EA Sports Active More Workouts Hands-On

We got ourselves warmed up for a look at EA's latest fitness game.

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Playing games has never been the most physically challenging of hobbies--sitting on a couch playing Halo for three hours is unlikely to burn off a huge number of calories, for instance. That all changed when Nintendo launched the Wii, a console that encouraged gamers to get off the couch and start flinging themselves around a room to play. EA Sports Active took this to the next level and introduced a workout regime for the Wii which combined a wide range of exercises and sports games with a computerised trainer. The game was a big success for EA, selling more than 600,000 units worldwide in a mere two weeks. Now, the publisher is gearing up to launch EA Sports Active More Workouts, promising a new beach setting, games, and an improved Challenge mode.

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Those familiar with the original game should feel right at home with More Workouts, as the menu system is nearly identical. The biggest change comes from Challenge mode, which now runs for six weeks rather than 30 days. The mode still sets you up with predefined workouts to help shake off those calories, but rest days are no longer preset, and you can choose when to take a day off from exercising. Another new addition is the circuit stage. This involves running around a virtual track and engaging in exercises at different intervals during the run. These range from simple squats to new abdominal exercises, which EA told us were one of the most requested workouts for the new game. A warm-up and cooldown session has also been added, which helps to alleviate any muscle strain.

We got the chance to try out the squash and boxing exercise games. Squash is one of the more difficult challenges, requiring a lot of body movement to hit the ball. To start, we had to strap the nunchuk to our leg using a provided leg strap. This helps to detect lunges, which are required to hit balls that are further away. The gameplay is relatively simple: A brightly coloured target appears on the screen indicating the direction you have to swing the Wii Remote to hit the ball. These alternated slowly to begin with, but got faster as we progressed through the training. Shots to the far left and right of the screen required us to lunge to the left or right. One thing that we noticed is that there isn't a way to cheat the game into thinking you're doing those movements, and it required us to perform demanding lunges in order for our onscreen avatar to hit the ball back. After a mere five minutes of play we could already feel our heart rate going up and strain in our legs.

The new abdominal exercises really test your physical fitness.
The new abdominal exercises really test your physical fitness.

Boxing concentrates on the upper body, and the gameplay is similar to squash. An onscreen trainer has boxing pads which light up indicating where to swing and whether you should jab or hook. Again, there was no cheating the game, and we had to really swing our arms for punches to be recognised. After sparring with the trainer, the game introduced a quick minigame which had coloured targets scrolling down the screen that you need to destroy with rapid punches. The action was suitably frantic, and our feeble attempts at quick one-two punches raised a few smiles from the EA staff watching us play.

With More Workouts, Sports Active now has a new beach setting and exercises that feature brightly coloured tropical backdrops. The graphics are nothing to write home about, but then that isn't the point of a game like this. The menus are easy to navigate, the action is easy to follow, and each exercise is clearly explained with a video demonstration before you start. Even though our time with the game was brief, we managed to work up quite a sweat and felt as though we'd actually had a decent workout. EA Sports Active More Workouts is due for release on the Nintendo Wii on November 20.

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