Things We Like
Complete Interaction: EA Sports Active is the type of game the Wii was made for. It's a fitness title in which your body motions are translated on screen. There is little to no button pushing necessary. When you run, jump, punch, kick or swing, you see your motion reflected on screen with uncanny precision. Nearly every facet of a gym membership is built into this game -- except for the ogling and meat-market atmosphere, of course. What sets Active ($59.99 retail price) apart from the competitors is the realism of a personal workout: This game will kick your butt, so don't take it lightly.
Take The Challenge: Upon creating and registering your character, you'll be asked to take the 30-day challenge by your personal trainer. Every day you get a different workout, which is nice to stave off boredom, with off-days built in for rest. This is the best way to get exposed to Active's impressive suite of features. You would have to pay a gym membership, personal trainer and nutritionist to get everything that is offered in this game. It's an all-in-one fitness program. You have a journal that logs your progress in all the activities, including calories burned and even your dietery habits (watch the sweets).
Any Way You Want It: There are dozens of worthwhile activities to choose from and to create custom workouts with, from basic walking and running to squats (ouch), lunges, bicep curls (with the resistance band accessory that comes with the box), rows, calf raises, leg raises
-- pretty much any calisthenic you can think of. The workouts are culled from four base groups: upper body, lower body, cardio and sports. Some of them incorporate the Wii Board if you have it. The real fun comes with the sports-related activities, with inline skating, boxing, baseball, volleyball, basketball and tennis drills available. The multiplayer mode allows you to compete against friends and family members, but you'll have to fork over another $19.99 for a second accessory pack (for leg starp and resistance band) to get the full complement of options for your co-player.
Personal Attention: Your on-screen trainer will make sure you get the form right. Hold that squat a second longer, tighten that curl, hold that lunge. If you deviate too far, the game will pause and politely remind you to get it right before moving on. And oh, that last repetition you just did? That didn't count. Do it again! A nice added touch is the video of a live human showing you the proper form prior to each routine the first time through. The video doesn't show up the second time, but you can recall it easily enough by holding the minus button down.
No Cheating: About 5 minutes into playing Active, I had a flashback to the old Power Pad on the original Nintendo. It didn't take long for most of us to realize we could just lay down and tap on it with our hands, since the alternative of real exercise was so unappealing. Well, good luck trying to cheat on this 21st Century setup here. Believe me, I tried. If you aren't willing to feel the burn, then don't sign up for this bootcamp.
EA Sports Active in action:
Things We'd Change
Learning Curve: The first couple of times you play there may be some frustration with figuring out the proper placements for the controllers and the leg strap and resistance band. Set it up wrong and you'll end up arguing with your virtual trainer a few more times than seem necessary.
Hoop Thoughts: The basketball activities can be glitchy, especially when you try to get your character to grab the ball off the rack after making a pass or basket. And sometimes you will grab and pass before you even move your controller at all. For the most part in the title, the movements on screen mimic yours very well, but glitches can pop up at times and take you out of your zone.
Lazy Time: How about some button-mashing mini-games for the lazy gamers among us who don't want to exercise? This isn't a real complaint here more than just random musings. How about, during a two-player setup while the wife plays, there's a split screen for us lazy menfolk to get our Space Invaders or Galaga on? Oh, you mean you want us to be exercising too? Ugh.
You can and will get in shape playing this game. The best thing that can be said about it is it's a perfectly fine substitute for another mundane trip to the gym.
-- Reviewed by Aaron Samus