture on my TV screen!
In terms of the controls, these are slightly buggy on the Kinect version I tested. Some of my ground work (like sit-ups and push-ups) aren't picked up very well by the sensor, with reps going uncounted. I also felt rather frustrated when my punches weren't picked up, at which point the PT then tells me I can do better! No THQ, you can do better! I've also had issues where a particular stretch has almost accidentally paused the game (which can be prevented if you catch it in time). It's a game that works best with a lot of room (which I do not have) so perhaps the ground work issues will not be a problem for players with larger play space. Also, make sure you're far enough away from the TV to avoid roundhouse kicking it!
For PS3 players, the move controls appear exactly the same on the screen but apparently these can be quite temperamental too. For some activities, you'll need to wear a leg strap, so it is advisable to play in shorts to stop the strap slipping down (an issue I had a lot with EA Active Sports on the Wii!).
Overall, I have mixed feelings on this game. The idea of it is fantastic, but the execution of it is pretty poor. The visuals are less than exciting (though I didn't expect 'pretty' from UFC), the scripts of the personal trainers are repetitive and the controls are a bit buggy. Perhaps if you have a large space to play it and like the minimalist look you will enjoy it a lot more than I did. At least it did a good job of getting my heart rate up and making me sweat!