The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout Review
Developer: Blitz Games
Available On: Xbox 360 (Kinect Only)
Television show The Biggest Loser has experienced phenomenal success, starting out in the USA in 2004 and now running in over 25 counties worldwide. The show centres on overweight contestants, all competing to lose weight and win a cash prize.
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect, like other motion control devices before it, was always going to get fitness games released for it, and The Biggest Loser Ulitmate Workout looks to muscle in on competition such as Ubisoft’s Your Shape Fitness Evolved, EA Sports Active 2 and Majesco’s Zumba Fitness. Does The Biggest Loser stand as a high point in the genre, or is money best invested elsewhere? Read on to find out.
GRAPHICS: Ultimate Workout is actually a pretty good looking game, even down to the projection of your person onto the screen. The menus are suitably colourful in line with the rest of the game. Lumps and bumps are accurately replicated, even the ones you didn’t know about which can actually motivate you even more to go that extra mile.
During workouts you will appear in different colours on screen depending on how well you are doing. Green means you are spot on, orange means you are struggling a little and red means you are just simply not doing it right and blue is used to signify rest. Simple yet effective, the visuals get the job done without fuss.
SOUND: Gentle acoustic music is the order of the day, subtle throughout the menus. Not to suggest that music isn’t important for a fitness game, because the right soundtrack can spur you on that extra mile, but in The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout, the audio emphasis is on the spoken word.
Throughout the game you will get encouragement from your trainer and whilst it’s clear that the attempt is to be motivational, in truth it comes across as rather over the top and, to be honest, a little annoying. During a workout you’ll also be asked how you are doing, with three text options appearing that you literally can use to tailor the experience mid-workout. These are very much Americanised phrases such as “Yeah, I’m feeling it” which just isn’t something most people would ever really say and can be quite off-putting, but the voice recognition is excellent and the in-game trainer will respond to whichever of the phrases you use.
GAMEPLAY: Sadly there are some glaring faults in the The Biggest Loser as a general experience. The menu system is quite poor, mainly because the game does nothing to help you understand what each button does. You have to hover over a button to see what it does, but very quickly that button will be accessed and you’ll be in another menu before you know it!
This UI problem extends to inputting details as well. The entire process behind inputting information like weight, age and date of birth it is extremely fiddly, imprecise and quite frankly, pretty frustrating. It’s something that really does’t need to be that way, as the rest of the game has excellent motion recognition, so it’s a little odd that the UI is so difficult at times. There are also some rather strange anomolies in the body scanning, including the game (rather hilariously) measuring a neck-span of half a metre which you then will have to correct manually, using the aforementioned inprecise and frustrating Kinect controls. On the whole though, the body scan is pretty accurate so that frustration doesn’t last too long.
It’s worth mentioning that The Biggest Loser requires a bit more space than you might be used to with Kinect titles to date, as at times you’ll be required to sit sideways to the screen and do excercises at full stretch. This can result in some poor motion recognition though and it’s hard to decide whether the blame lies with the Kinect sensor or the developers of the title for putting excercises in that are constrained by space.
What this means on a basic level is that at times you might be doing the excercise perfectly well, but on-screen you are being told that you aren’t doing it incorrectly, which can result in failing out of a workout. Again, this can be quite frustrating.
When it works though (which, to be fair is more often than not) the workouts are excellent, accurate and rewarding. Everything can be tailored to suit the experience you want and require. The experience is extremely customisable and even includes dieting help outside of excercising, such as meal ideas and suggested calorie intakes for a day. You can even do questionaires which analyse the results and tell you if you might be at risk to certain future ailments. It’s tricky to know how accurate they are, but they seem decent enough!
The workouts run the gamut from very easy to the more intensive training sessions. Again, you can tailor it to your needs and if you are feeling the burn a little too much you can alter this with the voice command options that pop up from time to time.
Obviously Kinect can’t actually weigh you though, so progress is acknowledged with body tracking, you might not be able to see a figure stating “You have lost 10 pounds” but you will be told how many inches you’ve lost from your waist.
LONGEVITY: Like most excercise games, you will have a fitness regime worked out for you which will include a target of how much weight you would like to use. This means that the game will last you as long as you want it to. Totally reliant on your honesty, if you are lazy, don’t boot the title up and do your workout when you’ve said you will, you won’t lose weight and you will be cheating yourself.
There are various motivational techniques in place, even including the ability to record a video diary and there are some multiplayer modes, though in truth, it’s unlikely you’ll be investing the time or money in this title for it’s multiplayer components. Even after you’ve reached your targets though, there is plenty to do. The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout will last as long as you want it to.
VERDICT: There are already plenty of options out there for fitness games, even in the relatively short life to date of Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect device, but despite a number of UI issues (that could possibly even be addressed with a title update) the actual meat of the game is well executed and will do what it sets out to, if you show the dedication to the workouts that it requires. It might not be as flashy looking as other titles on the market, but The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout is most definitely worth a look.