Although it wasn't one of the most popular games at EA's winter showcase event this week, EA Sports Active 2 is shaping up to be one of the publisher's most innovative titles of the year. The game supports a multitude of new technologies, including Kinect; ships with a heart-rate monitor; and supports online stats tracking across all platforms. We strapped up and sweated it out on the Xbox 360 version of the game to find out more.
As you'd expect, this sequel will expand the total number of exercises available to 70, and we got to play a few of them in one routine. In the first, we played as a goalie who had to save a series of oncoming shots on goal. The idea is to move around and use all your limbs to stop the balls from hitting the back of the net. In the next exercise, we were boxing--making jabs and hooks as instructed by the trainer. Again, the accurate body tracking meant we had to aim our blows precisely, squatting down occasionally to make lower shots on the punching bag.
Next up was cycling. We had to squat down to make the rider go faster downhill, jump to trick off of ramps, and run on the spot to power up hills. We really had to raise our knees during the running, intensifying the workout. As associate producer Gerard Recio told us, "There's no cheating anymore." The final workout was squatting with weights. The game can incorporate your own free weights into routines, and we had to hold them up in the air while squatting down to the floor. It was an intense but enjoyable workout, and a good taste of the variety to expect in the game.
The key part of the package, according to Recio, is the heart-rate monitor, which will keep track of how hard your body is working during each exercise. A weekly fitness test will track your various heartbeat levels and adjust the intensity of your program accordingly. All this data, such as heart rate and calories burned, can then be fed online to a holistic journal on the EA Sports Active website, which can be tracked against friends playing on the same platform. The game will also advise you of what it calls "bad, better, best" food choices, giving you some indication of healthier choices across the different food groups.
The game will launch on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii on November 19 in Europe for £79.99, and in the US on November 16 for $99.99. All versions will be bundled with the game, the heart monitor, and leg and arm resistance bands, while the Xbox 360 version will require Kinect to work. Look out for more info on the game on GameSpot in the run up to release.