When I received The Biggest Loser – Ultimate Workout to review I didn’t know whether or not to take offense. I mean, I’ve been trying to watch my weight, though a summer of chocolate ice cream and BBQs probably hasn’t done me much good. Even so, nothing says “you’re getting overweight” like a gift in the form of an exercise video game, so I’d just like to take this opportunity to thanks Brash Games; you’ve made me self-conscious and uneasy about my weight. On the plus side (or should that be plus size), I have lost a lot of pounds (lbs), and I’ve only had it a week, so that’s really quite good. Maybe mum was right when she said “Dex, you need to exercise!” There was me, thinking she made that up!
So The Biggest Loser – Ultimate Workout is based on the popular American TV show, so where does that leave Europeans? Well, it doesn’t – an exercise is multilingual, international, and widely recognised across the world as strenuous, hard work, and taxing on the body. If I’m honest, The Biggest Loser is home to some really vigorous workouts if you’re up to the challenge, and there’s plenty to go at in the way of features – you can connect online to see other people losing weight and find a gym buddy of sorts, because after all, losing weight is easier when there’s other people doing it with you.
Recipes make an appearance to help you control your calorie intake as an added feature too, although I’m not oversold on this idea, as there are so many ways to diet these days – what if you’re limiting your carbs, or you prefer to eat little and often? Maybe the game should have stuck to the plan, because there’s a few shoddy mistakes in this title that sometimes make navigating the menus and playing the game a bigger chore than actually doing the exercises!
Navigation is poor, and you spend a lot of your time in the menus customising your workout. While the customisation itself is brilliant – add weights to your workout, change the location, the trainer, the time, the exercises, the workouts you want to improve the areas you want, you name it, you can tweak it – getting to be able to actually change these settings is a nightmare, through no fault of the Kinect, either. Maybe it’s the fact that the software doesn’t respond well to your hand movements, making your hand cursor move either too slow or too fast, or maybe it’s down to the damn right irritating fact that you cannot hover over an option to see the description – because when you hover over a button, it selects it too fast, so you cannot possibly know for sure what exercise you’re doing or what options you have chosen because you don’t get the time to read about them before selecting.
To me, this is somewhat of a massive let down, making the whole game feel rushed out. Kinect is a superb new piece of technology, but if I had played The Biggest Loser first, then I would have pinned the blame on Microsoft for this inaccurate venture of a game.
From an exercise point of view, there are many workouts to go at, from gentle Yoga to tireless Kick Boxing cardio style workouts – and depending on why you’re here, to build muscles, tone up, lose weight, depends on the kind of exercises your trainer will have you doing. When you get into the routines it’s easy to lose yourself, and the encouraging words of your trainer can be an inspiration during the tougher sequences. Something I did like was the fact that you could actually talk back to your trainer if you needed to – he or she will quite regally ask you questions such as “Are you doing ok?” and you can reply with your voice – asking them to slow down, speed up, or stop for a water break. This can be quite handy and it adds a more personal level to your virtual trainer.
In a big room there’s no problems with the Kinect tracking your exercises. I have seen other people having lots of problems with this, but for me, the Kinect saw every movement I did, and my trainer corrected me if I was doing it wrong. If you’re really feeling serious about exercising, you can invest in a Yoga ball and weights and move on to exercises that incorporate these as well. With a pair of weights, I worked out for 20 minutes, burnt 120 calories and really felt the burn. I genuinely believe that if I kept this up I could be muscle bound and trim in no time at all.
The Biggest Loser – Ultimate Workout is really a mixed bag of great routines and encouraging workouts, let down by its dismal unresponsive menu system – it’s one of my only gripes, but when it takes you nearly as much time to select an exercise as it does to actually exercise one has to ask themselves if they’d rather waste time, or just toss the game to one side and go for a good old fashioned run. If you persevere past the menus then you can expect serious results and some great exercises, but with so many other exercise games out there for Kinect already, I’m sure there’s a better overall experience to be had elsewhere.
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