Using the Kinect to get yourself off the couch and moving has been incredible at making us look at new ways that we can interact with games and with our consoles, and the movement in to fitness specific titles was on obvious jump as soon as the technology made it to the market. Over the life of the Kinect so far there have been plenty of titles in this new genre, and Nike+ Kinect Training is one of the latest titles that is really going to push you to get fit without leaving your lounge room. I decided that with my own new year’s resolution to get fitter this would be the perfect time to really put this game through its paces!
The game is pretty basic in how it’s structured – you either sign yourself up for a 4 week long program, or you can jump in and do some quick workouts of your own. The 4 week program will let you set a specific goal such as getting lean or getting strong, and then will put you to work. Then you can review your training results and progress in the Nike+ website. All in all it’s a very straight forward type of game, but for me it was when I really got down to the exercise day in, day out with this title that it’s differences came forward.
The first thing you’ll do when you start a program here is do an assessment. The game will see how well you can do certain activities and give you a “Fuel Score” (one of the many Nike specific terms you’ll find throughout this one). Once this is done you tell the game how often you want to work out and then it will generate a schedule for you – mine was two cardio sessions and one strength session each week – and then you get in to the work. The game will give you tutorial style walkthroughs of each activity the first time it throws one at you and then you get to do it yourself, following what the trainer on the screen does while they throw some generically motivational statements at you.
Once you get through the first week or so and you have started to get the hang of things, you will find that the activities that the game throws at you will really start to string together one after the other quite quickly – I found this to be a benefit for me in that when I have used other fitness games on the Kinect there would sometimes be big loading times or even the need to use a menu to move between activities. They have even worked it in to show you tutorials during a break period if you are in one to make sure you don’t get sluggish and spend too long resting between exercises. After a few workouts it does become very obvious that there has been a decent enough amount of thought go in to keeping you active to get more out of each workout.
The selection of exercises that are in the game is also pretty well thought out. When you jump in for a cardio workout at the start of your week you will get a set of exercises that will more than likely be different from what you get doing a second cardio run that week. You also have the ability to download additional workout packs from the Xbox Live Marketplace that can add to this as well – and the great part here is that you don’t need to restart your program or anything if you download new exercises, they will just start appearing in your scheduled routines as you continue along.
At the end of each workout you will get some stats about the exercises you did, as well as a ‘Nike Fuel’ score which is a generic way comparing yourself to others across all of the Nike+ range. The game will also store your personal bests for each activity as well so when you come back it can let you know when you beat your best results as well.
Graphically this game isn’t anything special. You’ll find a handful of locations the game will set you up to workout in, and the design of the trainers isn’t anything spectacular either. That being said if you are serious about getting fit then this won’t likely phase you. The audio is fairly generic as well, lots up high tempo tunes to get you pumped up while you work. They did do a good job with the amount of recorded voice from the trainers that is included in the game. From the second you start a workout you won’t need to read a single word from the screen, they will call out what you should be doing and how to change your form to get a better result from a specific activity.
The games use of Kinect is one of the better implementations in the fitness genre from those I’ve played. The tracking is pretty accurate and how it interprets your actions to be able to tell you how to change your form slightly is also pretty well done. For example, if you’re doing a set of squats it will pick up if you don’t keen your knees over your toes. It does an alright job of tracking activities that require you to be on the floor as well, which is another area that I have found lacking in other fitness titles. If there are times that you are having trouble being tracked though the game will allow you to disable the tracking for a specific activity – it will give you an average score for it and just assume you have done it correctly, then will turn back on for the next activity you do.
The game also has a system of voice commands which will allow you to interact with the game by talking to it during a workout and through the menus. I personally found this to be a little flaky in that I would let out some grunts or the occasional swear word (by accident of course!) and it would assume I have said something else and then do something like disable tracking, or skip an exercise – but luckily there is an option in the main menu to disable these if you have similar issues.
The biggest issue I came across with this game in regards to its use of the Kinect though was the amount of space it requires in your lounge room. There are some exercises that it will require you to be at least 3m back from the sensor for it to track you accurately, which can be a bit of a tight fit without having to move furniture around in a lot of cases and is something to consider if you are thinking about buying this game. The majority of the exercises had me around the middle of my lounge room, which is around 2m away from the screen, and they worked pretty well (although on the jumping activities I have hit my head on the roof – that’s slightly more difficult to do something about though!)
The game will sync your workout data to the Nike+ website after each workout, which will allow you to log in and review what you have done. This allows you to extend things a little further in that you are able to add friends to your list and compare your workout scores to them. This is a great way to add some competition and motivation to your workouts as you try to keep ahead of your friends. There are also phone apps that will let you perform many of the functions from the website as well (including a Windows Phone app as well as iOS and Android).
All in all this is definitely one of the better fitness titles I’ve been able to play on the Kinect, and I say that because it really will push you physically while using its social features and data tracking to help keep you motivated and coming back for more. I’ve been using the game for 4 weeks now and have just completed my second fitness assessment, and it was great to see the numbers jump up across the board. I definitely feel fitter as well – there hasn’t been any drastic transformation or anything, but enough for me to notice a change. So if you’re looking for a casual fitness game that looks pretty, best steer clear of this one. But if you want a title that will stick to longer term and that will push you to really work hard, this game is a solid investment.