Your Shape: Fitness Evolved Review (Xbox 360)
The library of Kinect games has not strayed too far from the obvious: mini-games, kids games and fitness games. Fitness games seem to be especially commonplace, so picking the right one can be difficult and is somewhat a matter of taste. However, I think Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will please many -- though not all -- fitness enthusiasts with its wide range of activity types and quick in-and-out style.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved takes a unique approach to in-home fitness, especially when compared to the competition. Instead of replicating any "real life" activity, like riding a bike or shooting hoops, this title focuses on pure fitness activities. Depending on your goals, you may be doing jumping jacks, stretches or dance-like aerobics. The game can also incorporate your own hand weights.
Your Shape also utilizes a "menu" approach to exercise. There is an option for a customized workout, but the menu text specifically encourages you to sample from the variety of activities. There are also packaged "lessons" such as cardio boxing. In addition, there are a couple virtual games that let you set and challenge scores. You can also work through a program targeting specific areas like toning or stress relief.
This "shotgun" approach worked for me. I found that I could easily take 10 minutes to work through one of my personalized routines, then spend another 10 to 20 minutes in a boxing class or playing a game. These bite-sized segments were much less daunting than a fixed 30-minute routine. If the time requirements of other workout games keep you from wanting to commit, Your Shape may be the answer. Still, the quick pace may work against more serious fitness buffs, as does the game’s certain level of predictability and repetitiveness.
Again, Your Shape skips any attempt at complete realism and offers heavily stylized environments instead. Your backgrounds are usually monochromatic tracings of a gym or city building; in the case of the workout games, your space is reminiscent of a Tron film.
The sleekness of the design is carried to your player model, which can best be described as a “you-shaped" blob of colored goo. There are some choices when it comes to color and design, and, overall, this style works. There are some nice effects as well. For example, you "dematerialize" if you leave the playing zone.
While your blue-striped ball of virtual liquid completes exercises, the game typically offers a grade for each activity. Your Shape not only senses the overall motion, but sub-motions as well. For instance, while you are completing a jumping jack, the game may detect and then determine you could move your arms a bit more. To score 100 percent, you need to correctly nail the overall movement and the indicated sub-movements.
This works well because the game is able to give specific feedback. Not getting your arms up high enough? Your in-game guide will let you know. It’s not going to make anyone forget about a real personal trainer, but it is the kind of feedback I predict we will come to expect in all Kinect products.
That said, sometimes it was frustrating to specifically compensate for the deficiencies noted, only to have the game not recognize the change. “Raise your arms higher” is specific, but perhaps “how much higher” would have been a bit more helpful. Besides this small issue, I had zero problems with the motion tracking in this game, and I generally found it to be a seamless and intuitive process.
Again, choosing a fitness game is in many ways about personal tastes. For me, this game, with its quick pace and varied activities, fits what I was looking for in an exercise game. I can see myself making it a part of my daily routine.
Others may argue that the activities are too quick, do not elevate heart rates enough, do not burn enough calories, are too predictable and do not allow enough warm-up/cool-down time. These are all valid criticisms. And, to be fair, there are only three different games, and the selection of classes is pretty limited (unless you are willing to drop Microsoft Points on new packages).
Still, I think for the busy professional or adult with a lot of family responsibilities, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved fits nicely into an already packed schedule.
Score: 6.5 (Above Average)
Learning Curve: Your Shape does a nice job introducing you to the motion-control system, and it is generally a stress-free experience.
Control Scheme: I had very little problem with the motion controls. However, space may be an issue for some of the activities. Also, BYOW: bring your own weights.
Visuals: The heavy amount of stylization works; it seems the game is admitting "I'm not going to pretend to reproduce something I can’t."
Audio: The targeted feedback is extremely welcome, but sometimes it’s just not enough. Music has an appropriate uptempo style.
Online Community: There is one, but it’s much less functional than I would have hoped. The website feels more like a page of advertisements, and the log-in system did not seem to work. An iPhone app had similar problems.
Multiplayer: While the workouts are only for one player at a time, the games can be enjoyed with up to four players.