EA Sports Active: More WorkoutsESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Wii Balance Board Support
Two player support
Includes book excerpt from Bob Greene’s “The Best Life Diet”
Requires Wii Remote and Nunchuk to play
I’ll admit it right up front; I am a big fan of the EA Sports Active franchise. I’ve found it to be, by far, the best fitness game experience for me out of all the games I’ve tried. Just six months after the release of the original EA Sports Active we get another one in the form of EA Sports Active: More Workouts. Is it necessary given the time frame? Does it fix the issues that the first game had? Will it meet my high expectations as someone that has used, and benefited from,the first game? Read on to find out.
EA Sports Active: More Workouts sports an enhanced its look over its predecessor with cleaner looking, more detailed characters and a new tropical island environment. The island environment features some decent water effects. These features really don’t add a ton to how the game plays, but the new look is welcome especially if you are like me and have spent considerable time with the first game. More important perhaps are the animations which are excellent. Both your character model and that of the trainer are large and smoothly animated. This helps to ensure you are making the correct moves and have the proper hand positions.
Many of the original game’s music tracks return and feature the same degree of enhancements as the graphics. They are improved but they are nothing revolutionary. There is a good mix of types of music and I personally found all of the tunes enjoyable. One criticism I must make about the music is that it now can get in the way of the audio cues during each exercise. These cues are slightly less distinct now and I found myself missing them from time to time.
What’s most impressive about More Workouts, and the EA Sports Active franchise in general, is the dialogue from the trainers. They are constantly providing verbal prompts during all exercises and workouts. They’ve taken things just a bit beyond saying “good job” and often offer hints to proper posture and breathing during exercises as well as some talk about the benefits of doing it. It may not stand out but it is this extra attention to detail that really impresses me about these games.
EA Sports Active does a better job than any other fitness game at replicating what I’d imagine an experience with a personal trainer would be. While many preset and custom exercises/workouts are available, the core of the game is its Six Week Challenge. Longer than the 30 Day Challenge in the previous game, the new Six Week Challenge spreads 24 workouts the time frame compared to 20 workouts in the 30 Day Challenge.
What separates EA Sports Active from all other fitness games is its innovative use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in combination with the unique leg strap. By placing the Nunchuk in the leg strap, the movement of both arms and legs can be monitored. This makes for more precise monitoring of body position and lessens the potential for cheating on movements. That is not that I think people buying and using this game would truly cheat, what’s the point?
Exercises and workouts each have three intensity settings. Having completed the 30 Day Challenge twice on the hard setting in the previous game, I was surprised at how hard the new exercises felt at first. It was to the point where I thought I better change the difficulty to medium, but after the first few workouts I did get more used to it. This game will make you sweat, believe me.
While it is priced at $40, this version does not ship with the leg strap or resistance band. If this is your first EA Sports Active purchase you will have to get the accessory pack for $24 bringing the total price of the game up to par with other new titles. Those looking for a more intense workout will definitely want to head to the sports store or a Walmart and get a proper resistance band. The one that comes with the game, or accessories pack, wasn’t nearly strong enough to deliver ample resistance for most exercises for me (I am a pretty physically active guy that’s 6’2” and 220lbs for reference).
So, what’s different from the first game? First of all you can now use the Wii Balance Board to measure your weight. It was beyond me why the first game supported the Balance Board but didn’t allow you to monitor your weight with it. It not only makes tracking your fitness stats far easier, but the game also prompts you for weekly weigh-ins. Secondly, you can now adjust and edit, on an ongoing basis, which days you want to work out to accommodate to your schedule. No more strict “two days on, one day off” type of thing. I found this extremely helpful when trying to schedule my workouts into a busy schedule, although changes to your schedule only take effect in the next week. Every workout begins with a warm up and ends with some abdominal work and a cool down stretch. So far, I haven’t seen much variation in the warm up and cool down but I’m finding them welcome additions, especially the cool down stretches which really seem to focus on the muscles around your core. There are several abdominal exercises that utilize the leg strap and Nunchuk to monitor leg position and count reps. This is another example of EA finding innovative ways to utilize the Wii’s motion controls. The game still has some instances where the positions of the controllers aren’t properly recognized, but I’ve found this to be less of an issue than in the first game though.
Beyond the exercises, More Workouts again features daily activity and nutrition surveys which contribute to a daily medal score for the player. You are encouraged to fill in these surveys even on non-workout days, but it’s not 100% necessary. The nutritional survey in particular has been enhanced with more detailed questions and now offers text suggestions to help you with your scoring. It is simple but yet effective. Goals return unchanged as well. For those new to the EA Sports Active franchise, the game allows you to set goals for calories burned, number of workouts. and time working, out all measured over your choice of time.
Ok, the real question: "Does the game work?" Of course, any training methodology is only as good as the input you put into it. Having used EA Sports Active since June as my primary form of working out at home, I have noticed a distinct increase in my core strength and muscle tone. As someone who has historically suffered from a bad back, this increase in my core strength has decreased my back pain to virtually nil and restored my ability to play sports without fear of injury. As a casual league hockey player I have noticed a noticeable improvement in my endurance and I’m also winning a lot more races for pucks. Combining the EA Sports Active games with a proper diet (personally I’m a fan of Weight Watchers) has also resulted in a noticeable weight loss for me too. So, to answer my own question, yes it has absolutely worked for me and definitely does work better than any of the other fitness games I’ve tried. In terms of More Workouts, the improvements make it an even better training tool then the original and the exercises are very effective.
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