IGN Review of Biggest Loser
The general populace of the United States has proved that it likes to watch obese people suffer as they push themselves to lose weight, but now it's time for gamers to get off the couch and show that they're willing to make the same commitment themselves. The Biggest Loser exergame title is based on the popular reality television show on NBC, which features obese contestants competing to lose the most weight. Players can partake in 4-12 week programs that resemble the process that show contestants undergo, or they can simply use the game to practice individual workouts, gain fitness and lifestyle tips, and find recipes for healthier eating. While The Biggest Loser may not have the hype and budget that other recent fitness games have had to back them up, this underdog title makes as much of an effort as the show's chubby contestants, offering as much as the competition in terms of workout options and difficulty customization.
Users choose which of the show's hosts they want to be their personal trainer, selecting either Bob Harper (not to be mistaken with EA Sports Active host and Oprah's personal trainer Bob Greene) or Jillian Michaels. Michaels is a well-known figure in the fitness game genre, having a popular title of her own -- Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009 -- on shelves and a 2010 version on the way. Though you may prefer a trainer of the same sex as you, it all comes down to who you want to look at and listen to through the duration of your exercise routines. You'll also select a player to represent you from a list of contestants on previous seasons of the show, but the choice doesn't really impact the gameplay experience at all.
Individual workouts are divided into five different target areas: full body, upper body, core, lower body, and yoga. Players get to select their preferred difficulty level for their workout, and The Biggest Loser has one of the biggest difficulty ranges of any fitness game yet -- offering five different settings, including light, moderate, challenging, hard, and intense. This impressive range is what really makes The Biggest Loser stand out. Within each of these difficulties there are a number of different length options, ranging from short and sweet 10-20 minute workouts to intense routines that go up to an intimidating 70 minutes. While I can do EA Sports Active on the highest difficulty without trouble, the prospect of a 70 minute intense core workout from The Biggest Loser was nerve-racking, if not terrifying.
Like recent fitness offerings such as Wii Fit Plus and EA Sports Active, The Biggest Loser offers players the chance to create and save custom workouts, so they can avoid exercises they dislike. You can also choose to begin a 4, 8, or 12 week training program that provides set workouts, tracks your calorie intake, and helps you select a weight loss goal. The program requires a regular time commitment, not just for exercise, but also for estimating and imputing calorie consumption, so only dedicated players should begin the program. This mode most closely follows the format of The Biggest Loser television show, and it's also very similar to the EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge where players are tasked with completing 20 set workouts in 30 days as well as filling out a daily journal about their diet, activity level, and lifestyle choices. Within the training program there are three major difficulty options -- beginner, intermediate, and expert -- but there are several training levels within each of these options, so just like the individual workouts, there's a lot of room to customize the program based on your current fitness level.
The controls are occasionally inconsistent -- an issue that seems to be the standard fare for fitness games. Even EA Sports Active, largely considered to be one of the highest quality, most polished fitness games available, sometimes fails to accurately record the user's movements. Users with a background in the exercises they're performing, either from videos or real life training classes at the gym, will probably want to rely on their expertise when the motion tracking seems off. Though there are up to five possible points for each exercise, these scores don't actually mean much. It's just as likely that the score is low because of movement tracking errors than that the player was holding back or not performing the exercises correctly. Remember: you know how hard you've been working better than the Wii does.
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