With a whole host of sporting titles coming to the forefront of gaming at the moment, thanks to the launch of Playstation’s Move and Microsoft’s Kinect, we review the best of the bunch of the plethora of activity titles out there as we go for the burn with EA Sports Active 2. ‘No Pain No Gain’.
Electronic Arts are taking players on a very different journey with the EA Sports Active 2 format than other titles in the tightly packed genre, we ask the question that at £79.99 retail is EA Sports’ latest fitness title all style and no substance? Join the GamesMediaPro team as we take EA Sports Active 2 for a few circuits with the out-of-breath review team.
In this day and age where everyone wants to have the perfect body of an underwear model, as well as the face worthy of Vogue and a singing voice that would send ‘Subbo’ back to the shrink’s couch, you mat be forgiven if you don’t have the rock hard ab’s of a young Peter Andre, or the dancing pec’s of a bronzed Hulk Hogan, but its doubtful. Where once variety was the spice of life, it now seems that every man and his ship’s cat all want to look like movie stars, whilst all the women want to keep everything so tight and taut that you could bounce a fifty pence piece on their bit’s and it would leap back up into your hand like a startled bullfrog that had just sat on an electric fence. This is all well and good if you have the money, time and determination to keep you traipsing off to the gym in the search of this consumer’s idea of perfection, however when the truth is revealed we are all found wanting in all three departments. Who here has the time to spend three hours in a sweaty gym every evening surrounded by dubious looking men, all mysteriously called Jason or Marcus, and then there are their female clones, naturally called Gina or Kristine, ( invariably with a ‘K’ ), as they spend more time admiring themselves in the mirror or looking down their perfect noses at you, as you bashfully stroll in dressed in stained sweat pants and a ‘Frankie Says Relax’ T-Shirt from 1985. That’s right, none of us.
Adding the extortionate price of the local gym fee’s into the equation, as well as the fact that most of us have all the willpower of a terminally addicted ‘choc-a-holic’ and you may well begin to see the true description of the vast majority of the population. Imagine then if there was some magic box that contained within its hallowed chest a device so brilliant that it could allow you to achieve the same results for a fraction of the cost, whilst at the same time providing all the equipment and motivational expertise from an onscreen trainer, that doesn’t scream at you until its blue in the face every time you fail to do that last rep in a gruelling set. Would that be marvellous? You bet your tight lycra leotard it would!
Well, fear not my fitness shy friends because the device that could just about save you from a life of being welded to your chair as you spend hour upon hour in ‘Riveldenium’ or some such other fantastical realm has arrived courtesy of those nice people at EA Sports. “But does it work”, that’s the question? Does it get results? All we have to say to you is this: If the game can get two of the most workshy layabouts that ever graced an office comfy chair off their lazy backsides and to actually enjoy putting a review together about a game where they have to physically move to complete their work, then it can do it for you too.
And that, good GmP readers, is what is one of the main selling points of EA Sports Active 2. It allows those people, like myself, who are either too weedy or too overweight, or just to darned shy to put themselves out there in a gym. Most people when surveyed about why they did not go to a gym were unanimous in their statement that they felt too self-conscious about the way that the other members, in particular those sporty types who have nothing else in their lives but being in a gym, looked down on them and made them feel uneasy or unwelcome. But with EA’s new Sports Active 2 title, all of those points matter about as much as what those meatheads think of you, as you have to venture no further than your own front room now to get a fantastic work out with top quality accessories.
First off we’ll mention the gadgets that come along with your copy of EA Sports Active 2, as when you purchase the title you get so much more than just the standard game. What you actually get inside your package is the game itself, alongside three monitors that you can strap onto legs, arms and wrists so that your console can then transform itself into a high-tech piece of sporting equipment as it measures heart and BPM during your work-out. But wait, that’s not all. You also get the tension band that is, without any shadow of a doubt, one of the most integral parts of this title as it just allows the player to do so much and accomplish so many different exercises.
More importantly though is what you don’t get with EA Sports Active 2, and that is that you don’t get snigger’s from ‘Captain Perfect’ as you struggle to complete your stretching exercises, and snorts of derision from ‘Supple Suzy’ as she throws herself into her pole dancers training programme with usual gusto and ‘look at me I’m gorgeous’ attention seeking enthusiasm. You don’t have to worry about what others think, and you certainly don’t have to worry about trying to compete with people who spend all their waking moments either in the gym or in front of a mirror, or,more to the point, both.
