LOS ANGELES--EyeToy: Kinetic was one of the most unusual titles present at Sony's pre-E3 event today. Not a game so much as a virtual fitness center, Kinetic will allow you to custom-configure a workout suitable for getting in shape, losing weight, or toning muscle, all at your own pace. It'll monitor your progress and help keep you motivated through interactions with one of two virtual fitness trainers. We got a chance to try out a bit of EyeToy: Kinetic for ourselves, which effectively got us sweating and feeling altogether uncomfortable amidst all the other people in the room. More importantly, however, we came away quite impressed with what else we learned about this title.
EyeToy: Kinetic isn't the first video game-fitness center hybrid, but it seems to be attempting to do more than any other such program in the past. Specifically, it will use the EyeToy peripheral to project your image onto the screen, so it can actually track your activity and motion. The title will also ship with a special wide-angle "full vision" lens (seriously--yeah, no, stop laughing), which will allow you to capture a full range of motion onscreen. EyeToy Kinetic, which is designed "for all fitness abilities," will also take advantage of the PS2's internal clock to keep you on a regimented 12-week workout. Miss a date? Expect to get an earful from one of the game's virtual trainers. Supposedly the difference between the trainers will be mostly superficial, but Sony reps suggested that the male trainer would be the more gung-ho of the two, while the female trainer would be a little more reassuring.
We tried a little workout session with the male trainer, in which we needed to beat back punching bags extending toward us from the four corners of the screen. This could be accomplished either through precise punching and kicking or wild flailing...either way, it's calories burned. The three-minute exercise was actually fairly intense as the punching bags started coming at us faster and faster. Meanwhile, the male trainer kept on yelling fitness trainer-style platitudes, enticing us not to throw in the towel.
EyeToy: Kinetic will feature exercises across several different disciplines, in such categories as cardio, combat, toning, and mind & body. The latter one will include meditation and yoga and so forth, so not all of Kinetic's activities will be pulse-pounding and frenetic like the one we tried. Several different training environments ranging from a dance studio to a Zen garden should also help ensure that Kinetic appeals to pretty much anybody open-minded enough to try to reconcile their addiction to gaming with their need for exercise.
The title was still pretty early along, based on what we saw and played, but it definitely seemed and sounded promising. Considering the couch-potato stigma that's commonly attached to gaming, if nothing else, we think a few more video game releases along these lines could help demonstrate that gaming needn't be an unhealthy exercise. And EyeToy: Kinetic is surely going to be cheaper than a gym membership.