Nearly six months ago, EA Sports Active came out and quickly became the highest-rated exercise game for the Wii. It wasn’t perfect, but offered a good amount of activities that actually helped burn calories and become more physically fit. Like any exercise program, sticking with it required work and dedication, but I found myself using it for months after I reviewed it. Eventually I started to get a little bored doing the same exercises over and over again, but luckily, EA Sports Active: More Workouts came along, seeming like a perfect solution. EA Sports Active: More Workouts is another great exercise option, with more activities and a fresh environment. Unfortunately, the issues that I had with the first game have returned, and More Workouts still hasn’t done enough to bridge the gap between game and, well, work.
If you have used EA Sports Active in the past, More Workouts will immediately look familiar to you, though the menus have been given a fresh coat of paint. It uses the same leg strap and resistance band, and if you don't already have them you can buy them separately for this game. You have the option of importing your profile from Sports Active into the game, which saves you the time of creating a character and having to input personal information. Most of the features have also been tweaked for this new experience. Instead of a 30-day challenge, More Workouts offers a six-week challenge with two dozen pre-set workouts, keeping track of the time spent exercising and calories burned over this period. Your diary will offer helpful tips on how to live a healthier life even when you’re not using the game, and there are new trophies to earn for completing certain objectives.
Most of the activities are new as well, which definitely helped me get motivated to work out once again. I’m no fitness expert, but I have found that I need some variety in order to stay interested in exercising. Though Sports Active was great, after a few months of cycling through the same workout playlists over and over, I found myself using it less, and using my exercise bike and lifting weights more. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, since the point of EA Sports Active is to make people more aware of their health and how to become more in shape, but it’s great to have the additional options provided by More Workouts. My favorite changes and additions were cardio boxing, which steps up the boxing in the last game with a lengthier, more intense workout; step aerobics, which surprised me by being more intense than it sounded, as well as being one of the more fun options; and the new track activities, which strive to make running less boring by adding “follow the leader”, racing, and short sprints.
Not all of the new exercises were good, though. EA Sports Active didn’t have any activities that focused on tightening stomach muscles, which seemed like a pretty big oversight. More Workouts attempted to rectify this issue by adding four abdominal exercises: curl ups, crunch and punches, leg raises, and reverse crunches. I had problems with the game registering what I was doing during all of them, and ultimately cut all of the ab activities out of my workouts. I may not be the most physically fit person in the world, but I can easily handle doing 100 or 200 crunches or sit-ups. I found myself struggling with these not because I was unable to complete them, but because the game wouldn’t keep up with my movements as I was lying on my back with the remote and nunchuk in my hands, as I was instructed to do. This was pretty frustrating, and when you’re in the middle of a workout, struggling with the game’s controls can really kill your motivation. The game not registering movement was one of the issues I had with Sports Active, as was being told I was doing something wrong and not understanding why. These two problems are related, but outside of abdominal activities, they don’t happen enough to be discouraging.
Another big addition to More Workouts is warm-ups and cool downs, the absence of which seemed odd in Sports Active. These simple stretches don’t require the remote and nunchuk, and simply have you follow your on-screen trainer’s actions in order to avoid cramps or muscle soreness. It’s just as effective as stretching on your own before working out, as I had gotten used to doing with Sports Active, but these extra activities do help the workouts feel more complete, as well as getting your body ready for exercise.
The real highlight of the EA Sports Active series is being able to create your own workouts from scratch. More Workouts once again gives you the option to select activities from the complete list and arrange them as you desire. Once you learn what works for you and what doesn’t, being able to determine the length, intensity, and content of your daily workouts will go a long way towards keeping you motivated; I know it certainly works for me. You can also edit or rearrange your workouts with ease, add balance board compatible activities, or even make a workout meant for you and a friend to do together. Since I’ve been playing More Workouts, I have been using my own customized workout more than the pre-selected exercises in the six-week challenges, and since I’m able to choose activities that are effective and enjoyable, the half hour I spend exercising every day doesn’t feel like a complete chore.
Graphics have never been the focal point of any exercise game, and More Workouts keeps the simplistic look of EA Sports Active, moving it to the beach. The locations all have tropical backgrounds, and instead of running on a track, you’ll run on sand. Truthfully, the backgrounds don’t have any effect on exercise, but I can’t really complain about a change of scenery. More Workouts has more clothing choices to customize your virtual character, but not a lot of options as far as hair and facial features, so making someone look like you might be close to impossible. Again, though, that doesn’t really make a difference in the number of calories you burn, and if you find the exercises effective, you won’t care what your on-screen representative looks like.
Ultimately, I can say the same thing about More Workouts as I did about Sports Active: it will absolutely help you become a healthier person, but you need to put in the work. There is no easy way out, and you’re not going to lose weight or burn calories if you don’t make the effort to actually exercise. However, if you take the time to find out what activities work for you, and create your own customized workout, EA Sports Active: More Workouts can be a great tool. With a diary to help keep track of your progress, and tips for eating healthier, lower-calorie meals, it really seems like this series could help gamers develop good, long-term healthy habits. I wish that some of the activities hadn’t been needlessly frustrating, and I hope EA can rectify this issue going forward with this series. I can’t predict how long I will use More Workouts regularly, especially with more competition in the genre arriving later this month with Ubisoft’s Your Shape, but for now, I’m going to keep it up.