Need a Playstation console (or an extra one?) Best Buy’s “Deal of the Day” has a
PlayStation 3 Refurbished Console (250GB) for only $179.99 with free shipping. That’s cheaper than a Wii and most standalone Blu-Ray players!
It’s a great opportunity to get an extra console to put in your home gym, or maybe ti hook up to that old non-digital TV you still have sitting around. But hurry, these will be going fast.
NewEgg has had a number of great deals on pre-orders of fitness video games lately. This one is no exception.
Just Dance 3 is one of the most anticipated games coming out in the Fall. Just Dance and Just Dance 2 for the Wii were the first games to teach real dance moves to real songs, rather than the old style of pattern-matching games where you stomp your feet or wave your arms. Both sold out quickly at their full price when they were released for the Wii, and you can expect the same to happy to Just Dance 3.
Ubisoft is doing something very smart by launching it on Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 simultaneously. What this means is regardless of what system your family or friends have, you’ll be able to practice dancing on your own system and take those dance moves anywhere.
3D television has been out for some time now. How well is it doing? Well, let’s put it this way. How many of your friends have purchased a 3D TV so far?
Of course, most people are holding off. Why?
Most people just spent a ton of money on a huge LCD (or plasma or LED) TV that’s the centerpiece of their living room, and are in no rush to spend another couple of thousands of dollars to replace it.
There just isn’t much content out there. Yes, my cable company lets me subscribe to a package to watch sports in 3D–if I subscribe to their top tier package for over $1000/year.
The technology is awkward for multiple people viewing. To get a good picture, everyone in the family need to squeeze into a tiny section in the middle of the living room sofa. Oh, and make sure everyone has their 3D glasses at another seventy bucks a pop.
The technology is early. Just today, they announced that several manufacturers are getting together to decide on standards for 3D glasses. It may be a few years before they all agree on something!
Sony has been releasing Playstation games with 3D capability for some time now. By all accounts, gameplay in 3D is phenomenal. Imagine facing down a fastball in The Fight: Lights Out or reaching in to beat up bullies in The Fight: Lights Out. But unless you have a lot of disposable income you don’t know what to do with (and who does these days), chances are you’ve though to yourself that you’ll live with the 2D version for now until 3D becomes a lot more affordable.
I’m really bullish on the concept of 3D TV. But it’s never going to achieve critical mass if no one can afford it. This is why I love an idea Sony has come up with for Christmas 2011.
This fall, Sony will be selling a 24 inch 3D LED TV Bundle for Playstation for $499.99 (Amazon lists the release date as December 31 2011 as of this writing , but the actual release date will be around 11/26/11, plenty of time for Christmas if you pre-order). While that’s still pricey, it’s definitely more affordable than larger TVs for people who want a “taste” of 3D gameplay (and television–you’ll be able to watch 3D Blu-Ray movies right from your PS3, as well as any 3D channels your cable package might have).
The package will come with:
One pair of 3D glasses (retail value $70)
One HDMI cable (retail value $10)
A copy of Motorstorm:Apolcalypse (retail value $60).
Originally Sony promised they would bundle the superior Resistance 3, but they have since reversed this (Can anyone say ”OtherOS”? Oh Sony…Sony…Sony…) FLASH! Amazon has just announced that they WILL be bundling Resistance 3 in for customers who pre-order the bundle, following a similar move by GameStop. So place that order today!
But still, this package is a deal and a half. In short, with all the stuff you get in the bundle, your cost for the TV ends up being about $350 and change. And this is no second-rate TV; it features an LED display, with high contrast (5000:1), wide viewing angle (176 degree), high response time (4ms GTG average). And of course, it supports both 2D and 3D viewing. Something unique to the Playstation and this TV will be “SimulView”, where two players playing on the same TV and wearing glasses can view separate (2D) screens (instead of putting up with tiny split screens).
I imagine that Sony’s margins are paper-thin on this one, but that they’re gambling that once you experience 3D, you’ll want to spend money on things like more games, movies, and bigger TVs. It’s sort of the strategy they used by bundling the Blu-Ray disc player into the Playstation–it cost them a lot more, but their prize at the end of the day was Blu-Ray’s victory in the format wars over HD-DVD. While they couldn’t afford to bundle a TV with every PS3, perhaps making 3D affordable to the masses will have an effect on adoption.
As for the size of the TV, I frankly welcome it. I already have my big LCD TV in the living room,which I’m perfectly happy with. But having another TV in a smaller room like the bedroom or even the home gym (in my case these are both the same ) would not be a bad thing.
