Thursday, November 17, 2011

EA Active 2 Initial Thoughts: Workout Option Or Flailing Jackass Simulator

by: Chris Louis
Guest Blogger

Is the Kinect and it's "controller free" a viable option for gamers trying to blend their hobby with a healthy lifestyle change? Guest Blogger Chris Louis chimes in with his initial thoughts on EA Active 2 for Kinect.

Most people are tired of monthly expenditures (cell phone, internet/cable, apartment/house bills, etc.) and would prefer to have a gym membership without adding to that list. With EA Active 2, the gamer can enjoy the benefits of a trainer- implemented workout without the monthly monetary membership or social pitfalls of a public gym. EA Active 2 is packaged with a large green elastic band & 2 straps that when combined, give the gamer dozens of different exercise abilities. Also included is the heart monitor unit, which is a velcro-strapped sensor that rests on your lower forearm (batteries are included). Lastly is the actual game disc. The title launches and the game is walked step-by-step through setup (including gamer’s name, age, sex, weight, & workout intensity), introduction (allowing the gamer to choose a male or female trainer), and program details (which exercises you want to perform, lifestyle surveys, & EA Active 2 communities of fellow exercising gamers).

Upon initial equipment setup & information input into the game (which took about 10 minutes), the gamer is given the choice to create their own workout blueprint or follow a pre-programmed 9 week curriculum. I recommend to fellow first-timers to follow the 9 week program. Be sure to have a towel & water/sports drink alongside as you work out. Multiplayer mode is available with two gamers working out at the same time. After the first time you have performed an exercise/drill during any previous session, the program skips the tutorial. This allows the gamer to maintain their heartrate & workout pace promoting a more aerobic workout, adding to the massive on-screen calorie burn tabulation.

There are occasional issues with the Kinect not picking up exact motions made during exercises. You will either see your avatar motionless or a “Player not recognized” prompt appears and pauses the workout abruptly. This is remedied by repositioning yourself or in-game Kinect Tuner calibration. Voice commands to the Kinect to “Pause Workout” or “Skip Exercise” are not always recognized & the user needs Kinect–manipulated hand menu navigation or the use of a controller to perform these functions. In regards to the heart monitor unit, the only annoyance lies in sweat accumulating on the forearm with the unit sometimes causes the unit to move & the on-screen BPM of the heartrate is temporarily ceased. A retightening of the strap usually fixes this issue. Additionally, I’ve already encountered exercises that, due to the lack of precision of the Kinect’s motion reading, I always skip to due to frustration.

With my first week completed, I have burned over 1000 calories and gained 100 GamerScore to my profile. Win! It coincides with this review because this is only a game, not a long-term fitness device. Supplementing the EA Active 2 workout plan with a sensible free weightlifting, jogging, and/or other sporting activity is highly recommended. $60 retail is the cost of the package, but a savvy shopper can find this cheaper & find themselves with a very good fitness title. After my 9 week session, I’ll tell you whether you need to pony-up or cancel your gym membership for EA Active 2.

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