EA Sports Active 2 Preview (Wii)

At a recent EA event, I had a chance to sit and watch Gerard Recio, certified trainer and associate producer working on EA Sports Active 2, make me feel completely lazy and useless. I don't blame Gerard for this, but if you have never watched someone do a workout while you sat there gawking and writing down notes, you should try it sometime if you really want to feel like a lazy piece of crap.

That oddity aside, I have to say something else kind of strange. EA Sports Active 2 is hardcore. I am not quite sure the "9 week" program being included in the game will satiate really intense fitness folks, but the technology, Web site integration and heart-rate monitor make it seem like this game is serious business. Since the game is also completely controller-free, it also adds that extra element of intrigue.

The fitness program in the game is being called the "Total Body Tracking" system, which basically involves the heart-rate monitor and the motion-tracking data. The heart-rate monitor is included in the game, and the motion tracking is Kinect-based. The heart-rate monitor straps to your arm, but that's the only thing you will technically need for Active 2. You can use dumbbells or other personal add-ons, but there are no fitness bands etc. this time around.

During the brief demo, I got to see a quick workout that consisted of a couple activities. The activities included push-ups, smacking a punching bag a couple different ways and riding a virtual bike through an off-road course. The bike riding was simulated by using a variety of squats and foot tapping, while the punching bag and the push-ups were based on more self-explanatory motions.

Since the motion-tracking data is being based around the Kinect camera, that obviously means the camera has to hold up well for Active 2 to work correctly. So far, the camera seems to mostly hold up to the test. The camera struggled to pick up Gerard when he was doing push-ups, but that may have had something to do with me and another onlooker being in close proximity to the camera. Otherwise, the camera flawlessly tracked the various types of punches to the virtual punching bag, and the jumping and squatting during the biking.

Interestingly enough, the things that excited me most about Active 2 were actually elements that went beyond the game. The first one is the EA Web site. After you finish any workout, your data in the game is immediately transferred to the Web site as well. So you can easily see all of your workouts and data right on the Web. The interface is really clean and it's easy to see the progress you are (or are not) making. These are fully detailed reports on the Web, and the Web site also keep grand totals to help you see how you're doing in a variety of areas.

The other element to the Web site ties into social networking. You can start or join a group and then invite other members to be in it. At that point, you can see how all the members in your group are doing on the Web site. If members of the group are slacking, you can message them and tell them to step their game up. On top of that, the group pages also rank members of the group, so there is that game element to it. The overall rankings are basically shown to you via a high-score list, so it's easy to understand as well. As of now, the game does not have any true Facebook/Twitter integration, but I think that is an element that would really benefit the game.

Final Thoughts

EA Sports Active 2 is shipping in November, and I truly am excited to check it out. I workout quite a bit but was never interested in the original Active. I was not interested in the original because the experience gave off a bit of a "cheap" vibe. This stemmed from the shoddy fitness bands that came with the game as well as the Wii Fit board that I was not entirely sold on. However, this version of Active is looking more refined, more technologically impressive and more flexible. There will be DLC packs that include new workouts, and as long as the Kinect camera helps rather than hurts the minute-to-minute experience, everything should be good to go. However, it's imperative that the technology not get in the way of your workout and throw you off your rhythm in any way, so I will continue to be a little concerned about the final experience.

Member Comments
# 1 bballshawn24 @ 01/27/11 01:47 PM
really you pay lees for a membership at the Y with more fitness machines

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