I figure this is a cheap way to get into the world of 3D gaming AND TV shows. If I like it, maybe I’ll invest in buying a lot more games and Blu-Ray discs, and eventually a large screen 3D TV. Otherwise, hey, I got a great TV I can use when others in my household want to use the big TV and I want to watch my own show or play a few 3D games from time to time. In either case, I can predict this is going to be a HOT seller during Christmas, so be sure to get on the pre-order list at Amazon. Again, ignore Amazon’s messages that the release date is December 31, 2011. Also, remember that if the price increases (or decreases) between now and then, you’ll be guaranteed the lower price.
Every now and again, you come across a game that changes everything. I have just played that game on the Playstation.
It’s called Kung-Fu Live. And it is the best exercise game I have played on the Playstation 3 to date. In fact, it ranks among the best fitness game I’ve played on any system.
And the strangest thing of all is that it’s not a $60 game from a big name company like Electronic Arts or THQ or Ubisoft. It’s from a little studio called Virtual Air Guitar company, who made it available for download on the Playstation Network for $14.99. That’s right, $14.99.
The best way I can describe Kung Fu Live is that it’s a fighting game like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. Only instead of using a game controller, you use your body. That’s right, just your body. Virtual Air Guitar has brilliantly brought Kinect-like functionality to the PS3. You only need the Playstation Eye camera–you don’t need your Dualshock controller nor even the Move controllers. You kick and your on-screen character kicks. You punch, and your on-screen character punches.
Oh yes, about your on-screen character. It’s YOU. That’s right, not an avatar, not a cartoon version of you, but your actual real-time video image that’s visible on the screen, interacting with the comic book enemies that are coming at you at all sides.
Before you begin play you need to set up the system to your own room and lighting conditions. You see a video image of yourself and you need to select from some options to try to get the image so that your own image is clear, but any images in the background are blocked out. There are four pre-defined options you can choose from, or you can go into advanced mode and tweak different settings until your image is as clean as possible. As with the Kinect, you can select menu items by pointing to them on the screen–no controller necessary.
I should say that because this is very early technology, it’ll take some time to get your image right, and even then there will be glitches (for example, imperfections and noise in your image or background objects coming through). This is understandable, given that they’re trying something new that’s never been done before on a system that wasn’t designed for it (which is probably why they opted to release the game on PSN first).
For best results the lighting in your room needs to be perfect. I had no problems playing during the day with natural sunlight coming into the room; playing at night was a little more difficult, I had to adjust the different lamps in my room to try to get it right. For best results, play against a white wall and wear dark clothes (or vice-versa). If you’re wearing dark clothes, clear away any similarly-colored furniture or fixtures behind you. It might take a little effort, but it’s worth it.
Once you have your video image set, that’s where the fun begins.
As the game starts, the screen zooms in and lets you read through the pages of a beautifully designed and illustrated comic book. You’re literally the main character in the comic book. You follow a story of a young man who’s on his first day in a comic book store.
In the first “Chapter”, after the comic book pages conclude you’re brought to a tutorial where you learn how to fight. The moves are very intuitive. To punch to the left or right, you punch. To kick to the left or right, you kick. You can move your onscreen character forward by either punching in or slightly moving your body in that direction. To jump, you jump. To do a flip, you jump but angle your body forward or backward. As you progress through the game, there are other more complex moves, all of which are still very intuitive. A “power punch” can be done by punching with both fists. A “slam” can be done by jumping up and the pounding the ground with your fists. You can even hurl lighting by raising a leg and holding your arms up! Again, as you do it in real life, you see your actual image doing it in the game.
When you finish the tutorial you’re brought back to Chapter 2.
In Chapter 2, the comic book pages show that character is closing up the comic book store and is attacked by a gang who’s after something that’s in the store. After this, you’re brought to a full scene in the comic book where you have to defeat each of your attackers using all the moves you learned in Chapter 1. As with traditional fighting games, a gauge will show you how much health you have versus your attackers. The game gets progressively harder as you move through it, but again, I always felt in control. As I got more confident, I’d unleash new attacks like combo moves and air attacks and punching and kicking high and low.
The story continues through more chapters. I didn’t want to stop playing, the only thing that stopped me was that I was exhausted!
