|System: PS3, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Canada||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Fall 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Leon Hendrix III
May 4, 2010 - I was swiftly corrected when I compared EA's new game, EA Sports Active 2.0 (working title), to the Wii Fit app for Nintendo's console. First, the EA representative wanted to make it clear that the new release is not really a game, it's an exercise program. It's a small but important distinction that the demo would later prove, more or less. The second distinction was that unlike Wii Fit, EA's new release is inspired by western exercise science and common practice.
That means less of a focus on yoga-style stretches, and more on mimicking hardcore exercise routines like extreme BMX and Basketball. The 'Active 2.0' app was demoed by a young woman who seemed to be fairly fit, but 'Active 2.0' put her through her paces. And she was a pro. Another video game journalist strapped in and by the end of a session (a few sets of different exercises), his onscreen heart rate had elevated to 180. EA is getting serious about fitness, and they hope you will too.
When you begin a training session, an onscreen avatar begins a session as well. Your character's corresponding movements are the video representation of the underlying movement behind your exercise. For instance, quick, explosive feet movements in real life match up to your character onscreen, biking up a steep incline. You execute a squat jump, and the avatar jumps a hill. The effect flows both ways. The player seems to feel less like they are repeating boring movements to no avail as they watch their character jumping hurdles or knocking in headers on the soccer field. Meanwhile, the exercises seem almost instinctual at times. A soccer session was demonstrated where the personal trainer onscreen kicked balls to the sides of the goal toward the player. The player moved lunged laterally on impulse. It's a pretty cool aspect of the gameplay, and though it's nothing completely new, it definitely seats 'Active 2.0' among the most 'interactive' exercise experiences around.
'Active 2.0' will advance EA's vision with a completely wireless approach unlike its first iteration. Unlike the original, it will ship with sensors (one for the arm, another for the leg) that monitor heart rate, and resistance bands for completing weighted exercises like shoulder presses or biceps curls. The bands attached easily to the Wii-mote and the whole system seemed to work fairly well. During actual exercise sessions, 'Active 2.0' uses the monitors to track and display calorie counts and heart rate onscreen.
The games setup was pretty open. You can select pre-established workouts that use different sports to get a variety of exercises into a session, or you can create your own challenges complete with correlated videos. I didn't see it in action, but presumably these personal workouts will allow you to edit reps and time for challenges as well. If those don't work for you, you can always try EA's nine week 'Active Challenge'. Custom workouts, results, and related information can be taken online and uploaded to workout groups. EA seems to want to create a strong online community for 'Active 2.0'; there was talk of other applications for 'Active 2.0' such as custom workouts from celebrity trainers - nothing was ruled out. EA did confirm that all versions of the game will have some DLC, though nothing was specified.
The game was only about 50% complete at the time of the demo, and it wouldn't hurt EA to put a bit of spit shine on their new shoes. New workouts are still being added, and I'd venture to guess that something is being done to enhance the Gumby-esque visual style, but a few additional play tests wouldn't be so bad either. There seemed to be some difficulty for the EA rep in getting the Wii's sensors to recognize when she had executed a movement. Another thing to consider is that while the Wii demo was pretty cool, we didn't get a chance to see the PS3, iPhone, or iPod versions in action. EA still has a lot of fat to trim.
It was very clear that the 'Active 2.0' team was very proud of its product. Thomas Singleton, an EA rep, said "We're changing lives." Active's exercise philosophy seems rooted in a very vigorous training regimen. EA, I was told, is considering this a viable fitness product. The development team featured certified personal trainers who helped design virtual routines around real world movements. As the representative said, 'Active 2.0' blurs the lines between fitness and fun. Though the official release date is still up in the air, late November was tossed out as something of a target for 'Active 2.0' to make its debut. We'll soon see if it has enough of either to drive obesity rates down and sales up.
Leon Hendrix III
CCC Freelance Writer