Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
EA Sports Active
Though a far cry from Wii Fit's Balance Board, EA Sports Active comes with a duo of fitness-focused accessories that are necessary to complete the exercises
- The game motivates you to work out, excellent customised exercises
- The generic create-a-character and bland song list won't inspire you, the game will also keep you stuck in painful positions from time to time.
As a long-time Wii Fit user, it was going to take some serious effort to knock that game out of my fitness regimen. EA Sports Active, however, was up to the task, providing better exercises with an excellent user interface. I've been using Active pretty consistently since it came out, and I can say without reservation that it's the best workout game on the market right now. If you've got a Wii and want to shed some weight, it's definitely worth purchasing.
I know they're meant to cater to the casual crowd, but the idea of fitness-focused video games has always appealed to me. My fitness regimen has always consisted of me working out by myself with some sort of technology acting as the carrot on a stick, be it an MP3 player used on a run outside or turning on the TV while I work on the rowing machine. So it should come as no surprise that I instantly latched onto Wii Fit, the first game to really take fitness seriously while also making it fun.
In the year or so following the game's release, I probably put more time into Wii Fit than any other video game I own. I'd typically put in 10-30 minutes (depending on whether the weather made running worthwhile) of workout time for three to four sessions every week for over 50 weeks. Wii Fit had definitely ingrained itself into my routine, but there were some adverse effects, as I eventually got stuck in a rut of picking the same four or five exercises.
Now EA Sports Active has arrived, and everything's changed. In a little over a month with the game, I can definitely sense a shift. My workouts are shorter, yet more vigorous. I'm using every muscle in my body throughout the course of 20 or so minutes without having to determine the right order myself. And even though the game is missing a few key features, I know that EA Sports Active will be my new main fitness tool.
Though a far cry from Wii Fit's Balance Board, EA Sports Active comes with a duo of fitness-focused accessories that are necessary to complete the exercises. The flashier of the two is a resistance band (think a large rubber band that's been cut) that you attach to two grips. The band is then placed underneath the soles of your feet as you stand to provide a counterweight for arm and upper body strength activities like lateral raises. The other item that comes with the game is a Velcro leg strap with a pouch on it for the Nunchuck. When engaging in an activity that utilises lower-body movement like rollerblade jumps, lunges, or squats, the game senses the movement of the Nunchuck on your leg to make sure you've completed the rep. There is also Wii Balance Board support, but honestly, most of the exercises that use it aren't much better than the standard activities in the game.
Got No Game
The main difference between Wii Fit and EA Sports Active is that Active makes no bones about it--it's a workout simulator through and through. Whereas you could play Wii Fit with a crowd as you tried to top each other's best score in soccer heading or tightrope, Active's exercises are all fitness based activities you'd probably employ in real life. That's not to say they're boring. Transitioning from track running, to resistance-based bicep curls, to rollerblading, and then to returning tennis serves would probably take ages if you were in a gym, but in Active, you'll get them done (along with a handful of others) in the time it takes to watch an episode of Family Guy.
EA Sports Active has to be commended for the way it presents workouts--while you can pick and choose your favourite exercises, the preset workouts flow very naturally so that you're not picking up and putting down the resistance band too often, and most provide a very balanced workout that will test your entire body instead of making one part sore. The game's biggest draw is the 30-Day Challenge, in which you are served up 20 different workouts, increasing in intensity, over the course of a month. Whereas Wii Fit made you set arbitrary goals and offered little in the way of advice, the 30-Day Challenge offers up motivation via text and video encouragement and new exercises to keep you engaged.
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