Here’s a video of my gameplay. Faithful readers of this blog (and my other ones) will know that I’m far too bashful to have my image shown in these videos (I have no desire to be the next Rebecca Black), so I concocted a black “ninja” outfit for purposes of this review, complete with a ninja mask I made out of a scarf and hoodie. (As you can see, I had to drag out an old bedsheet to cover up my dark sofa to improve the system’s detection of me). But once I finished the video, I will admit to going shirtless and releasing my inner Bruce Lee for Chapters 3 and beyond (again, no chance anyone will see those videos )
Is the game a workout? I’ll say it is! I was kicking and punching opponents left and right and having a grand old time. And the game was surprisingly competitive, but never once did I feel I wasn’t in full control (I can’t even say that all the time with “real” fighting games that use controllers). And when each round was finished, I was sweating and panting as if I’d just gotten out of a real street fight!
The game is incredibly creative and the developers clearly have a very, very good sense of humor. One of my most favorite features of the game came as a surprise to me. The game asked me to “pose” in various ways–an outline of a body would appear on the screen and I’d have to match it. For example, sometimes you need to pose with your arms stretched out, sometimes you need to get closer to the camera for a closeup, and so on. I realized later while watching the “comic book pages” that they actually included my image WITHIN the comic book pages, so I was literally a part of the story, and the way that your images are used are genius–when I first saw them I couldn’t stop laughing. Again, it’s a use of innovative creativity that makes those “hey look at how funny you look” videos after Kinect games look almost passe.
This game easily catapults to #1 on my list of the top Playstation 3 Fitness Games. I would say it is a must-have if you’re a fan of fighting games and want to see what the future holds for innovative, creative game design. Again, go in with the right expectations–the lighting issues can be challenging and even frustrating at times, but the overall concept and innovation makes it all worth it. The best analogy I can make, and I don’t think I’m being melodramatic here, is that this is sort of like one of Thomas Edison’s first movies. Today, we look back at it as quaint and imperfect, but without those early efforts the motion picture industry would never have started. I suspect ten years from now people will look back at Kung Fu Live and point back to it as ushering a whole new way to think about video games. If I were a big time game manufacturer, I’d be keeping a close eye on the folks at Virtual Air Guitar.
The easiest way to get it is to purchase Kung Fu Live an Online Game Code from Amazon. Just make the purchase from Amazon. You’ll get a code which you can enter in the Playstation Store (click the “Redeem Codes” icon at the top of the screen). Your download will start. The total size is about 874 MB, so it goes quickly.
Looking back at some of the early reviews of this game, a lot of reviewers in the games press panned it. But I think time has vindicated the game–while most reviewers game it a rating of 3 or 4 out of 10, those very same sites’ users have overwhelmingly rated it an average of 7-9. To use another analogy, I suspect that the game reviewers didn’t have time nor patience to configure their lighting properly, and then took it out on the game. But when you take the time to set it up right, you’re in for a treat.
I’ve often said that the mark of a great fitness video game is being so fun that you don’t want to stop playing, even if you’re perspiring, panting, and exhausted. Kung Fu Live is one of those games. 5 out of 5 stars. This one is a winner.
UFC Personal Trainer is a title by THQ that’s been released on the Wii, the Xbox 360 with Kinect, and the version we’ll be reviewing today, the Playstation 3 with Move. It’s an intense workout title that uses celebrities from the world of UFC and mixed martial arts to provide training.
Our sister site XboxFitness.Org has a review of UFC Personal Trainer for Kinect. The games are practically identical between both platforms from a functional point of view. You start out by selecting your gender and entering your age, height, and weight. You then select whether you want to use one motion controller or two. A video will appear of a UFC fighter giving you a “pep talk” which sounds a little more like a legal disclaimer: Check with your doctor before exercising, wear the proper gear, stay hydrated, warm up, and get plenty of rest.
After this, you go through a fitness test, where you perform as many sit-ups as you can in one minute (holding the Move controller in your right hand) and then perform as many push-ups as you can in one minute (strapping the Move controller to your leg). I was surprised at how good the motion detection was, although granted I did have to make sure I was in camera range (much easier done on the Playstation than the Kinect version which requires a TON of room).
Next, I had to perform jumping jacks for 1 minute to get my heart rate up. After one minute a timer appeared and had me take my pulse over 15 seconds, from which it calculated my active heartrate.
At this point I was assigned a “fitness level”. As with the Kinect version, I was deemed a “beginner” even though I did a ton of sit-ups and jumping jacks (my guess is it was my inabiliy to do push-ups that kept me at beginner level). This of course was fine with me.
After the test, you’re brought to a menu. The first option is “Workouts”. You can select one of three UFC fighters: Mark Delagrotte, Greg Jackson, and Javier Mendez, to walk you through a set of custom workouts. After watching a video intro of your trainer, you can choose from 20 pre-made workouts per trainer or you can also create and save custom workouts.
