Xbox 360 Kinect and EA Sports Active 2

Will The Kinect Make Me Healthier? Week 4

The quest to get healthier via video games (specifically the Kinect) continues in this installment of our Kinect review series where we take a look at EA Sports Active 2. With a title like that, how can this game not provide health benefits?

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From the advertising and packaging, EA Sports Active 2 promises to be pretty much the complete package and everything that one would look for in a "get fit" title. Having had the previous version of this game on the Wii, I was no stranger to the format and was eager to compare the versions. The Kinect version offers the advantage of doing away with needing to hold or strap to your body the Wiimote and numchuck which is hugely welcome as the whole Wiimote strapped to the thigh is not terribly comfortable. This version does add an accessory strapped to your body, but thankfully it is only the heart rate monitor which is strapped to your arm.

This title, like the one for the Wii also comes with a resistance band. One big set up gripe is that unlike the Wii game, there were no directions for how to attach the straps to the resistance band. My first attempt at attaching failed and during a workout the band snapped and the result was painful. I had to look at the directions that came in the packaging for the Wii version of the game in order to properly attach the handles to the resistance band.

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In this title you can choose challenges that have various goals which you can set to different time intervals (ie a lose 5 lbs 30 day challenge). You can also just choose a workout program and get cracking without going through the challenge setup which is nice for when you just want to grab a quick session. I'm a fan of the challenges as I feel like they help me to stay motivated and keep track of when I should workout. The game play between the Wii version is similar with a few exceptions, one of these being that if you choose a workout program with days that you want to workout, you cannot start a workout on any of the non "workout days" which are programmed in when you choose your challenge. To start a workout on a non-workout day you have to change your entire program instead of the game just shifting your schedule to accommodate for this change like it does on the Wii version.

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Compared to the last fitness game I reviewed, The Biggest Loser, this title continuously offers a much more challenging, yet interesting workouts and is not insulting. There are plenty of activities and exercises to keep you motivated and the difficulty level is challenging enough to make you sweat and varied enough to prevent boredom.

As with the Wii version of this game, I HATE HATE HATE the resistance band. It hurts my hand and wrist and is so awkward to hold. Why is there not a "holder" of some sort made for this (other than the pathetic straps including with these games)? It is easily my biggest complaint about this series of titles as this band appears in all of the Active titles I have tried. I don't want to use the resistance band because it hurts my wrists which means by eliminating the band from the workouts I am eliminating all of the arm exercises. This obviously is not ideal and would be avoided if there was a better handle on the ends. Even as I type this review, my wrist still aches from my most recent 20 minute session.

The heart monitor does get in the way for some exercises that involve the resistance band, but aside from that it is not a bother and is nothing like the annoying Wiimote on the leg. The heart rate monitor provides data on your heart rate throughout the game and this level of feedback is quite welcome.

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This game had less trouble finding me when I was on the ground and surprisingly accurately counted every pushup. Oddly enough it did want more space away from the sensor and kept asking me to step back in any of the activities that involved jumping and running. I have a fairly large (NYC large) amount of space from my TV to couch compared to other 1 BR apartments in the city and if my living room cannot meet the demands of the device I know of few friends in this town whose spaces would. The more I use the Kinect, the more I come to realize that this is a product demands a suburban living room.

Bottom line, we'd definitely recommend this title for anyone looking for a good varied workout from their Kinect. Out of the various titles we have tried so far, Active 2 delivers the most fitness bang for the buck and is the one we keep coming back to when we want to get our blood pumping (in a good way).

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What has your experience been with EA Sports Active ? Do you know of a good solution for preventing wrist pain from using the resistance band?

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)

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Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.