Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Product Review: EA Sports Active 2

I have been using EA Sports Active for 2 years now. It has been instrumental in helping me lose more than 100 pounds. I also used the follow up, EA Sports Active: More Workouts which really improved the original. So the question was: what could EA Sports do next to improve it even more? I was so excited when I saw they announced they were coming out with EA Sports Active 2; it immediately went on my Christmas list! I got it for Christmas (thanks Mom!) and I have used it a few times now.

By far, the thing that frustrated me the most about the first EA Sports Active was its use of the nunchuk controller. I would constantly get tangled or whip myself with the wires. EA Sports did something very smart and did away with the nunchuk altogether. Instead, it included its own wireless controller which straps right on to your leg (it communicates with a USB receiver you plug into the top of the Wii). So now, you have full range of motion. The system does an excellent job of tracking your leg movements.

EA Sports has also included a Built-in Heart Rate Monitor, which also communicates wirelessly with the game. So throughout your workout you can track your heart rate. The Heart Rate Monitor also doubles as a controller that detects your arm motions for many exercises. For certain exercises you still need the Wii remote. It also comes with a resistance band, which has been improved as well. 

One thing I really love about the new EA Sports Active is the additions they've made to the activities. There are over 70 to choose from, ranging from basic exercises to sporting events. As in the original version, most sporting events basically consist of you doing repetitions of exercise movements that approximate the movement that your on-screen character does. What I really like about EA Sports Active 2 is that they've incorporated some more interactivity and "video gaming elements" into the activities. For example, in the skateboarding and mountain biking activities, you need to leap at just the right moment to avoid obstacles or perform jumps. The new mountain biking exercise is my new favorite! You squat when going downhill, jog to make your bike go up hill and do jumps in between. It's fun but a great workout as well.

There's a new 9-week exercise regimen that you can follow. It's not just a random assortment of exercises each day, it was clearly put together by a real fitness expert. You choose four days of the week to exercise (leaving three days to rest). Each day, you work progressively on different fitness goals. Each day starts with warm-up stretches and ends with cool-down activities, and there's a good variety of activities throughout to keep the workouts interesting.

One annoyance, is that because many of the exercises don't use the Wii remote, it will time out throughout the game, which interrupts the flow of the exercises. I understand that their intent is to save battery power, but at the very least it would have been good to have an option to prevent the controllers from shutting off.

Overall, I'd say that EA Sports has maintained their position as the best workout in the video game world. They keep improving upon an already great product and I will be in line every time they release something new!

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