Tuesday, December 07, 2010

EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp (Wii)

Against my better judgment, I bought this workout program two weeks ago because Eli 9.4 was interested in trying it out.

I fully expected it to be crap.

Instead, it's EA's best use of the NFL license in years. It's an excellent workout program, the NFL integration is spot-on, and it's fun.

After months of playing games I'm supposed to like and don't, it's a real pleasure to find a positive surprise.

Okay, so this is how NFL Training Camp works. The first time you start the game, you create a character. The customization options for your character are complete crap, but thankfully, that's one of the very few areas that aren't fleshed out properly.

There are two sensors you wear--one just below your elbow, and one on the opposite thigh. With them, your position is sensed as well as your heart rate.

We decided to go with a pre-set program and started the "60-Day Challenge." This is a two-month series of workouts (four a week) that are getting you ready "for the draft."That's right--at first, you're just a lowly seventh round draft choice, but as you complete workouts successfully, your stock rises.

Needless to say, Eli loves this, and it's fun for me, too.

For each workout, you can pick the stadium (all NFL stadiums are available) as well as your training guide (10-15 players from each team are available). I also found that if you let the game select the location, it will automatically give you a different stadium each time, which is a nice touch.

The workouts themselves are solid. We're both working out on the "Hard" setting, and if you make an honest effort, you can get a nice workout. There are traditional football drills (foot fires, for example) as well as strength-building exercises using an included exercise band. Plus, there are positional challenges, where you go through catching/throwing/kicking drills.

For a workout program, it's quite entertaining, and the NFL setting makes it more interesting. Each workout is different, depending on what's being stressed that day, and new exercises are slowly added as you progress.

Both Eli and I are on the third week of the 60-day program now (ten workouts in), and it's very funny to see how seriously he works out. He wants his form to be just right in the exercises, and he works hard.

I've been working hard, too. My chronic Achilles tendinitis has really reduced my fitness level in the last two months, so I needed a program to help me get my base back, and this is just right. Like I said, with an honest effort, this is a good 30-minute workout, and it's fun, so it doesn't get boring (or, at least, it hasn't gotten boring yet).

Negatives? In a few exercises, the sensors seem to have a difficult time detecting your position. However,it's easy to just pause the program, do the reps, and then "skip" that exercise. You still get your work in, but you don't get credit from the program for having done that particular station. In a 30-station workout, though, that usually only happens once or twice, so it's manageable.

As an exercise program, NFL Training Camp deserves an "A." It's easy to use, it's interesting, and it's a solid workout. There is a degree of polish that I absolutely did not expect, and it's a shame that this program is getting so little attention, because it deserves a much higher profile.

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