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Author Topic: Review - EA Sports Active (Wii)  (Read 2216 times)

Mark

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Review - EA Sports Active (Wii)
« on: August 07, 2009, 01:29:02 PM »


EA Sports Active is a new take on Wii excercise that provides a nice alternative for those interested in a dedicated training regiment but don't want to subscribe to a gym or hire a real personal trainer.

You get the game, a pouch to attach the nunchuk to your thigh (for most leg excercises), and a light excercise band with unattached handles (for arm excercises).  The band is a bit on the flimsy side, not to mention the resistance is weak.  It won't be sufficient for strength training, but it is a great introduction to endurance training for building proper form and maximizing reps (which consequently also increases calorie burning).  It retails for $60.

I have heard several cases of the band breaking, but given the average intellect of Internet users, I think a good portion of those can be attributed to user error.  Nonetheless, if you are serious about the game and your fitness, you'll most likely buy heavier resistance bands at some point (hint: buy bands without handles.  Most bands with handles will have the rounded grips that will make it difficult to hold your Wiimote at the same time).

The single player focuses around a 30-day challenge which gives you a nice set of excercises daily with a rest day for every couple of workout days.  The sets vary a lot, targeting different areas of the body to tone.  However, you'll find yourself doing some variant of lunges with annoying frequency (note: you can skip individual excercises if you wish).

I think the one thing that sets this game apart from the rest is it has an effective upper-body workout.  Using the band, you can do bicep curls, overhead presses, tricep extensions, upright rows, etc.  There are some muscle groups you can't target (lats come to mind since there really isn't a way to do pull downs... pecs too), but for the most part you do get a pretty decent workout without needing a whole lot in terms of accessories (a bench, for starters).

Each excercise has a training video that shows you proper form (both for the excercise impact and for the Wiimote to register your movements better).  The response is pretty good.  The trainer will walk you through each step of every rep so you know which movement it's looking for next.  There are certain times on certain excercises we've had minor frustrations with it not registering right (Tina in particular).  It's definitely an occasional annoyance, but not frequent enough to be game breaking.  Sometimes the trainer also makes you wait a second or two in between movements in an excercise, which can try your patience.

The excercises themselves vary greatly in variety.  Many of them - particularly the sports ones - genuinely feel like you are having fun instead of just going through the motions.  Basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis... they are all really well done and enjoyable.  The punching bags/targets are a blast too.  And who would have thought something as simple as crouching and jumping in inline skating would be such a joy?  My only gripe with the sports games is that there is no option for left or right handed (mostly for baseball and tennis).  It makes you feel like you are only working out one arm.

Of course, you also have basics like running, lunges, squats, etc.  Plus the arms excercises mentioned above.  The point is, there is a lot of variety although you may not see that right away since each session has you doing several of the excercises more than once (this is actually the proper way to train muscle groups, it's not for lack of creativity or anything).

You can also create your own custom workouts if the premade ones don't cut it for you (the 30-day challenge has 20 days of workouts with 3 different levels of challenge, plus some other themed workouts like "sports day").

The graphics are average but it doesn't really matter.  They do just fine for what they are there for.

The sound is actually pretty good, particularly the music.  There are something like 41 music tracks that vary enough to where you can probably find a few songs you enjoy working out to.  And you can customize it to weed out the ones you don't like.  The trainer voices are also very good - clear and easy on the ears.

COOP:

The first thing you need to know is that if you want to do coop for all of the excercises, you will need to purchase the multiplayer pack ($20).  This comes with a second thigh pouch and excercise band with handles.  This assumes you already have a second Wiimote and nunchuk, which are also required.  You could probably MacGyver something yourself if you really wanted to, but we opted to just buy the multiplayer pack.  

Unfortunately, you can't do the 30-day challenge in coop.  You can still do all of the excercise sets, but it doesn't remember what you last did, nor does it keep track of what you have done prior.  There is no calendar either.  This is kind of a bummer because having it track your progress and tell you what to do next is a good motivator.

Despite those gripes, working out with a friend is quite a bit of fun.  For each excercise, you are both working to a combined goal.  For example, if you are doing 5 laps of running and one of you wants to do a light jog while the other runs fast, that's fine - you both finish at the same time so nobody has to wait for the other.  One person just gets a bit more excercise and you move onto the next one.  This can also spark a little bit of competition if that's your thing, but it's a friendly, cooperative feel overall.

Conclusion:

This game surprised us with how professional it felt.  The game presents itself very well and you are pretty much guaranteed to break a satisfying sweat every workout if you actually try.  I rate the single player at 8.5 and the coop at 8.75.  The lack of some key features from single player is surpassed by the fact that it's great to be able to workout with a friend, even if it does involve a little extra investment.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2009, 11:48:21 AM by Mark »

 




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