EA Sports Active is a collection of keep fit games for the Nintendo Wii that will give Nintendo Wii Fit a run for its money.

EA Sports Active: Act Active

Having previously been a fan of the Wii Fit, EA Sports Active has changed everything. In a little over a month with the game, I can definitely sense a shift. My workouts are shorter, yet more vigorous. I'm using every muscle in my body throughout the course of 20 or so minutes without having to determine the right order myself. And even though the game is missing a few key features, I know that EA Sports Active will be my new main fitness tool.

Although they're a far cry from Wii Fit's Balance Board, EA Sports Active comes with a duo of fitness-focused accessories that are necessary to complete the exercises.

The flashier of the two is a resistance band (think a large rubber band that's been cut) that you attach to two grips. The band is then placed underneath the soles of your feet as you stand to provide a counterweight for arm and upper body strength activities like lateral raises.

The other item that comes with the game is a Velcro leg strap with a pouch on it for the Nunchuck. When engaging in an activity that utilizes lower-body movement like rollerblade jumps, lunges, or squats, the game senses the movement of the Nunchuck on your leg to make sure you've completed the rep. There is also Wii Balance Board support, but honestly, most of the exercises that use it aren't much better than the standard activities in EA Sports Active.

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EA Sports Active: Got No Game

The main difference between Wii Fit and EA Sports Active is that Active makes no bones about it - it's a workout simulator through and through.

Whereas you could play Wii Fit with a crowd as you tried to top each other's best score in soccer heading or tightrope, EA Sports Active's exercises are all fitness based activities you'd probably employ in real life.

That's not to say they're boring. Transitioning from track running, to resistance-based bicep curls, to rollerblading, and then to returning tennis serves would probably take ages if you were in a gym, but in Active, you'll get them done (along with a handful of others) in the time it takes to watch an episode of Family Guy.

EA Sports Active has to be commended for the way it presents workouts - while you can pick and choose your favourite exercises, the preset workouts flow very naturally so that you're not picking up and putting down the resistance band too often, and most provide a very balanced workout that will test your entire body instead of making one part sore.

The game's biggest draw is the 30-Day Challenge, in which you are served up 20 different workouts, increasing in intensity, over the course of a month. Whereas Wii Fit made you set arbitrary goals and offered little in the way of advice, the 30-Day Challenge offers up motivation via text and video encouragement and new exercises to keep you engaged.

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EA Sports Active is a collection of keep fit games for the Nintendo Wii that will give Nintendo Wii Fit a run for its money.

EA Sports Active: Feel the Burn!

The fitness element of EA Sports Active stretches far past the exercises - the game tracks many elements of your well-being via optional in-game surveys that collect information about your eating and sleeping habits, as well as outside-the-game physical activities, and offers advice based on the results.

There's also the ability to set your own personalised goals, as well as a wide variety of trophies to award you for various achievements throughout the game. As a fan of the Xbox 360 Achievement system, I have to say that adding micro-rewards to an exercise game is a genius idea. Getting a trophy in EA Sports Active is about ten times more gratifying than just about every Xbox 360 Achievement I ever unlocked. (Well, maybe not the one I got for getting a million points in Geometry Wars without dying.)

The only motivator missing from the game is a weight tracker a la Wii Fit. I'm guessing that Nintendo holds a patent that keeps other companies from using the Wii Balance Board to determine the player's weight. My advice: if you've got Wii Fit, download the Wii Fit Channel, and use that to keep tabs on your weight without ever needing the Wii Fit disc again.

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Besides the weight tracking issue, there are a few surface-level issues with EA Sports Active that could hopefully be addressed in the upcoming expansion pack. The horribly generic created characters in the game have very little in the way of customisation options and won't motivate you like your fellow Miis in Wii Fit (though we doubt Nintendo will license them for any other fitness games in the near future).

The music is similarly bland, filled with uninspired riffs across a variety of genres - an option to play tunes off your SD card would have been very welcome. The most troubling is a persistent issue of EA Sports Active keeping you stuck in painful poses like a lunge because you're not completely still (Wii Fit handles this problem better by continuing the exercise but not counting the rep towards your total).

But EA Sports Active has a great core - it will motivate you to work out and have you doing it the right way. Can you ask for any more in a trainer?

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EA Sports Active: Specs

  • Nintendo Wii
  • Nintendo Wii

OUR VERDICT

As a long-time Wii Fit user, it was going to take some serious effort to knock that game out of my fitness regimen. EA Sports Active, however, was up to the task, providing better exercises with an excellent user interface. I've been using EA Sports Active pretty consistently since it came out, and I can say without reservation that it's the best workout game on the market right now. If you've got a Wii and want to shed some weight, it's definitely worth purchasing.

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