Three professional trainers walk players through UFC Trainer -- Mark DellaGrotte, Greg Jackson, and Javier Mendez -- and each offers their own fighting style to compliment the workout routines. My experience consisted entirely of DellaGrotte trying his best to teach me a basic MMA workout in his chosen style, Muay Thai. And thankfully, despite showing very little in the way of actual competence at the actions I was being asked to perform, the game remained confident in me.
Despite woefully underdone punches and kicks performed without a thought in the world given to form, UFC Trainer consistently praised my lackluster performance. For a game so purportedly focused on training and exercise, Trainer did little in the way of teaching me about any of the fundamentals -- proper form, breathing, and stretching. Instead, I learned how to approximate my on-screen trainer's image.
Lead designer Troy Sheets noted -- somewhat worryingly -- when asked about said fundamentals, "Not only do we instruct proper form, but we're also covered with multiple injury warnings before and during workouts. As this is a product for the major consoles, our injury warnings have been reviewed by Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and The National Academy of Sports Medicine." Sheets further explained that "All of the programs include complete full body warm-ups and cool downs as directed by NASM. Additionally, in our video segments and loading screen texts we reinforce the importance of proper workouts, including warming up, stretching before and after workouts, and proper hydration."
Unlike Dance Central
, which allows for mistakes but highlights in red the part of your body that's doing something incorrectly, UFC Trainer
simply allows mistakes without correction. It feels gesture-based in this respect. Whereas Dance Central
did a good job of teaching gamers how to pull off dance moves, UFC Trainer
seems to fail, asking little more than a reasonable facsimile of your trainer's actions.
Sheets confirmed the game's gesture-based movement to me, saying, "Our gesture-based recognition system tracks the skeleton of the user," though he couldn't get into specifics because, "the exact methods for determining success or failure of those gestures is protected under the Microsoft developer NDA." He further noted, "Our product isn't intended to be a perfect martial arts instructor, it's intended to help people get fit."
And, somewhat to his point, I believe the game shows promise with more experienced exercise buffs simply looking to supplement their at-home workout. Not only can the game's 70-ish exercises be customized into a personal workout routine, but a fitness test kicks off the game, helping to assure experienced folks that they're not wasting time. Admittedly, it may also just be fun to faux-fight your favorite UFC combatants in the game's "Hit the Mitts" mode -- if that's your kind of thing.
And I have no doubt that one could very well lose weight from playing UFC Trainer
on a regular basis -- one of the demoers, in fact, told me had "lost 20 pounds and probably gained 10 in muscle" since development began -- but I'm also worried that folks playing it without any real exercise experience will end up hurting themselves. Without someone telling you, "Hey, you're overextending your arm and could pull a muscle in your back," what's to stop you from doing just that?
With a June release set in place and a six month delay already under the publisher's belt, I don't expect massive changes in UFC Trainer
when it arrives in stores.