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Dec. 18, 2012 - PRLog -- Parents are concerned that if their children play too many videogames they might start to resemble Mario too much, especially around the waistline.
Nintendo's latest gaming console addressed this concern with Wii Fit, a motion-based exercise game.

But recent research, published in "Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine," suggests that the Kinect for Xbox 360 might be the gaming setup of choice for sneaking a little physical activity into a child's life.
Nutritional scientist Mike Morris and his team from the University of Chester in England found that the Kinect's whole body movements led to greater physical exertion.
"From this early small scale study the data appears to show the Xbox Kinect raises [ONE'S]heart rate to a level that should bring about changes in cardiorespiratory (improvements in the heart, lungs and vessels) fitness," Morris told the Daily News.

The researchers monitored 10 boys and eight girls from 11 to 15 years old playing two Xbox 360 Kinect games: Kinect Sports Boxing and Dance Central. The games boosted their heart rates by 194 percent and 103 percent, respectively, over sedentary games. Their energy expenditure increased by 263 percent and 150 percent over resting values.

"The Xbox Kinect boxing game seems to produce slightly higher heart rates than previous studies have observed in similar Wii games," Morris said.
The reason for this difference lies in the controls. The Wii uses a handheld controller, whereas the Kinect for Xbox 360 uses full-body movement. The Kinect sensor device reads the gamer's physical actions and registers spoken commands, forgoing the need for a game controller.

Active videogames cannot replace exercise for a healthy, well-rounded routine but they can prove beneficial. "Although active gaming single-handedly cannot substitute for traditional outdoor play or sports," Morris said, "it may bridge the gap in the low physical activity levels currently being observed in children that has been linked to rising trends in obesity."

But aside from slightly higher energy expenditure and an elevated heart rate, there are no further proven benefits. "The next step in the research," Morris said, "is to conduct an intervention study to assess if these increases in energy expenditure and heart rate actually bring about reductions in body weight and increases in fitness levels."

War had become boring (at least in the world of video games.) So Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 decided to inject
a little bit of life.

It’s a grim reality. We’ve all played so many war video games that we know how this goes: there are dramatic set pieces and monstrous battles, and somehow, some way, your soldier and his band of followers rises above the chaos. Guns blare, and A.I. enemies fall, and it’s all so . . . normal.

But developer Treyarch tries to change that in Black Ops 2. Perhaps the most anticipated game of 2012, the latest Call of Duty game pushes the series into the future. And with that new timeline come new weapons, and a host of new ideas that push the military shooter genre to the next level. It doesn’t all work flawlessly, but between ideas and one spectacular narrative, this is easily the finest Call of Duty game ever made.

It starts with a brilliant campaign, the best you’ll play in a military-themed shooter. Missions jump between the present and the not-too-distant future, in 2025, chronicling the rise of a signature villain, Raul Menendez, in the past, and your efforts to thwart him in the future.

Aside from Menendez, all the characters fall flat, echoing the same tried-and-true hero phrases and simply playing to their archetypes. In some ways, the action never gives any character a true chance to blossom because this is easily the fastest-paced, most electric Call of Duty game in the franchise. Gone is the clandestine feel of the original Black Ops; it’s replaced by straight-ahead action and explosion. With a few rare exceptions, you’re always shooting something and your mind never has time to catch up.

That makes Treyarch’s move to add decisions to the story that much more important. You now have relative control over the story, making a series of decisions throughout the campaign. Some are complicated and noticeable– kill this guy or that one with the press of a button – but others are less obtrusive. Altogether, they blend with the story to
immerse you in the story more, lending replay value to your typically short C.O.D. campaign.

Other things add replay value too. You can now select a loadout for each level in the campaign, just as you would before a multiplayer skirmish. More and more weapons will unlock as you go, so there’s incentive to go back and play an old level, simply to see how you’d fare with a new toy.

It’s a shame that not all the weapons and gadgets have true punch. By and large, every gun and rocket has the proper impact, and the gunplay remains topnotch. But Treyarch also aimed to push the bounds of today’s current weaponry in Black Ops 2, and it’s here that things trip.

Treyarch worked hard to provide a realistic glimpse into the future of warfare, talking to military experts and trying to craft a unique war setting, and that leads to some interesting additions. Think of those sticky gloves for wall-climbing like the ones shown in “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol;" or jet gliders that can take you miles; or cloaks of invisibility, G.I. Joe-style.

The thing is, some of the new weapons are poorly explained. You’ll use those gloves, but the game doesn’t convey exactly how you’re supposed to use them. And then, once you seem to be in a groove, you’re done with them. The invisible camouflage, meanwhile, hardly works in battle. While certain additions (battle drones) truly enhance fighting and make this game feel futuristic, too many feel gratuitous, making you ponder the future of war, perhaps, but doing nothing to enhance gameplay.

Still, all the campaign additions reinforce that this Call of Duty game is all about evolution – for the series, not just for war.

Treyarch aimed to push the franchise forward, and by and large it succeeds. This campaign will hold your attention, despite those cardboard characters and other struggles.

And the multiplayer will keep you coming back for more, long after the campaign is over and done. A handful of game enhance Treyarch’s popular zombie modes, lending variety and making you think just a bit. But the star of this year’s multiplayer suite is the idea of league play.

Multiplayer shooters have long been inaccessible for some, but Black Ops 2 changes that. Play a few games to start league play, and the game will calculate your skill level. You’re then placed in a pool with like players. Standings will change, and leagues will be recalculated, but the overall effect is brilliant, leading to more balanced matchups, with fewer chumps and frequently tight results.

You can also simply face off against bots in multiplayer action if you choose to. Until you reach Level 10, you can earn hefty experience for doing so, too. Again, the aim here is to make the multiplayer action more accessible, allowing newbies to learn the general ropes and earn experience as they go before being thrown to the world of pro Black
Ops tacticians.

Zombies, meanwhile, are just as fun as ever. Treyarch’s two new modes don’t add that much to the genre (even though they try), but the core zombie-killing experience remains a joy.

The end result is the finest Call of Duty game so far, and a solid new direction for the franchise.

Treyarch does a nice job showing us the future of war.

It does an even better job showing us the future of Call of Duty.

Reviewed on Xbox 360
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