Swedish company Coldwood Interactive released The Fight: Lights Out back at the end of 2010 to mainly negative reviews, with many disappointed by the overall quality after seeing such massive potential in early previews, citing poor motion controls and a lack of variety as a couple of reasons for its downfall. A year later, Coldwood is back with Move Fitness and all eyes are on the team to see how it's tackled the exercise genre that has so far been dominated by both Zumba Fitness and Nintendo's Wii Fit.
One of the key elements to success in this genre is the amount of variety on offer. When someone heads off to a gym for a full workout, they aim to tackle a wide range of activities over a set period of time, focusing on specific areas on a rotational basis. In these real life situations it's perfectly natural to repeat many of the same exercises over and over in order to focus on certain areas of the body and target particular muscle groups. However, translating such repetition into the world of gaming isn't ideal; no matter how many people try to argue the case that fitness games are great replacements for probable high annual membership fees, they're only methods of complementing an everyday healthy training regime.
Looking at it from that perspective, sadly Move Fitness is quite the letdown. While it does offer some fantastic motion controls for the boxing-style elements — as would have been expected given the company’s aforementioned experience — there are plenty of tiresome (and not in the good way) routines that neither leave the player feeling pumped after an adrenaline-filled round nor entertained in any form.
What certainly doesn't help is how the PlayStation Eye camera itself causes many problems. Whereas Wii Fit is reliant on the sturdy Balance Board, Move Fitness needs the camera to be perched atop a television set and all obstacles from within a 1.5m by 1.5m zone removed. That isn't merely to avoid knocking over a lamp or punching a nearby spouse, but literally everything cleared so that the camera can actually track the Move controllers (of which two are a requirement throughout) when crouching down or leaning to one side. If your pad isn't quite the sparsely furnished apartment used in promotional trailers, this proves to be a major sticking point, especially when playing tasks that involve squatting to pick up balls, a real shame since the modes linked to sports like dodge ball and basketball are otherwise excellent and exhilarating.
Another drawback is the lack of incentives for completing objectives. Although there are three goals listed on the main menu, there is no bonus for reaching these targets or extra options that eventually unlock the more you play. The number of activities available is limited, too, with a meagre 28 compared to 70 in EA Sports Active, and many of those are just rehashes of other exercises. If anything, that 28 figure is cheating owners into thinking there is more included. The truth is that in Wii Fit Plus activities expanded as players increased their proficiency in a certain area, yet in Move Fitness everything is laid bare as separate options right from the get-go. This means the routines also have far less impact than would be expected in the entertainment stakes, as well as when trying to stick to a stringent keep fit programme due to too much repetition. On top of this the trainers are only there for show, not adding much to the overall experience and definitely not giving advice on how to improve when failing at individual tasks. Thankfully, though, all of the set routines can be edited, so Beach Body, Fat Burner and the many other preset categories can be tweaked in whatever way you desire, slotting different exercises in. You can even adjust the workout time to your liking and construct a soundtrack, bringing in personal playlists too.
Other than the brilliant boxing sections and enjoyable ball-throwing aspect that highlights the impressive motion controls, positives also include statistics monitoring and tracking via graphs, illustrations of the number of calories burned and uploading of scores to online leaderboards to see how well you compare to other players. Three other players can pop around to visit, with each taking a turn at completing one exercise to see who gets the highest score at the end, or there is also the option to compare statistics with friends in an online competition.
Move Fitness may come across as rather limited in some ways, and doesn't quite match its Move competition, but there's a good selection of exercises that are highly enjoyable for the most part, particularly the boxing and ball-throwing elements. There are some issues with in-game controller recognition thanks to the PlayStation Eye’s small range and insistence on being positioned in a specific manner, but when Move Fitness works, it delivers ample fun. However, sadly it doesn't quite reach its full potential and doesn't prove a strong alternative to other similar games on the market right now.