UFC Personal Trainer

Mixed martial arts is one of the manliest activities, and UFC Personal Trainer tries to capture the vibe of sweat-soaked knuckles and pumping iron. Workouts are demanding, and are pretty much guaranteed to raise a sweat whatever your fitness level.

The best way to play is with a profile, where you can input your details, take a fitness test to assess your level, and track your progress. The test is fairly short and it puts you into one of three categories. If you're in the beginner level the exercises in the main game are usually shorter, and you can only get a bronze award for finishing them. If you're intermediate you can only get silver medals, and for advanced you only get gold.

There's a lot to do, with screen after screen of awards to collect in the Player Tracker section. This means there's easily three months of varied and challenging workouts to tackle, even if you use it daily.

Trainer-based workouts with three UFC practitioners last around 15 to 20 minutes for a set routine. Or you can design a custom routine to help you focus on specific exercises. Quick workouts are shorter, perhaps as little as 10 to 12 minutes each depending on your speed and the difficulty level you're playing at. One thing I liked is that you can speed through the routines faster by putting more effort in, and there's an incentive to do this because if you go too slow or make too many mistakes you'll run out of time and fail the exercise.

The Activities are amongst the shortest routines of all. They include sparring with various fighters, speed bag, free striking, and doing tire flips which are really good for thigh strength. There are also lots and lots of videos to unlock and watch in this section.

The longest workouts are often found in the Programs, where you can set up a 30 or 60 day fitness program around a specific goal. These may only last between 20 and 25 minutes, which doesn't seem that much until you're actually doing them. This is one of the most intensively physical fitness games I've played in over seven years of active gaming. It does the job.

The graphics are very good, so good in fact that the trainer's clothes move round realistically with gravity and appear to rustle in the breeze. This realism makes it very clear what moves you're meant to be doing, but this level of detail is overkill. Especially when you consider how often UFC Personal Trainer crashes. In my experience this was about one time in seven. I strongly suspect that the more activities you load onto a custom workout the more likely it is to crash, but often there's no rhyme or reason to its failures. It's a serious bug. The developers should have spent more time fixing stability issues and less on fancy graphics.

Other niggles are the fact that all the warm-ups and cool-downs are identical, and one of the trainers talks as though he assumes all players will be male. However they're minor points that didn't have much impact on my enjoyment of this game. It's the crashes that stop me from recommending it highly. It's a serious fitness title with a lot of variety and definite bum-shaping potential. Six times out of seven it's compelling, well executed and a very satisfying way to shed pounds.

3 star rating

Review Ros Jackson