EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp First Impressions

Tackling dummies and doing wind sprints are the order of the day as EA whips you into shape for the NFL Scouting Combine.


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The EA Sports Active franchise has carved out a successful fitness-focused niche on the Wii, motivating players the world around to take the remote and nunchuk in hand and work up a sweat. While previous games have been about general fitness, the latest entry in the Active roster boasts a more specific theme and the official license of a professional sport. With EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp, EA is planning to put you through the paces that aspiring athletes go through to get fit and ready to compete in the NFL Scouting Combine. If you're looking to improve your 40-yard-dash time, this may be the game for you.

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One of the major differences in this iteration of the EA Sports Active franchise is the new total-body tracking system. Ditching the nunchuk and its cumbersome cord, this system uses the remote in conjunction with two new sensors. One sensor straps around your thigh and features an accelerometer, just like the remote. The other goes around your arm, where it can track your heart rate. With these three sources of input, NFL Training Camp can track your movements in a number of different ways, giving you the feedback you need to have a more efficient, more effective workout.

As expected, the workouts in NFL Training Camp are similar to what you might find NFL players doing. In fact, EA consulted with a number of different professional trainers from around the NFL in order to create a variety of workout regimens that they then combined into the 60-day challenge. This is the campaign, the career mode, and the main endeavor when it comes to NFL Training Camp, and it's aimed to target the skills and stamina you'd need to succeed in the Scouting Combine (actual Combine success not guaranteed).

During the demo workout we saw, the player went through a number of different exercises without much of a break in between. He started off alternating between running and sprinting in place, pounding his legs up and down as fast as he could. While he did this, the voice of the in-game trainer told him that he would need to keep his legs moving all the time if he hoped to get through the defensive line and break tackles. He then took on another running exercise that challenged him to sidestep and extend his arm in order to quickly dodge tackling dummies. Again, a voice-over put his actions in the context of actual football, though it was pretty easy to see the application in this case.

Those exercises focused on agility and aerobic stamina, while others worked on dexterity in the guise of skill challenges, such as kicking field goals and throwing footballs at moving targets. We also saw a few strength-training exercises, including hammer curls that used the included resistance band. We were told that each workout was aimed to come in around the 20-minute mark, with time built in for warming up and cooling down. With many of the exercises chained together by jogging and other aerobic activities, it was clear that NFL Training Camp will provide a vigorous workout for those interested.

Like EA Sports Active, NFL Training Camp also tracks statistics to help motivate you to improve your performance. Graphs representing calories burned and median heart-rate levels provide valuable feedback, but in a nice nod to a gamer's motivation, you will also earn points and achievements for your workouts. Not only can you compare these against the athletes in your house, but you can compete with the times posted online by the people on your friends list. Additionally, NFL Training Camp is hoping to capitalize on fan loyalty by creating public groups tied to NFL teams. By declaring your fandom, you can contribute your workout stats to represent your team online. Now all that remains is to see which team has the fittest fans (or at least the hardest working).

With its focus on football and connections to pro trainers and teams, NFL Training Camp is charting new ground in the burgeoning fitness-game genre. The workout style and competitive elements give the game a unique feel, one that just may entice previously reluctant gamers to get off the couch and work up a sweat. You can look for EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp to hit store shelves just after Week 10 of the regular season on November 16, 2010.

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