The Best Exercise Games for the Xbox Kinect

Review of EA Sports Active 2 for Kinect

Posted by steve on May - 14 - 2011 with 0 Comment

EA Sports Active 2 for Xbox 360

Not a stellar first effort for the Xbox by EA Sports

After a long string of winners with the Sports Active franchise on the Wii and the Playstation 3, EA Sports doesn’t put its best foot forward in its port for the Kinect.

Rating by steve: 3.0 stars

ea sports active 2 for xboxEA Sports Active 2 has long been the best fitness game available on the Wii. It recently was released for the Playstation 3 and then for the Xbox 360.

Like the Wii and PS3 versions, the game comes with a heart rate monitor that you strap onto your arm, as well as a resistance band to use in some of your workouts. Unlike those versions, it does not come with motion-sensing controllers you put on your arms and legs. It uses the Kinect for motion tracking.

The game is also identical in many other ways. You can choose a 9-week program, consisting of a set of workouts four times a week. The workouts are not just random groupings of exercises, but carefully put together by a professional trainer to be increasingly progressive over the course of the nine weeks. Each workout set lasts about 30 minutes, and properly starts with a warmup and ends with a cooldown routine.

If your Xbox is connected to the Internet, you can sync your data with EA Sports’ online portal, just as with the Wii and PS3 versions.

Unfortunately, this game falters in certain aspects, each of which is directly related to its use of Xbox features. I realized that this could be the rare port where the game on the Wii is actually superior than what’s on the Xbox.

In what has become a trend on all these reviews, EA Sports has implemented yet another attempt at a motion-controlled menu interface. Like many other vendors’ attempts, it is practically impossible to navigate. Which once again leads to the question–why couldn’t Microsoft have just come up with one interface standard for everyone to use?

Another annoyance is that the use of the Kinect sensor is imperfect, to say the least. On the Wii and PS3 versions, your movements are tracked to amazing precision by using the arm and leg controllers. On the Xbox 360, they decided to forego the controllers and rely on the Kinect camera.

The problem with this is, the camera has a tough time tracking you with a variety of exercises, including squats, running in place, crunches or any exercise while lying on the floor. And if the system doesn’t detect you, you frustratingly need to contort yourself until you manage to find the right position the Kinect is looking for before proceeding.

Also, while most Kinect games require 6-8 feet of space, EA Sports routines require at least 10-12 feet for floor exercises.

Finally, I was a bit disappointed that, given the much more advanced graphics capabilities of the Xbox 360, that EA Sports decided to port the “cartoony” Wii-resolution graphics over. In future iterations, I would love to see EA Sports take realistic graphics such as in games like Madden Football and NBA Live to immerse exercise in “virtual reality”.

Bottom line, EA Sports Active for the Xbox 360 is that rare game on the Xbox 360 where the PS3 and Wii versions of the same game are far superior to it. I wish they had taken a cue from what Ubisoft did with Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and did a complete reimaging of the game from scratch for the new platform.