EA Sports Active
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EA Sports Active More Workouts builds more fun and variety into what was already a leading fitness game on the Wii. Even with strong competition on Nintendo's Wii console, EA Sports Active More Workouts is the best all round performer for those serious about getting fit.
When I reviewed EA Sports Active earlier in the year it was one of the best fitness games available, complementing Wii Fit's fun and balance oriented approach to exercise with a more intense, cardio based workout.
Its smart use of the Wii-mote and Nun-chuck combined with a leg strap and resistance band makes Sports Active a great way to burn calories. However, it wasn't perfect. The exercises were a bit repetitive (as were the instructors), with an obsession with lunges and squats, and with dull backdrops such as running around a track rather than Wii Fit's picturesque island. The workouts, while effective, lacked a warm-up or cool-down, and the structured set of routines lasted just 30 days.
EA Sports Active - More Workouts, the follow up release from EA, addresses most of these shortcomings with roundly strong results. The setting has been spruced up, moving it to a tropical island (shades of Wii Fit's WuHu island there), a more pleasant backdrop than a running track. There are also over 35 new exercises which add variety to the mix and make for a more full-body workout.
The obsession with squats and lunges is thankfully gone, replaced by more upper body and abdominal exercises. There is also a lot more fun and enjoyment here. A wide selection of games are on offer to liven things up, such as an obstacle course along the beach to make your running more enjoyable, and squash to get you doing those lunges. Other games, such as the skateboarding, have been replaced by island based versions like water skiing.
EA have also made better use of the resistance strap, finding new and interesting things to do with it.
EA have also made better use of the resistance strap, finding new and interesting things to do with it, adding lots of new variations on the muscle exercises by folding, holding, and standing on the band in various new ways. This has two benefits: it makes things more interesting, and is much more effective at working all of your muscles. I've had aches in muscles that I didn't know I owned after doing some of these exercises, which is always a good sign that they are doing some good.
All these new exercises mean that the new six week challenge shouldn't get boring. This is an improvement on the 30 day challenge but I'm still left wondering what to do once I've finished it, I assume EA are not planning to release a new version in the next month and a half. Other fitness games on the Nintendo Wii such as My Fitness Coach manage to generate new routines automatically each day, but EA are stuck in the pre-programmed approach, meaning that once they run out you just have to do them again. It also means you are at the whim of the developers as to how long you exercise each day, with the routines varying in length by over 15 minutes. This won't be a problem for many, but for those like me who like to exercise before they go to work in the morning it can make it difficult to fit your workouts into a regular schedule.
Despite these issues, I've found the routines themselves are much better, with proper warm-up and cool-down sessions that take a few minutes - but well worth doing. Warming up your muscles and joints before exercising, especially on these cold winter mornings, is thought to reduce the risk of injury and is highly recommended. The transition between exercises and the instructional videos also seems smoother, although I found the repeated instructions on how to tuck the Nun-chuck in the leg strap started to get on my nerves. I also found the trainer much less annoying, with a wider repertoire, and less need to comment all the time. It's a fine balance, but EA seem to have hit the sweet spot this time.
I found the routines more enjoyable and the experience is slicker and better thought out.
EA Sports Active More Workouts is a definite improvement, I found the routines more enjoyable and the experience is slicker and better thought out. There are still a few small issues, such as the variation in routine length, and the limited scope of the 6 week challenge, but these are not enough to stop it being the best exercise game on the market if you are after a more serious, calorie burning, approach. More Workouts bodes well for the Sports Active series, and I'm already looking forward to the next version. However, it's difficult to really judge a fitness game on just a few hours of use, so I'm going to try and lose the pounds I've put on over the holiday season by working through the six week challenge. I'll report on my experience and my results in two months time.
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