Your Shape: Fitness Evolved in the best fitness game I’ve ever played. It’s not a gimmick, it’s a genuine fitness program that has the potential to revolutionise home fitness. While it hasn’t been perfected yet, and isn’t a replacement for the gym, it’s the next best thing and the leader in home fitness games. It’s a serious option for anyone looking to improve their fitness, tone, body shape or lose weight in the comfort of their own home.
What Your Shape Got Right
A genuine fitness program – While it’s no complete substitute for the gym, with dedication players will see actual results within weeks. Let’s face it, most people looking for a video game to improve their fitness aren’t going to be elite athletes. They’ll work up a sweat in no time, and perhaps even gain the confidence to progress to the local gym.
For all types of fitness – Your Shape caters for all fitness levels. Even relatively active people will get a decent workout, and weights can be introduced to some classes (either the official light ones, or something more manly) for a more comprehensive fitness regime. Gym junkies will probably scoff at the idea, but Your Shape isn’t for them. It’s for people who either can’t get to the gym due to lack of time, money or motivation. As a relatively cheap solution, pending you already own a 360 with Kinect, in the comfort of your own home, Your Shape delivers the goods.
A tailormade fitness plan – Your Shape takes itself seriously, without the gimmicks of Wii Fit or other health titles. It begins by scanning your body and asking your weight. This allows it to form an ingenious menu system around your body. Options are selected using your hands as per usual, but the buttons are placed strategically based on your measured arm span; it makes everything so much easier and helps to unify your room and the fitness centre of Your Shape. From there, it enquires about what you want to achieve. Do you want more energy, fitness, to lose weight, tone up or build muscle (requires weights)? The selection can be changed at any time, but it’s great assistance to fitness newbies who mightn’t be quite sure how to achieve their desired goals.
Kinect is watching you, don’t slack off! – Your Shape constantly reinforces the need to do each exercise correctly. In personal trainer mode, you are on a mat connected to your trainer’s. If you fall out of time with them, the connection between the two is lost and you are not credited for whatever happens until you re-sync your movements. If you fall a little bit behind, like slacking off with your squats, a voice over will yell at you to get down and do it properly. While it’s not a commando hardass, for a virtual trainer it does a great job keeping you inline.
Visual progress – Your Shape is great for anyone looking for a little at home fitness, but it’s clearly targeting those who want to lose weight with the calorie counter in mammoth sized font on every screen. That will probably make it more attractive to female players, as will the lack of push-ups or any ground based activity, but there are programs designed for both men and woman; they include some licensed from Men’s Heath and The Biggest Loser Australia trainer Michelle Bridges.
Other game modes – Fitness Classes and Gym Games offer variation outside of the core training. The former includes Boxing and Zen out of the box, as well as several other options as DLC. Both are relatively simply and easy to learn. Zen is essentially some type of Pilates and Yoga concoction, and seem close enough to what I imagine are the real techniques, without having been instructed in the arts. The Gym Games introduce multiplayer. Up to four people take turns in mini-games, trying to achieve the highest score. While fun, they don’t possess the same fitness benefits as the single player options.
What Your Shape Got Wrong:
Kinect teething issues – Your Shape is up there with Dance Central as the best use of the technology to date, but it’s still riddled with teething issues. The routines are based on you following the instructor flawlessly. Sometimes Kinect doesn’t pick up your movements fluidly and you aren’t credited for the exercise. Likewise, determining your fitness level from the outset is critical to how useful Your Shape will be to each player. Unfortunately, you need to have a rough idea of your own fitness level, as Your Shape can take a few goes to get it right. If you know it’s wrong – if you run 30 kilometers a week and it labels you as a cardio beginner – simply retake the test and it should rectify the problem. However, that’s not an option for people who might be borderline or don’t really know how fit they are – after all, people tend to lie to themselves to make their new year’s resolution seem that little bit closer.
Inconsistent Kinect recognition is a serious issue, but one that can hopefully be fixed for the sequel. Generally, most problems can be solved by tuning the Kinect sensor or by facing the cameras at a slightly different angle, but these are the last things you want to worry about amidst a serious workout.
Missing exercises – Despite being the most comprehensive fitness game on the market, Your Shape comes up short by omitting some key exercises that are ideal for your loungeroom. There are plenty of lunges and squats, but a lack of push-ups and crunches. Admittedly these are harder to demonstrate correctly, and the last thing we want is gamers injuring themselves due to incorrect techniques, but for otherwise very in-depth fitness games, it seems odd to leave out some of the classics.
It can be too harsh – After you complete a set routine or even an individual exercise, Your Shape will rate you based on stringent criteria. While it does a great job, as an artificial trainer, getting you to perform the moves correctly, it’s only really of help if you’re being slack. It’s very difficult to get 100%. When you perform seemingly perfectly, you’ll be awarded 99% and given no feedback on how to improve. Even worse, if you do so terribly that you register 0% and fail to grasp the concept, the game will ignore it and pretend like it never happened. That’s when the player clearly needs the most help and the lack of a human trainer becomes noticeable. Having said that, most people I see at the gym workout alone or with friends and not a PT. Most wouldn’t be executing perfect techniques for every routine, so playing in your home really isn’t that much different.
The Final Verdict
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is the future of home fitness games. It’s not a replacement for going to the gym, but it’s a great starting point and alternative if you don’t have the time or don’t feel confident in your fitness to go on public display just yet. As a Kinect launch title there are some recognition problems, but as a fitness game it takes itself seriously, and can genuinely improve your health.