Of all the Kinect launch titles Your Shape Fitness Evolved from Ubisoft doesn’t really sit in the ‘Game’ category and herald a new dawn in fitness software for the once gaming only machine. It’s probably safe to say the intention isn’t solely to get lazy gamers off their butts and jumping around their rooms, but more to appeal to audiences with an interest in simply getting fit without the hassle of joining a gym or stepping outside (especially as the colder months draw close). With various experts offering advice pre and post-production, it’s clear that the arrival of Kinect means an attempt to capture a wider audience to the Xbox 360. So, how does Your Shape stack up? Is it worth the investment, or should you stick with putting on the trainers and heading outside, or slapping in a far cheaper fitness DVD.
An unusual choice of words to describe the game, but one that’s being use regardless. Your Shape has a few modes of play to get you into your fitness groove. After you’ve calibrated Kinect, it’s a case of entering details about yourself in the ‘Personal Trainer’ part of the package. This includes, weight, height, gender and how often you exercise per week. Once you’ve entered these, you’re then presented with a number of options so as to determine what you want to achieve. If it’s more stamina, better body definition or stamina, or just simply having more energy, it’s all here for you to select. Once you’ve chosen your goal, a program of activities are formed to suit your needs. It’s clever and feels very much tailored to your own wants and desires, something a DVD couldn’t offer.
The activities on offer are varied, and with a plethora of different exercises to perform across a number of timed sessions, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the variety. The unique facet of the program is the way in which Kinect tracks your body movement and shows you moving on screen, again something a DVD or Wii can’t do. This is key to the success of the program as it means if you’re not doing something correctly, or you’re instructed to push a little harder on an exercise, the camera can see you and the program can then direct accordingly. There’s always an on screen trainer showing you what actions you should be performing and in this regard it’s like having your very own personal trainer in front of you, who constantly keeps you informed on how well you’re doing. During each routine, you can see an on screen display of calories burnt, which is certainly an added layer of encouragement. After each routine, you’re graded using a percentage scale and this is then added to an overall score, as are the calories burned. It’s a perfect way to keep track of your progression as you exercise over a number of days, weeks and months.
Aside from the the personal training activities there are also a few mini games to play for up to four players, these are welcome distractions, slightly less serious but still very good workouts. These range from punching and kicking blocks, to performing hoola hoop actions, balancing and such like. They certainly add a competitive layer to the program, even if you’re going solo and aiming to beat a high score.
The final options are Tai Chi classes and cardio boxing which allow for more than one person to follow. Whilst only the primary person is tracked, its design allows for others to participate as well.
The menus are all very clear and easy (ish) to use, with bright colours and a simple interface which anyone should be able to interact with. The speed of selection can be a little tricky at times, but not something that will hamper your routines. There’s very little navigation required overall, and once you’ve started a routine, then the only thing you need to do is focus on the task at hand. Perhaps the layout could have been a little more user friendly, but for all intents and purposes it works. Tracking is pretty much perfect, and the only gripe here is that some more variety and colour could have been used for the backgrounds. It’s all very white and primary colours in the most computerized of fashions.
You can choose to have a female or male voice to guide you through the program, and whoever is talking does offer an encouraging tone. Praising you when you’re doing well, and encouraging to do better when you’re not so good. Depending on the activity, there’s some soft music or high tempo beats which you perform actions in time to. If you’re not into high speed dance music, then you have to suffer it, but then again, there’s not really any alternative style that would fit. The up-tempo dance tracks do work well in context and it’s very easy to ignore the fact that you’re moving to dance beats due to how involving the program is.
The program can last as long as you want it to, and with a steady flow of achievements to unlock, the rewards other than improved body come thick and fast. The program tracks your progress over time and is something designed to be used constantly. In this conscious day and age, we need to take care of ourselves and this product is certainly a great way to do it. You will find a number of repeated exercises, but there’s enough content on the disc to keep things varied as you jump in and out of different routines.
Your Shape is an great showcase for fitness software on Xbox 360. There’s not been anything like it before so it’s hard to make any comparisons, or know where improvements could be made. There are very few niggles with one being the timing can be a little off on occasion where, the on screen trainer appears out of sync with the music and your rating lower than expected even if you’re performing the moves correctly. There could have been a few more activities, and certainly a lot more group games and activities but this is nit picking really.
If you’re serious about getting fit from the comfort of your own home, then Your Shape Fitness Evolved is very much the now evolution of the fitness DVD, putting you right into the program and steering you on to the path of super fitness and longevity. It’s a highly recommended piece of software and one that does a great job of showcasing Kinect’s ability to go beyond the game.