Byline: Rob Waugh
Americans have much bigger houses than British people. I had to keep telling myself this as I tried out the camera-equipped fitness title EA Sports Active 2 (Xbox 360) **** - otherwise I felt like a failure for having such a small front room.
Xbox's Kinect sensor asks you to stand a minimum of 6ft from the television while working out, which meant I was plastered against the back wall of my modest living room, barely able to move. After pushing the sofa out of the way, I was able to bounce and stretch as instructed - it's just a shame no one has thought to tweak the sensor for a country where people's front rooms are not the size of car parks. The game doesn't work at all without the [pounds sterling]130 sensor.
Once you get Active 2 going, though, it's in a different league to rivals such as Wii Fit, with its unchallenging gentle stretches. Active 2, armed with a wristattached heart-rate monitor, is far more serious. The 60 exercises, different training programmes and two personal trainers - one for advice on eating - are a proper, well-designed fitness routine, and far easier to follow than most celebrity workout DVDs.
However, Kinect's video camera is great at tracking slower warm-up exercises but loses you occasionally in frenetic sessions, such as boxing. The sheer amount of charts and fiddling about also ensures it's a bit less efficient in terms of calories lost per minute than, say, pulling on some trainers and going for a run.
But if you do need a push when it comes to keeping fit, the variety of exercises on offer means this is a far better investment than most home gym equipment - and at [pounds sterling]60, much less liable to leave you bankrupt if it ends up gathering dust. …