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EA Sports Active More Workouts

Second wind.

The latter is a great addition, providing variety within a single event. You run between gates, stopping at each to perform a different activity on the spot, like lunges or (the surprisingly fun) skipping. Running in the original Active became a chore, not least due to the narcoleptic visuals, so any variety is a boost. (Incidentally, the cycling in Wii Fit Plus is a great example of how Nintendo's 'stealth exercise' trickery can counter the essential boredom of running on the spot).

There are 35-odd new exercises in total: balance board owners get stuff like step aerobics and press-ups, while Active staples like cardio boxing have evolved into something altogether more engaging.

I despise sit-ups. Even during the periods in my life where I've been a regular gym goer, I'd sooner share a sauna with a LAN party than rock backwards and forwards on the floor 'crunching'. Newly included ab exercises are EA Sports Active at its best: encouraging and motivating you to do the things you've spent a lifetime dodging.

As I write, there is a profound ache rippling through my abdominal area from the 20-minute high intensity ab session I nearly killed myself with yesterday. It's inconceivable that I'd do that without my unremittingly cheery virtual trainer chirping instructions and words of encouragement. This is precisely why these products work.

Leg raises - lying down, legs straight and parallel, lifted slowly up and then down without touching the floor - are remorselessly, savagely brutal. If you've tried the first Active, think 'jumping squats' levels of burn. Accordingly, the sense of achievement afterwards is epic.

Active's strongest single feature was the 30-Day Challenge: a month-long fitness programme skilfully deploying just the right balance of carrots and sticks to urge the user to stick at it with the promise of real improvement.

Can't think why they don't use clinically obese male gamers in these photos.

In More Workouts this becomes the 6-Week Challenge: it's longer, obviously, and more varied, but the goal remains the same. And being able to plan ahead and choose rest days (Monday: workout; Tuesday: McDonald's; Wednesday: 10 pints of Stella, etc.) makes it easier to adhere to. Making a pledge to yourself and the game is psychologically powerful and you will be compelled to avoid the guilty pangs of a skipped session.

While it's a more rounded experience than before, many of the same issues remain. The resistance band is still useless for blokes, and you will need to purchase something better to reap any notable benefits. Furthermore, the journal remains a half-hearted affair, offering very basic diet tracking and nutrition factoids, and never really approaches being the useful tool it could and should be.

The game's ability to detect motion from the controller is also still hit-and-miss at times, particularly in registering the nunchuk when it's slotted into the leg-strap, though in general it acquits itself very well. MotionPlus is a clear opportunity to enhance the experience and really ought to be supported next time around.

A man pretending that the resistance band is actually of use to him. It's all lies.

Should you buy it if you already own the original? Retailing at 25 to 30 quid, it's hard to justify such an outlay for content which on PS3 and Xbox 360 would surely be offered for substantially less as DLC.

It is, however, clearly a better-rounded experience than its predecessor, so is the obvious first-timer choice. But bear in mind it doesn't come with the resistance band and leg strap this time, which need to be purchased separately, adding another 15 quid to the asking price.

It can't engage and enchant groups in the way Wii Fit does, nor does it attempt to. But as I said the first time around, if you are serious about improving your fitness levels and have neither the inclination nor the funds to join a gym, Active is currently the best of its kind.

8 / 10

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About the Author

Johnny Minkley avatar

Johnny Minkley

Contributor

Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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