Another unique title makes its way to Kinect, and another title that we didn’t know what to expect. For those unaware, Self-Defense Training Camp claims:

Be the hero of your own life with this game that trains you to respond best when you need it most. Self-Defense teaches you how to protect yourself from someone who’s trying to harm you. Build self-confidence and learn self-defense techniques in a program that’s part workout and part master class. Focus on four essential skill sets: stamina, technique, reflexes, and composure in lessons taught by a real-life self-defense expert. Kinect provides feedback as you learn, letting you go at your own pace in a safe, comfortable environment.

Overview

Being a guy, I was thinking this game was going to teach you actual martial arts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really teach you anything. It’s primarily for the ladies that don’t have to common sense to be blunt. The majority of the 30 moves involve kicking or punching a man (the game always refers to the attacker as a male) in the groin, poking him in the eyes or bursting his ear drums. The game informs you that you don’t want to hurt your attacker, but give you enough time to run away.

The Menu

This one is kind of odd, it’s using a swipe system but with no on-screen cursor. To confirm your actions, you have to right punch. To cancel out of a menu, you have to left punch. The menu is pretty unorganized as well, to give you an idea from left to right, the menu items are Cardio Workout, Options, Profile & Extras, Balance Practices, Self Defense Rehearsal, and Reflex Training. You would have thought it would have been a little more organized. When you first enter the game, it starts on you on your Profile & Extras. If you are male, you will want to go in here and change your avatar, although they are preset, I would be surprised if there was more than one. The game does default to a woman avatar. I’m going to touch base on the items in a different order that probably will make more sense.

Self Defense Rehearsal

This mode is your “training” I suppose. There are 5 different sessions, I’ll call them, and in each session there are 6 different activities. Most of them are similar and the majority are either simple punching/kicking to the groin, poking the eyes out, busting out ear drums, etc. It’s really basic common knowledge to be honest. I don’t know what’s worse about it, the lag in the game or the graphics or the game itself. How it works is you are introduced to the full activity which is typically broken up in 2-5 moves. You then are shown sometimes, what the first part of the full activity is, and then you have to replicate it in 2 tries. What makes it more annoying is if it’s an attack from behind move, you can’t see anything and then you have to rely on the animation that pops up showing you what to do.

Once you do the first one successfully twice, it then times you. This is what I found amusing. It wants you to be as fast as possible as it does time you, but the game is so slow that you can basically queue up moves and your avatar will animate them as fast as the game goes. It’s one of the biggest oxymoron games I have ever played. Once you complete it, more than likely you will get 5 stars. You have a belt meter, which if it was this easy to earn belts, everyone would be doing it! They range from orange to black, but I don’t want to burst your bubble, the black belt in this game compared to real life is a joke. That’s really all there is to this mode. It’s very slow, not very active and I didn’t really learn anything I didn’t know already.

Here’s a video of one of the activities, if you watch my video box you can see how delayed it is as I do the sequence of the moves in order, and then the game does it later, just baffling:

Reflex Training

Once you learn some situational moves, I’d recommend going into this area. This one is ok, unfortunately it’s probably the best one to be honest. This mode is more of reaction time than anything. The first activity has dodge moves, just left and right. It doesn’t really help you as in a real life situation, you need to be able to determine which arm they are throwing with in order to dodge it correctly within a split second — actually let me rephrase — this game will not help you in real life and please don’t attempt any of it, you may hurt yourself or someone else. Anyhow, the other activities include blocking punches, blocking kicks, throwing punches and kicking. This one gets you going a little bit activity wise, so it’s not too bad. In the later activities though, there is just all kinds of stuff going on and it doesn’t work very well. There are 5 activities total and 5 levels in each activity.

Here’s a video of the dodging activity. It is quite boring but it is more active than the self-defense classes:

Cardio Workout

They label this one as martial arts fitness workouts. This one starts to get you going, although it still doesn’t require that much effort. Heck, Kinect Sports makes you sweat more than this game does so I’m not really sure what their definition of cardio really is. Anyhow, it’s more of a step aerobics deal just with punching and kicking oddly with all of it making no sense. There are 10 different levels you can play. I did forget to mention, everything is locked as I think Ubisoft thought by locking everything, it would make it cooler? Yeah, not with this title. So you have to play every level to unlock the next, it’s annoying in this game.

Here’s a video of the cardio workout:

Balance Practices

This is what they call “zen” poses, although I found the Zen mode in Your Shape much more engaging and active. I think this one is more of a Yoga deal, sorry I am not an expert on it, it may be welcomed to some. There are 10 different sessions you can do. I’d have to say their outfits are pretty cool though Self Defense Training Camp kinect game reviews special

Here’s a video of how it works, it will probably explain it better than I can:

Profile & Extras

Under here there are quite a few things, View Profile will allow you to view your stats and it stats of everything so at least it does something good for you. There’s also a Calendar that keeps track of what activities you do every day. You can also edit your profile if you need to change anything.

There’s another section that has Coach’s Tips which is 4 videos, but again you have to unlock these. They are informative for the most part, but I wouldn’t buy the game alone on the videos. Lastly are your achievements and the ability to change your gamer profile.

Options include subtitles, music, voice and sound effects, graphic settings, kinect tuner and credits. Unfortunately that’s all there really is to this game.

The Rest

The avatar graphics during the rehearsal’s are just awful. You can actually see lines where the graphics don’t line up, like the bottom of the head and the top of neck. It’s pretty bad. At least the backgrounds look nice. The music is ok, it’s not super annoying as other titles so that’s always a plus. The controls themselves are pretty sloppy, but at least it can tell the difference between your right and left hands and feet. You don’t move around freely and only step usually forward or backward to mix it up. All in all, this is Kinect basic controls at its minimum. This is another Ubisoft title that doesn’t offer Uplay.

Conclusion

I was really hoping this was going to be a real martial arts experience, but unfortunately you can get a better experience with playing Fruit Ninja Kinect. I can’t even recommend this title to women that are interested in learning self-defense as you will really won’t learn anything. I’d recommend going to a real self-defense class, and the game does as well. You really don’t want to depend on this game to save your life as it won’t. There’s so much of a difference with this game and real life situations. This title is really a flop and I really don’t know what the point of it was. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, Ubisoft just took on too many games this holiday season and the results of this one shows it.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Self-Defense Training Camp
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