Kimberley Ellis
16 Jan, 2011

The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout Review

360 Review | Legwarmers not included.
With the popularity of Wii Fit over on Nintendo's console, it was only a matter of time before we saw the Kinect unit utilised in the same way on the Xbox 360. Plenty of developers have jumped aboard the fitness game craze with titles such as EA Sports Active 2, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and Zumba Fitness already on the market - and a slew of more most certainly on the way. With the fitness gaming market building to a saturation point, is The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout a worthy purchase? We think so, but like all Kinect launch titles it isn't without a few flaws that keep it from being a truly great experience.

Licensed by the TV show of the same name, the game kicks off in a similar way by allowing you to create a short video diary to outline what you hope to accomplish with your new fitness plan. For those that take it a little more serious, it’s a very clever way to welcome you into the game, and to allow you to track your hopes and goals throughout the life of your fitness regime. Straight after the initial video diary, its off to the fitness test to get an accurate measure of your current fitness level.

Those who have dipped spent time with some of the other fitness titles on the market will note that, this aspect of the game is where The Biggest Loser plots a different course. Gone is the video of yourself on screen, in its place is a simple 3D model of your body which is a remarkably accurate template of your body, detecting every curve and bulge in a way that staring at it during the routines might spur you into ramping up your exercise intensity.

Performing the exercises is as simple as following the movements of your on-screen trainer, while checking on your 3D model in the corner to see just how well you’re performing the task. If you’re doing the exercise wrong, you’re given feedback in a number of different ways: a meter below your model shows your exercise speed, with the aim being to stay out of the yellow area and keep it in the green area at all times. Text instructions will also advise you how to quickly correct your stance to complete the exercises well through a number of instructions which pop up on the screen such as “knee higher” or “legs wider”. If you’re completing the exercise well, your model will turn green, staying yellow if you haven’t quite got all the elements down pat yet, or finally red if you’re really off the pace. If any exercise gets too much for you and you want to give up, it’s as simple as stopping your movements and the game will automatically end after that particular exercise is finished. The trainers also ask you questions which is meant to be used to prompt the game into knowing whether you wish to keep going or you wish to stop, but we found these to be very unreliable – at times even yelling the answer back at the television yielded no result.

Lunge like you mean it!

Lunge like you mean it!

Overall, the game picks up your movements considerably well, though those with a small playing space may have some issues to contend with as Ultimate Workout needs a slightly larger playing area than other Kinect titles require. This is due to the significant increase in activity that the game requires as well as the requirement to perform some exercises from the floor or side-on to the Kinect unit – all of which are picked up quite accurately. At times, the game seemed to register particular motions (for example: lunges or boxing uppercuts) and we ended up bending over like a hunchback just to get the game to register our movements – leading to a few aches and pains due to the pretzel imitation that we were making of ourselves. It’s not something which occurs often, but it’s somewhat disappointing when you feel that you had been working out well and the game hasn’t responded properly.

After you’ve completed the fitness test you can step into a body analyser, a scanning program which uses Kinect to measure your body. If you take the time to line yourself up in the correct fashion, the game will be able to give you a reasonably accurate reading (most likely it’ll be out by a few centimetres) which can be manually tweaked afterwards to get a more accurate representation. As you progress through your workout plan, you’ll be able to constantly keep the body analyser scan updated. Even though it cannot weigh you, it will be able to give you an account of how many centimetres you’ve lost.

Once you’ve completed the initial fitness test and body analysing process, the game gives you a readout of your results in order to design a fitness plan which caters to your level of fitness and focuses on the outcomes that you wish to achieve. Ultimately, the fitness plan choice is yours to make, but for those with no idea of what to do for, the program does offer valid suggestions.

Whether you choose to target a specific part of the body with a structured workout or go for an all-around fitness program, the game gives you a number of options to consider regarding the duration of each workout, intensity of workout and length of fitness plan, so whether you want a four-week plan to lose some post-Christmas weight or you want a twelve week program to shape up for the summer, these options are available to you.

As the game is based on the TV show, it follows the same daily and weekly structure, so you won’t be forced to play every day: generally you workout on alternate days, though you can still play any of the exercises on your designated ‘day off’ if you feel like it. Again, just like the show the end of the week will see you take to the scales to see if you are the biggest loser. If facing off the computer isn’t enough for you, the game does give you the opportunity to work out online with up to three friends.

Now Bob has three people that he won't listen to.

Now Bob has three people that he won't listen to.

Aside from the exercise aspect of the title, Ultimate Workout also adds a significant collection of recipes and nutritional information. For those who are really into the entire process, there is also the ability to input your calorie intake and create a daily calorie counter. It’s these little options that require you to navigate a number of screens which highlight the greatest flaw of the game.

As with most Kinect games, Ultimate Workout encompasses a navigation system which requires you to use your hand as a pointer: simply hover over items to read the information and ultimately select the option of your choosing. Unlike most of the current Kinect brethren Ultimate Workout’s navigation system runs a lot faster, with the selection process starting as soon as your cursor touches an option – meaning that by the time you’ve hovered over the option and read its description you’ve already selected it. This then turns the whole menu navigation process into a touch-and-run process as you attempt to flick your hand onto each option just long enough to bring up the text without actually choosing it.
In the grand scheme of things it is a minor gripe to have with the title, but considering that the motion detection is pretty impressive throughout the crux of the title, it’s disappointing to see that the developer wasn’t able to make the menu navigation system less cumbersome.

For those serious about improving fitness and losing a few centimetres, you’re sure of some proper exercise in The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout. Ultimately, the title offers good motion detection across a wide range of workouts and a lot of supplementary material that’s easy to find and utilise for those looking to begin a fitness regime that runs similarly to that of the popular television show. Though, if there’s a couple of fatal flaw that keeps the title from being a truly great fitness game, with the occasional motion detection inaccuracies and the broken menu navigation interface which spoils the ease that the rest of the title provides and ultimately may lead to players not bothering to use the title in the long term.
The Score
For those serious about improving fitness and losing a few centimetres, there is a lot to like about The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout, but ultimately a cumbersome navigation interface and occasional motion detection inaccuracies keep it from being a truly great title.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
3 years ago
Who ate all the pies?
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  18/11/2010 (Confirmed)
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