We fatties need help. We are cursed with an acute and unfettered sense of deliciousness. Our bodies offer us the same chemical brain rewards for lying on the sofa in a sleeved blanket that athletes get from pole vaulting over a bungalow. And now our Xboxes, so long an ally in our crusade of mild and tasty self-abuse, have offered just that help.
The Biggest Loser takes an insulting pun and swaddles it in gentle encouragement. "You can do it!" it cajoles. "That was great, but next time you really need to pull all the stops out!" it insists, after your silhouette has slumped into a motionless heap. It tests your health with a series of incremental aerobic exercises, offers you a set of aerobic workouts from 20-60 minutes and pads out the offering with a small collection of aerobic challenges, and a very American collection of recipes. Turkey and Loaf, for example, are two words that will always require other words between them.
The Biggest Loser needs room. If you can't find the space to lie across the room eight feet from your sensor, then you'll be stuck on the light, standing exercises, and find yourself reaching for a Snickers in frustration. The exercises themselves range from brisk to genuinely exhausting - as does navigating the menu system. Curiously, it often lacks 'back' options, which is doubly annoying when you have to put your hand over an icon to see what it is - a gesture, remember, that Kinect uses to 'select' items. Poor design here actually damages the overall, and all-important, friendliness of the game.
The camera and game offer an impressive array of unforgiving feedback, including a 3D, but tastefully silhouetted, rendition of yourself that allows for uninhibited underwear-play. You'll be warned about over-wild movements, under-performance, limb positioning and so on - but the camera simply isn't nuanced enough to pick up and correct everything. That said, this game is a damn sight more interactive and helpful than any fitness video made by a pop star who's been driven by vicious tabloid headlines and mental instability to starve herself to the point of infertility.
You can't help but wonder if The Biggest Loser will be damaged by the admission of feckless gluttony that's implicit in the purchase. But if you want to lose weight, and your mind throws a fog of delusion and twisted justifications in your path, then the numbers and tips of The Biggest Loser might just break that spell. Anything's worth a try in the vain pursuit of a world made entirely of happy, thin people, right?
Does what it's trying to do pretty well
- Good feedback on your movement
- Variety of exercises
- Relentlessly encouraging
- Labyrinthine menu system
- Recipes clearly an afterthought