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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Preparing for the Pain. The Setup

Well with only a weekend left to use and abuse my body (minds out of the gutter folks) I thought I would get the game read to rock for my first workout on Monday. Booting up the disc (and going through the familiar PS3 game update) I was greeted by a cheery welcome video that outlined the features of EA Sports Active 2. An enthusiastic presenter informed me that I would be able to get a beneficial workout that would improve my health while I had fun. A lofty and noble goal to be sure, but is it the truth?

Once I had been taken through this introductory video I was greeted by the setup screen. Here I was asked to set up my on screen avatar with weight, height and age all being important factors. I encountered my first hurdle, Imperial measurements. So with a quick google search for a conversion calculator I was able to enter my height in feet and my weight in pounds (Which I am not putting up here yet. That shocker is for Monday.) So with my dimensions in I got to select what I would look like on screen. This is a fairly typical character creation tool and while not as comprehensive as other EA sports titles there are still enough options to be able to create a fairly good representation of yourself on screen.

So far so good, the only challenge encountered so far is seeing how much I actually weigh in big bold letters on the screen (while the physical pain is minimal the mental traumatisation is something I may need intense therapy to get over). Now comes setting up the motion sensors and heart rate monitor. A tutorial video walks you through the process for the first time making the process so simple even my father could do it (maybe). So with one sensor on each arm and one on my leg I was ready to go. Surprisingly the sensors were quite comfortable so they shouldn’t be an annoyance in the more intense workouts ahead.
All the doodads and thingymagigs that come with the game.

All this has taken 20 minutes or so, which is a fairly significant time to setup a game but it is clear that the developer wanted people to take this as a serious fitness program and have presented it as such. They are making sure that users take the time to customise their experience ensuring the best possible results are achieved. I must say the whole thing is quite impressive (especially when compared to other fitness programs such as Wii Fit and the first Sports Active). Colour me optimistic, this may actually work.

The final step in the process is selecting my fitness coach for the 9 week challenge. I have two options. A Male coach (with an appropriately manly name like Bruce or something) that specialises in strength and conditioning and a Female coach (Can’t remember her name, lets say Vicki. Seems like a good fitness trainer name) that specialises in Fitness and Cardio. As I am a fat bastard I went with Vicki in the hope that she can help me trim the keg currently residing around my waist.

So with the setup completed I have finally reached the main menu so it is time for a little exploration. Heading over to the options menu I find I can change the measurements to metric (Which saves a lot of dreaded math time I am here for the physical workout not a mental one.) I also found another interesting feature. The ability to use custom soundtracks in your workouts. I got a little excited at this point. The thought of having to listen to 9 weeks of generic techno pop was one of the things I was dreading in the challenge. Now I have the ability to burn fat to Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold and not have to try and stay motivated with repetitive beats or bad midi tunes.

My first experience with this game has been incredibly positive.  What I have been presented with is a professional product that obviously takes its intentions seriously, but good intentions and great presentation does not equal results. So with my path laid and ready to walk I am actually looking forward to the start of my 9 week test. Monday is the first day of working out and this is sure to be an interesting journey if not a productive one.

There is a good chance this will be me in the not too distant future

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