Abarcy

EyeToy: Kinetic

On the face of it, using the EyeToy for a purely exercise-related game seems to be missing the point. Most EyeToy titles are supposed to be fun to play, and you benefit from the workout without being aware of the tedious process of actually exercising.

EyeToy : Kinetic bucks the trend by focusing entirely on fitness. The two main modes are Routine Builder and Personal Trainer, with routines that were designed with the help of Nike Motionworks. Routine Builder allows you to do any of the exercises whenever you want to, but Personal Trainer is the mode to use if you're serious about getting fit.

The big attraction for EyeToy : Kinetic is its personalisation features. Enter your age, height, weight, and usual activity levels, and it comes up with a 12-week schedule that should suit you. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced courses, and this setting determines the intensity and number of workout sessions. You have the chance to disagree with their initial assessment, so if you're heavy for your height because you bodybuild, for instance, then you'll probably want to change this.

The workout also adapts as you use it, so exercises get harder if you can do them well.

The course is well-designed, with a wide variety of exercises. Each session begins with a warm-up and ends with stretches. The personal trainer lets you know if you've been slacking off, and also warns you not to work too hard if it's a rest day. There's a real sense of being in good hands with this game.

The warm-up, toning and stretching exercises are not graded. Here it's just a case of imitating the trainer, and the only advantages they have over an exercise video are the ability to see yourself on screen and the fact that they're tailored to your fitness level.

The 12-week course gradually increases the intensity and duration of your workouts, so the bar is always being raised. If you begin at the right level you should always feel challenged but not overtaxed.

One or two of the games are so badly designed that they are unplayable. Wildfire, Equilibrium and Reactivate come into this category. They are hopelessly oversensitive to movement, but changing the camera sensitivity setting does not help. Perhaps these games would perform better under perfect lighting conditions, but if there's any visual noise whatsoever in your background then you don't stand a chance.

Fortunately there are plenty of activities that do work well, and if one that you don't like comes up during personal trainer mode you can always press "shuffle". This will randomly choose a new selection of activities for you for that session.

The graphics are good. Of course they need to be photorealistic so you can copy your trainer's movements accurately. There's also a choice of music for each set of exercises, or you can choose to work out in silence. Generally you don't notice the soundtracks because they're usually subtle, but the variety is reasonable.

EyeToy : Kinetic is surprisingly fun for such a serious title. Although there's nothing to unlock, there is a sense of progression as you go on to train at higher difficulty levels and try to improve on your personal best scores. Only a few badly-tested games mar what is otherwise an enjoyable and useful game, which is far more compelling than any fitness video.