Don’t get us wrong here, if you are already a sporty type then the game is perfectly designed for you too, as you can just jump straight in and get on with your set’s and training regime with no fuss. It is more than likely that you will be familiar with the terms, doctrine and warm up’s than most and so can get straight on and build yourself a perfect training programme to fit your every need. But for the rest of us out there who need a little more help to get into shape, then EA’s approach to introducing the novice to a regular programme is nothing short of inspired.
Although the game’s ambassador, a certain David Beckham no less, is not actually the avatar that joins you on your path to perfect health, nevertheless EA have done a fine job of supplanting a digital instructor to assist you as you get to grips with the more rudimentary lessons of basic health and fitness. Niki and Devon are the choices of trainer that EA have made available to you, and both will undoubtedly make you feel like a Greek God with their constant morale boosting speech’s and Zen-type mantra’s that they offer to you in the way of inspiration. You also have your fully upgradeable and customizable personal avatar with which you can deck out in the latest sporty garb and attachments from headbands to sneakers.
So once you have chosen what hairstyle you would like your avatar to sport, and of which colour, its down to the nitty-gritty. Chosing to make your own personalized routines from any combination of the 68 that are on offer to Playstation 3 owners, ( the Kinect version for the Xbox360 has 52 ), this another feature of EA Sports Active 2, and a welcome one at that, but you may also follow the games pre-programmed offerings for a simpler jump into the game. Simpler, however, only in the way that it saves you the time of not having to building the routine, not that they are in any way less demanding or less punishing.
Take for example the games preset 3 week cardio programme and the 9 week fitness programme that will be more than suitable for just about any gamer out there, whether they are familiar with fitness training, or not, as they both offer ever increasingly difficult routines that will allow the player to benefit from the workouts, regardless of experience or state of health. The programme adapts itself not to others…but to you.
Once you have selected which routine in which you would like to partake, from here it is the well-advised warm up session that will be your first port of call, as any trainer or athlete would recommend. Even the ‘warm up’ session had our two hapless health reluctant’s huffing and puffing their way through the variety of lunges and stretches. Seeing as the game focuses far more on the movement of the player, as opposed to the more standard fare offered by its rivals where the game would roll along happily with the player trying to catch up and stay in time with the on-screen trainer, it is, therefore, a far more exacting and precise affair, in that the trainer will patiently await you whilst you attempt to have a sneaky rest, water break, ( which is actively encouraged for gamers to stay thoroughly hydrated throughout their programme ), or miss out on an exercise in the hope of cheating your way through the game. This makes EA’s fitness title a far more endearing prospect for the newcomer to the world of the digitally enhanced training simulator, but it also makes cheating a rather more moot point. The reality of ‘cheating’ your way through the sessions is that ultimately you only cheat yourself, but EA’s more precise movement based programme means that for those out there who are used to cheating their way through other kinds of fitness media mediums, such as lying down and having a sneaky cigarette as they ponder Jane Fonda in her snug fitting outfit, you will quickly learn that you are less able to fool this system into believing that you have completed all the required movements or exercises, and so with encouraging words and a perma-smile your trainer will wait quietly until you have finished the set.
Moving on to your main workout EA have managed to make Sports Active 2’s programmes a surprisingly fun activity, something that can only be a good thing as one of the greatest problems with any kind of fitness based workout is keeping the interest and motivation of the player. So many other titles have failed in this department, and as such have failed in their attempt to hold the attention spans of the players resulting in the game being a forgotten title doomed to spend eternity on the shelf of a second-hand game shop. This is not the future for EA Sports Active 2 as with the inclusion of so many varying workouts and mini-games in the training programme, that will see you undertaking some genuinely entertaining moments whilst completing challenges involving mountain bikes, basketballs and penalty shoot outs to name but a few, the player never gets that feeling of stagnation as the boredom levels slowly rise as the blood pressure and heart rate monitor notices the gradual lowering of interest.
