Getting in shape appears to be the next big trend in gaming. When Nintendo introduced Wii Fit it introduced a whole new audience to the world of interactive entertainment. Unlike videos where the onscreen directions were simply a suggestion, these new types of games actually forced the players to get off the couch and perform the specific exercises themselves. With EA Sports’ newest Wii title simply called Active, the company is taking the genre to a whole new level by offering a gym-style workout from the comfort of your own home. Instead of focusing on yoga poses the game instead sets its sights on more cardio-style workouts and mini-games. This ends up making EA Sports Active a more enjoyable way to keep in shape.
I will be the first one to admit that I am not keen on the idea of routine exercise. It is hard to squeeze in enough time in a day to push yourself to a traditional workout. The way that this new genre has changed all of that, is by incorporating the idea of having fun, while maintaining a regular schedule. Active achieves this by offering you the option of tackling the game either by opting to simply perform one workout session at a time, or to invest into a 30-day schedule that tracks your progression as you go.
Another cool feature is that the game will also ask you questions on your daily habits such as eating out or how much water you drank, to give you an idea of how to take care of your body. It is these little nuances and the fact that most of the activities actually feel sequential to each other that keep the flow of the exercises flowing so well. It certainly won’t replace a trip to the gym, nor should it be substituted as such, but the end results may surprise you if you keep at it.
The game comes bundled with a tension band and leg strap (to holster your nunchuk in during some routines) and is also compatible with the Wii balance board. These items packed in the box allow for a nice variety of workouts that span categories such as cardio, sports, and upper and lower body. As I can imagine the skepticism among gamers is that you can simply cheat your way through each exercise, but you would be surprised just how well the game tracks motions. Activities such as squats can be done half-cocked, but honestly why would you purchase a fitness game if you simply intended to cheat yourself of the benefits.
The collection of possible workout combinations is impressive. There are several types of running, walking, squats, lunges, curls, aerobics and even jumping that keep things interesting throughout your entire workout. Being someone who is not entirely in the best shape one session and my muscles were certainly feeling the burn. Sweating while playing games is not something that happens often, but I have to admit once the pain subsided I could really feel a difference even after one session. The selection of mini-games also helps the repetition from sinking in. If you grow tired of one thing, simply move onto the next and the game will track accordingly.
What sets this particular outing apart from Nintendo’s though is that it seems more effective and focused on a regime. You can pop this title in every day after work and focus on specific exercises, or you can opt to dedicate yourself to the full 30-day workout, which is also hosted by Bob Greene, Oprah’s aerobics master. The customization is really what keeps you coming back for more without growing tired of the constant repetition.
If there is one thing that Active lacks it is presentation. The visuals are overly blurry, even for a Wii title. The FMV sequences that show off the exercises are truly not very well designed, and the overall graphics just look terrible at times. When you create your avatar there are only a few options, so you can be fit, skinny or fat, with little in between for your imagination, surprisingly though there are a ton of different shades to sport. The sounds are minimal, but the instructor does call out plenty of motivational things when you do well, as well as words of encouragement when you are lagging behind. These things are trivial, and not depictive of the overall products, but we can’t help but feel they are on the lacking side.
Overall EA Sports Active is easily the most robust and enjoyable fitness experience on the Wii to date. Even without the Wii Fit board you can get a fantastic workout in as little as twenty minutes, and the best part of all is that it is fun. This is obviously a trend that is here to stay, and if EA can continue to improve on the formula then they will continue to be the front-runner in the genre. If you are looking for the best workout experience on the Wii, then EA Sports Active should be your first step. While it won’t replace a regular exercise regime, it does offer a solid alternative to simply sitting around while playing games.