EA Sports Active 2ESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Interactive Exercise
Build in heart-rate monitor
New wireless motion sensors
New nine-week workout program
Track workouts and progress online through EA Active website
Wii Balance Board compatible
Regular readers of Game-Boyz will probably already know that I’m a big fan of the EA Active games. I also hate going to the gym. I hate the crowds, the smells, having to share equipment, people not wiping equipment and people that can’t be without their cell phones when working out. I was first introduced to Active at E3, 2009 and immediately started to use it as a fitness tool. What it did for me was amazing. As someone that has long suffered from a bad back, its focus on total body and core strength improved my back issues to the point where it would no longer prevent me from doing any activity I wanted. Needless to say my review scores for the first two games were right up there. I’ve since moved on from Active as my primary form of fitness but the series has also evolved and expanded to all the platforms. Read on for more details on what I think is the best fitness game available for consoles.
I’d like to say that graphics really don’t matter in a game like this but they really kind of do. The overall appearance of the game is fine. I found EA Active 2 more colourful than previous versions with nice environments where your on-screen character guides you through your exercises. Character models are marginally improved as well. I’ve said this about the previous games and I’ll repeat it here. Where EA Active shines graphically is in the animations. These are key so that you get a good idea of how each exercise is performed.
Not a lot has changed from the previous games. There’s a decent selection of generally generic sounding music. It can help with pace and cadence but I generally found myself ignoring the music and not really caring which type of music I had during a workout. EA Active 2 offers a strong amount of verbal feedback which is especially helpful. I’ve said the same about previous versions of the game and it is consistent with EA Active 2.
If there’s one genre that integrates motions controls the most seamlessly it is the fitness genre. Heck, the genre was launched because of motion controls. It’s simply a natural fit while too many games struggle to find a way to incorporate motion controls and feel tacked on.
The beauty of the Active formula lies in its balance of simplicity and depth. If you want to just jump in for a workout there are a number of preset workouts ready for you of varying lengths, difficulties and specialties. You can customize your own workouts or even take part in what is now up to a 9 week workout program. I highly recommend going this route.
Active has always tracked your workouts but Active 2 takes it to a new level by including a heart rate monitor with the game and excellent online integration onto their website. The web integration is fantastic as it tracks your progress against your goals online and allows you to join workout groups to share your information and help motivate you. This really is great stuff and a great evolution of the game.
While the first Active games used the Wii remote and nunchuk in interesting ways to track your movement, EA has improved things in this official sequel by including the already mentioned heart rate monitor and new wireless leg and arm straps to more accurately track your movement. These are used in conjunction with just the Wii remote. There’s no more need to use the nunchuck attachment. This is good news for people like myself that have a large wingspan as you don’t have to manage that cord between the Wii remote and the nunchuk any longer. Also, I found the sensitivity of the new set up to be superior in that there are far fewer occasions where movements don’t register. That said, I feel this is the area where the Wii version of this game falls short in comparison to the Xbox 360 version which uses Kinect. Having to hold the Wii remote in one hand limits what you can do to a certain extent. Yes there are weight accessories that integrate the Wii remote into the handles but they generally aren’t heavy enough for anyone looking for a more intense workout with heavier weight.
While the game comes bundled with a resistance band, I highly recommend going to a fitness store and getting a proper band. This is a must for those looking for that more intense experience and helps to remedy what I mentioned previously. Don’t cheap out and get the $10 one from Walmart either. It will break, often violently in the middle of a workout. Spend the extra to get a proper band (the ones with material around the latex tube). It’s money well spent and will help to prevent those breaks.
While it isn’t mandatory, EA Active supports the Wii Balance Board. If you have one, it’s a no brainer to use it as part of your workout. There are step accessories available that can add intensity to your workout as well. Just make sure that they’re stable.
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