'Pull tab to open', read the package from Sony as PALGN ripped open the review code for Eyetoy: Kinetic. And from what we'd heard, that wouldn't be the only exercise we'd be partaking in for the day. So it's another Eyetoy title for us to review, and this time with a nifty little gadget called a 'wide lens' attachment for the PlayStation 2, which allows for a wider range of view for the camera. To be honest, this is one of the hardest 'games' we've had to review, as it falls so loosely under the category of a game that we had trouble scoring the game. But we got there. Because, you know, we're great.
For the uninformed, Eyetoy: Kinetic is a fitness title that utilises the Eyetoy camera. Nike has assisted with the development of the game and the fitness moves, so all the stretches and activities are kosher. The game has been primarily designed as a fitness program, so previous fans of the Eyetoy titles may not be as drawn to this game as they normally are; you've been warned. However, that doesn't necessarily mean Kinetic isn't well worth your time.
Eyetoy: Kinetic allows players to choose between Routine Builder and Personal Trainer mode. The former is more of a 'quick play' option, and allows players to create their own routine. The workout is more casual and doesn't count towards your performance stats. The Personal Trainer mode is where players will spend most of their time, and is an intense twelve-week challenge. Yoiks. In Personal Trainer mode, players go through a number of activities to enhance their fitness.
At the beginning of the Personal Trainer mode, there are three questions that help determine the workout level for the next twelve weeks. In total there are three levels, ranging from 'beginner' through to 'expert'. After this is determined, the game asks the player some personal questions such as age, height and (most importantly) weight. The game also takes a photo of the player and then the player chooses either a male or female trainer.
After a short tutorial, we're in, and heading straight into the workout schedule for the twelve weeks. There are three workouts a week and players have the choice to do them over two days, or three for a weekend. Each workout contains a 'warm-up' session, three activities and a 'cool down' section, all of which can be undertaken in a choice of four venues, such as a Dojo or a scenic garden.
After an activity is completed (the game begins with a ten minute workout which leaves you - OK, us - exhausted), a graph is displayed that shows the progress through the workout. An information box also provides the player with a ranking, as well as a count of how many calories they have lost. This makes the game a lot different to your conventional weight loss video, and makes it a lot more interactive. The game made me significantly more tired than even the Eyetoy: Play titles, which is quite a feat.
The game has four main areas of discipline to choose from, and contains activities such as Tai Kwon Do, Modern Dance, Kick Boxing, Aerobics and Karate. There is also a mind and body zone which focuses on breathing, concentration and flexibility. The Personal Trainer mode allows players to fully customise their workout, and in total there are sixteen different routines to choose from, which offers a huge amount of choice.
We've normally been fans of the Eyetoy games because they are easy to pick up and play, yet this isn't the case with Kinetic, as it's tailored to last a lot longer, which is definitely a good thing. To get the full experience with Kinetic, you're actually going to want to go through the entire twelve week program. This lends the game an superb lifespan, and we can well imagine friends creating their own profiles and doing the workouts together, and then comparing their progress through the graphs. Aside from this, players can create their own routines or try and beat their pesonal best scores for each activity; this really is a 'rainy day' kind of game.
The role of the camera itself is to track player's movements and project them onto the television. Players can watch themselves working out during the activities. In the warm-up and cool down sessions players can see themselves, as well as their trainer doing the activities, with the screen separated into three. The wide lens attachment doesn't appear to make too much of a difference, but it helps for the camera to have a wider view of proceedings.
Eyetoy: Kinetic is one of the most bizarre games we've played all year. It's not that the game is trying to be weird, but it's just a completely different use of the Eyetoy camera, and one we hadn't thought of. Sony are demonstrating that not only are there multiple uses for the camera, but that the games created using the camera can be more than just a quick gimmick.
This year we've been treated to three Eyetoy exclusive games in Antigrav, Monkey Mania and now Kinetic. The two games that didn't just use the camera for quick-fired mini games have been the best titles, and have demonstrated the sheer potential of Sony's unique camera peripheral; after Kinetic however, quickfire mini games really won't cut it as much. It's worth mentioning that Kinetic isn't your normal Eyetoy title, but it's decent fun and helps you keep count of how many calories you're losing. And for those two facts alone, it comes highly recommended - indeed, you won't find a better game that'll prepare you for summer in quite the same way. Or winter if you're a European. Whatever. Just buy it.
Eyetoy Kinetic will be available on September 29th, for a RRP of $59.95 without the Eyetoy camera (but with the wide lens attachment) or $99.95 with the Eyetoy camera and wide lens attachment