EA Sports Active Impressions

We get a run through EA's upcoming virtual personal trainer for the Wii.

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We've been curious to see EA Sports Active in action since the game was first announced. Whereas most of the fitness games that have followed in the wake of Wii Fit have stuck pretty close to the model Nintendo set, EA Sports Active is taking a slightly different route. The game is being developed to offer a more rounded fitness experience that adds lifestyle and nutrition as well as some accessories to the mix. We got a quick run through the game to get a feel for what to expect.

When you first start EA Sports Active, you'll be virtually greeted by celebrity trainer Bob Green, Oprah's anointed fitness guru, who'll pop up as you train to offer tips or general motivation. You'll set up a profile and enter information about your height, weight, gender, and fitness goals, which the game will use to calculate your progress as you train. The interface is divided into four sections: workout, nutrition, lifestyle, and other activity. Workout is the heart of the experience, with a mass of different exercises broken up into cardio and upper and lower categories. You'll be able to put as much or as little work into your regime as you want. The game will feature dozens of themed workouts, but you can also create your own customized workout made of exercises that you can tweak to different difficulties. As you adjust your regime, the game will keep tabs and show you what muscle groups will be getting worked on. The other sections--nutrition, lifestyle, and other activity--are a mix of surveys and data input that the game will factor in as it tracks your progress toward your goals.

The exercises themselves require you to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in tandem with the two supplied accessories: a resistance band and a special strap. As you go through the exercises, you'll be told when to use one of the accessories. The game is diligent about offering feedback--in the form of audio cues and voice prompts--to make sure you're exercising properly. If that isn't enough to keep you on the straight and narrow, it looks like just about everything has some kind of tutorial video if you need assistance.

We were pretty impressed by our brief time with EA Sports Active. There seems to be a lot of thought going into how it's going to work, and the mix of preset and customizable options should keep everything from being too intimidating. EA Sports Active is slated to ship this May. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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