Each of the 20 pre-defined workouts that take you through conditioning, working out different parts of the body, and even teaching some MMA techniques. Here’s Mark Delagrotte’s upper body workout:
The first thing you’ll probably notice is that it’s very, very long. Across the board, the workouts spend far too much time with warm-up and cool-down stretches, leaving barely any time for the actual fitness. If you decide to get the game, chances are you’ll need to create custom workouts with one or two stretching exercises instead of overdoing it like they do with the pre-made workouts.
Another thing I noticed is that a lot of the arm exercises would have been much more effective with resistance. Hand weights are obviously out of the question (one area where the Kinect excels), but Resistance Bands designed for use with Wii remotes could certainly be used.
Besides Workouts, you have the following other options:
Quick workouts – these are essentially truncated versions of the full workouts, complete with warm-up, exercises targeted to a specific goal, and then cool-down.
Activities - these are “fun” activities that you can perform with virtual equipment, including heavy punching bags, a speed bag, a heavy tire, and hitting the mitts of your favorite UFC fighter. While the simulation was definitely good and the motion controls accurate, all of the activities were just a little bit off the real thing. And again, because these exercises all use both Move controllers and not the leg strap, any exercise involving the lower body is on the “honor system”. As you can see here, I had some difficulty with the Tire Flip, but finally got it after adjusting my leg strap.
Program – Here, you can choose from different programs to meet certain goals. There’s a strength building program, a weight loss program, and an endurance building program for 30 days or 60 days. When you select a program, you’ll be brought to a calendar where you can see which specific workouts you’ll do on each day during that time.
Multiplayer Games – You can challenge a friend to compete in a workout activity side by side, by taking turns in Hot Seat mode, and online over the Playstation Network. The activities are limited to Tire Flip or Speed Bag for side by side challenges and to Hit the Miitts, Tire Flip, and Speed Bag for Hot Seat mode. For Playstation Network challenges, you’re limited to Hit the Mitts.
Player Tracker – Here’s where you can view all of your statistics and history.
It’s hard not to immediately make comparisons between the Playstation and the Kinect versions. The graphics on the Playstation are clearly superior to the Kinect’s. The live-action videos that appear throughout the game are clearer, and even the cartoony renditions of the UFC fighters are slightly less cartoony on the PS3. Also, certain exercises are much more precise on the Playstation than the Kinect. Anything involving upper body movements and punches is extremely precise on the Playstation, while with the Kinect it’d occasionally miss detecting quick movements. Having said that, I think they could have done a little more precision detection with the Playstation; during punching exercises I’d do a jab when I should have done a hook and vice-versa, but the system would credit me for all of it.
Where the Kinect shines is in full body detection. With the Kinect, during every exercise you see a silhouette image of yourself and the system does a fairly good job of detecting you. With the Playstation, any exercise involving lower-body movement requires you to strap a Move controller to your leg. The motion detection is pretty good, but for certain exercises the system doesn’t bother using motion controls at all–in those cases you’re basically on the “honor system” to do the exercise right.
I gave the Xbox version 4 out of 5 stars. As for the Playstation version, I think it deserves the same 4 out of 5 stars, but for different reasons. The accuracy of upper body controls is clearly superior, but on the other hand, the total lack of full body motion detection and the inability to use hand weights puts it at a disadvantage.
All in all, I found UFC Personal Trainer for PS3 to be a great workout, and like its Kinect counterpart its probably the most intense workout you’ll get with a Playstation fitness game–the “fitness test” alone was exhausting, and even at “beginner” level, I was having a hard time keeping up. If you’re a UFC fan and looking to get fit, you’re going to love the detail of the integration with UFC personalities and environments. If you’re not a UFC fan, it’s a good game if you are looking for an intense workout, perhaps at the expense of optimal use of motion controls or the PS3 Eye Camera. Otherwise, you might want to consider another game like EA Sports Active 2 (the best overall workout program), Get Fit with Mel B (the best cardio workout with innovative use of the PS3 camera), or Fit in Six (best if you’re looking for a huge variety of workouts).
So far, I don’t think any PS3 Fitness game publisher has hit it completely out of the park yet in terms of coming up with a game that’s a ton of fun and while also provides a good workout. It will be interesting to see if THQ’s own miCoach Premium lives up to the hype when it’s released in 2012.
With the introduction of 3D gaming and the Sony Move Wii-like motion controllers, 2010 looks to be the year that the Sony Playstation 3 takes video games to the next level. Stay tuned to this blog for the latest news and game reviews of the Sony Move and new games as they come out!