Console peripherals tend to fail because not enough games use them, so their cost, for many players, isn't justified. Such has not been the case with the EyeToy camera for the PlayStation 2, which has seen a steady stream of games (and genres) since its release in 2003. In one of its latest endeavors, EyeToy: Kinetic, you use the camera to do a series of aerobic and anaerobic exercises either individually or as part of a 12-week workout program. Developed in conjunction with the fitness gurus over at Nike Motionworks, EyeToy: Kinetic offers a solid exercise experience that, if adhered to, will increase your overall level of fitness. The downside is that you will need to meet more demanding space and lighting requirements than with other EyeToy games, and the minigames used to facilitate the exercises never really stop feeling like work. If you want a good workout disguised as a game, then you're much better off with something like Dance Dance Revolution, which manages to create an aerobic atmosphere ancillary to the actual gameplay. But if you'd like to start a more legitimate exercise routine, one that works on fitness and toning as well as cardio, and you want to avoid the crowds and hassle at the gym, then EyeToy: Kinetic is a pretty good alternative.
Kinetic uses authentic exercise routines influenced by Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and an array of martial arts.
The key to EyeToy: Kinetic is the USB camera, which gives the game an edge over other at-home fitness programs by projecting your image onto the screen. From there, you can react to and interact with a number of different objects by punching, kicking, ducking, and weaving. Your success or failure at these activities is measured, tallied, and used to reflect your overall progress with the program. Some sequences, like the warm-up and stretch routines, merely place you on the screen adjacent to your personal trainer, so you can mimic his or her actions, although whether you choose to do these exercises or not isn't measured in any way.
One of the keys to the EyeToy camera use is the "full vision lens," an attachment that comes with the game and that can be placed over the camera lens to increase the field of vision. Unlike most EyeToy games, which deal almost exclusively with the upper third of the player's body, Kinetic, unsurprisingly, makes use of the whole thing. But in expanding the EyeToy's reach, the full vision lens also acts as a filter and contributes, in part, to one of this game's biggest weaknesses. All EyeToy games make some demands of your at-home setup, requiring a fair amount of indirect lighting and space to move around in. Kinetic's demands are much stricter, requiring not only the necessary room to move for your exercises, but that it be a specific distance away from your screen (about six feet). On top of that, it's more difficult to get the game to register your movement unless you are superbly well lit. It's in this way that using the EyeToy works against the game, since poor lighting and unspecific space requirements will make the game unplayable, unless you're in the mood for a redesign.
Assuming that you've got the proper setup for the game, you can choose one of two modes to design your workout. Routine builder lets you choose and perform any exercise available in Kinetic. You can select any number of exercises or any type, opt to add warm-up and stretching portions before and after your routine, choose one of a few different backgrounds to work out in, choose from a selection of background music, and also pick one of two personal trainers who will offer advice and encouragement along the way. While this is a good way to get to see the different exercises in the game, and is certainly not very demanding of your time, the routine builder is not nearly as motivating as the personal trainer mode, which follows the internal clock in your PS2 and provides a more strict workout regimen.