Along with the excellent torsion belt, that will see players pulling off some cracking exercise routines and moving past levels of fitness they never thought that they were capable of, EA Sports Active 2 also comes pre-packed with an array of related tools and insights that have been specifically designed to heighten the player’s experience and enhance the results and gameplay. There is the nutrition guide for players to take added benefits and advice from experts who have put together some of the wisest information this side of your local GP. There is also the calendar that is there for you to plan your workouts, and your future fitness programme, so that you may better structure your time to gain the optimum results.
Although the price tag may gave some gamers balking at handing over around £79.99 for the title, what you have to do is weigh up the pro’s and con’s of the purchase, and we hope that our review has, in some small way, convinced you that if you are in the slightest bit interested in good health and physical fitness then this game is a must-buy for you. Everything that you could possibly hope for is contained within the package. From the first rate Yoga classes to the top-notch heart rate monitors and torsion band right the way through to the excellent programming that see’s EA Sports Fitness 2 come out way ahead of its competitors. So if you are serious about your health then we can seriously recommend that this will be the wisest decision you make all year. Quite simply the very best fitness title on the market, and comes complete with personal trainer in your own home for less than the price of a new pair of training shoes. What more could you possibly ask for?
Graphics: Typically high quality EA fare is on offer once again from the award-winning development team. Everything has been given a vastly improved look over its best-selling younger brother, EA Sports Active, and the obvious improvements are evident right from the opening sequences. No frame rate problems and even less likely to glitch out on you, EA Sports Active 2 looks as good as it plays, and it plays better than anything else out there. A well justified and thoroughly deserved score. 10
Gameplay: As stated in the description of the graphical content, EA Sports Active 2 entered the race, reached the tape and raised the trophy in triumph before the competitors have even tied their laces. So far out in advance of its rivals that telescopes are required to see it. Far superior content makes EA’s title the only option as it ensures a much more enjoyable experience that will ensure results for all those gamers who make the correct decision on purchasing the title. Sizzling stuff again from EA Sports. 10
RePlay Value: If you think that we scored 10’s across the board lightly then you are very much mistaken. Every aspect of the title has been taken into consideration when we make the decision on its final score and the replay value of the game is one of the hottest topics. Will it deserve another 10? A resounding ‘yes!’ is the reply. The way that EA have managed to find that elusive ‘X-Factor’ that has been missing in every other sports fitness title, and actually manage to allow gamers to have fun and smile whilst they are getting in shape, is a shining example of the amount of time and effort EA has put into this game so that players may enjoy coming back for more. A top score if ever a game deserved it. 10
Presentation: Now we know that we have scoring system here at GamesMediaPro that allows people to think that we give most games a higher score than other reviewers. This is as may be, but we will explain the reasoning behind it and maybe then you will see why EA Sports Active 2, and indeed other reviews on our site, gets the score it very much deserves. We look at a game from all angles, but mainly when we review a game we look at a title from the point of view of the person that the developer intended it to be marketed at. So in that respect when we come to review EA Sports Active 2 we are looking at this title from the standpoint of someone looking to get fit, and what they are looking for in a game that claims to offer it all. What we don’t do is look at it from the point of view of a platformer who hates all things sporty, or a fraghead who never leaves the land of the first person shooter.
With that notion in mind you now look at EA Sports Active 2 and until you go right through the game and sample all that it has to offer then you cannot really give an accurate assessment of what the developer was trying to convey to their target audience. So we pulled on our shorts, threw a vest on and grabbed our training shoes out of the dusty closet under the stairs and proceeded to allow the on-screen personal trainer to put us through our paces in the search for the message that EA were hoping to pass on to their customers. Did we find it? You bet your cotton socks we did. The game is the very best of what is on offer to those people looking to enhance their experience of a fitness programme from the comfort and security of their own homes. It surpasses, and indeed far supercedes, any other title on the market right now in every department and aspect from start to finish. Everything is of a higher quality with EA Sports Active 2. From the peripherals that outshine any other rival’s hapless attempts to steal a part of EA’s pie, right through to the first class programmes on offer to the player, as well as the sheer superior standard of customizable content and exercise regimes. EA Sports Active 2 manages to do all this whilst allowing the player to still adopt a healthy outlook and enjoy the experience to boot. You ask again does it deserve 10’s across the board? We say this, in its genre there is nothing else like it, and ‘yes’ it earns every 10 it gets. 10