The original EyeToy: Kinetic combined the motion-sensing technology of EyeToy with a holistic fitness regime that really worked - and now it has a follow-up in the (perfectly toned) shape of EyeToy: Kinetic Combat. Expanding on its predecessor's aims, Kinetic Combat provides a fresh workout, this time inspired by martial arts - and the results are certainly striking.
The art of Shaolin
It's worth noting that nobody should be put off by use of the term 'combat'. While Kinetic Combat does indeed allow you to take part in simulated sparring sessions, this title focuses on much more than just that, allowing for the expansion of your health and fitness regime while teaching some of the fundamentals of martial arts. The roots of the game rest within the ancient art of Hun Gar Kung Fu, a 17th century discipline used by Shaolin monks and offered in many modern exercise classes. Hun Gar is primarily used for increasing fitness, but also includes a range of kicking, punching and movement techniques that gives a total body work out.
As with the original Kinetic, instructors Matt and Anna can be selected to help you through a one-on-one fitness programme, along with a new martial arts specific trainer, Leon. The idea is that you follow your chosen trainer's on-screen moves, matching them via a traced body outline. Your mimicry is tracked by the EyeToy Camera, allowing the game to notice if you are performing a move correctly, and provide personal feedback on your performance.
With over 200 separate Hung Gar Kung Fu moves, the routine is separated into four animal styles; dragon (a gentle introduction), tiger (strength through cardiovascular fitness), mantis (agility and balance), and phoenix (a combination of all prior lessons). Once a specific set of moves is learned, Kinetic Combat tests you via a series of mini-games like hitting on-screen sensors using your newly acquired techniques, and sparring sessions against the relevant animal opponent. Each one comprehensively gauges your skills, forcing you to duck, weave and strike your way to a better grade.
An inexhaustible trainer
Kinetic Combat is wonderfully professional, and despite its relatively serious fitness slant, plenty of fun. There's plenty of scope to enjoy it in the way that suits you best, too: Personal Trainer Mode takes you through a 16-week fitness programme, Freestyle allows for a more custom-built workout, the Quick Play mode contains a number of one-off games that can be played competitively against friends and family, offering a less goal-oriented way of getting exercise.
It works perfectly towards providing something for those looking to increase their exercise routine, or just get fit without hassle. Kinetic Combat's interactivity and feedback options provide a more personalised work out than a fitness DVD, and there's none of the irritating predictability that comes with the typical exercise video.
EyeToy: Kinetic Combat ticks all the right boxes; it's deep, fresh, involving and teaches something that's not only fun but beneficial. Who says videogames are unhealthy? This should certainly change a fair few minds - and bodies - for the better.