Jeremy Jastrzab
18 Jan, 2011

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved Review

360 Review | Lose a notch, as Kinect gains one.
The launch of any new hardware always comes with mixed reactions. But among the experiments and rush jobs, there are always a few glimmers of hope that give insight into just what can be achieved. And for Microsoft’s foray into the world of motion-sensor gaming, Kinect, the brightest light shone from the beacon known as Dance Central. The Kinect camera certainly seems tailor-made for dance games, though Ubisoft has realised that another genre would suit it well; fitness games.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved was the first fitness game to be released for Microsoft Kinect, and it came after a long line of fitness copy-cats tried to emulate the success of the 2008 release of Wii Fit. Some of these copy-cats came from Ubisoft, such as My Fitness Coach and Your Shape. However, if Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is anything to go by, we could be witnessing the first steps of the genre being taken seriously. While there are some teething issues, the game proves that Kinect is an ideal tool for fitness gaming.

The game starts off by scanning you in; it takes your measurements, you input your weight and you choose your fitness goal. These are fairly generic, such as ‘looking better’ or ‘making it up the stair without getting puffed’, and based on these, the game will choose for you a particular set of exercises. These make up the ‘Personal Trainer’ mode. If you commit to the game, this will be the mode that you’re going to spend the most time in. And commitment will show you how much there is to the game.

You sure this isn't a dancing game?

You sure this isn't a dancing game?
Just to give an example from personal experience, the goal ‘I want more energy’ was chosen. The game went on to pick a series of exercises that consisted of Cardio, Toning and Sculpting (a mix of the first two). However, at any stage you’re able to change your ‘goal’ and the exercises will adapt accordingly. As you encountered a new exercise, the game eased you in with a verbal and demonstrative tutorial. From there, you perform the sets asked of you and watch as you ‘burn the calories’ – there is a counter tallying the number of calories you burn through your exercises.

Now, how do you know you’re doing it right? The game boasts that it can pick up 50,000 points on your body, and it uses this ability to pick up your motions to judge your performance. Furthermore, a very accurate digital representation of your self is on-screen at all times. So, your basic prerogative is to follow the exercises as demonstrated, while keeping in sync with your fitness trainer and following some of the additional ‘pointers’ given at the top-right of the screen – such as ‘wide stance’ or ‘elbows up’. This will ensure you’re going the exercise properly. At the end of each exercise, you’re given a percentage score based on how well you’ve followed the trainer and exercise.

Overall, it’s an effective method for showing you what you’re doing, whether you’re doing it right and what you need to improve on. As you play, you’re going to find yourself working up a sweat and becoming more proficient at the exercises. You will find that the game helps you get active. However, the longer you do spend on the game, the more you realise some of the limitations of it being purely a Kinect title. The main issue that comes up, is that the simple interface doesn’t allow for it to tell you, exactly how long you should be doing what. One hour workout? Three times a week? The game won’t tell you, almost suggesting that you have to supplement it with your own research. The game’s official website has some good links and potential community options, but nothing substantial otherwise.

Ooooohhh... It's a snake...

Ooooohhh... It's a snake...
Still, what the game does well is encourage you to start, and anything that helps you exercise properly will be beneficial. And using Kinect will be just the ticket for some. Along with the Personal Trainer, there are two other modes that made for good interim play: ‘Fitness Classes’ and ‘Gym Games’. Fitness Classes consist of two different classes (at the time of writing, two more have been added since as DLC) out of the box: Boxing and Zen. Boxing classes work really well, and are among the most effective and easy to learn. For those who haven’t done any of it before, Zen (essentially a Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga mixy-mix) can take some time to get into. However, both these classes are well structured, play well and seemingly, do what they’re supposed to.

There are four Gym Games, all of which are quite fun, that work on a similar principle to other exercises but now allow up to four players can compete - taking turns and gunning for the highest score. Virtual smash has you punching and kicking block patterns as fast as possible. Light Race is almost like a dance game and becomes quite intuitive as your feet get fleeter. Hula-hoop is self-explanatory and remarkably accurate. While Stack Up has you balance blocks (literally) as they fall, where the more you stack, the higher the score you manage.

There is very little doubt that Your Shape: Fitness Evolved signals the future of the fitness game. Kinect shows that it’s as close as you can get to your own digital personal trainer and provides genuine work outs for those wanting to have a go at home. However, there are some areas that will need improvement in the future. As mentioned above, there is little information or feedback on continuity of exercises programs. You’re going to have to supplement it with your own research or professional advice. However, there are times where there is a lack of feedback from a gameplay perspective; you’ll feel like you’re doing it right and monkey-ing the trainer exactly, but the game won’t always tell you why it’s registering incorrectly – something particularly noticeable in Zen.

That block never stood a chance.

That block never stood a chance.
This leads into another issue, where the infant technology isn’t quite picking up everything that it should. So while you might be doing it right, there are the off occasions where something won’t quite be picked up. One factor we found to affect this was space. Unless you’ve got at least three metres and zero obstructions, your exercise routine will be ‘cramped’. Another surprising one was the game mistaking a loose shirt for a limb… Now just whose fault is that? Finally, developers are obviously still working out the kinks in menu placement and navigation in Kinect but Your Shape: Fitness Evolved feels bizarrely inconsistent.

Occasionally there are too many menu steps and going back was very tough. At others, moving up and down between options has the commands too close together, making it too easy to ‘knock’ the wrong option. That, and choosing an option could have been quicker, which may have allowed for some more textual explanations and theory. However, the overall minimalist presentation is actually quite clean, appropriate and aesthetically pleasing. Sure, the commentator/trainer will get repetitive after a while, but unlike most sports game, they’re right most of the time.

As mentioned, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved shows that Kinect is the real deal for the fitness genre. On its own though, it works well enough to be a great starting point for anyone who wants to get into some sort of fitness routine. But that’s all it is; a start. There are a couple of teething issues that will most likely be worked through the life cycle of the Kinect and, at the moment, won’t fully replace a ‘proper’ work out. But for now, it’s the second best reason to get into Kinect.
The Score
Even if it's only the first rung on the evolution ladder, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved shows off excellent potential for the Kinect and the future of fitness games.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
3 years ago
I purchased this along with Dance Central and Kinect Sports and I am happy with all three of them, I love Kinect so far and can only see it get better. The mini-games are cool but no stretching exercises is an accident waiting to happen. Make sure you all warm up before doing a routine. I warm up with a dance or two on Dance Central and really get the blood pumping after that.
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  18/11/2010 (Confirmed)
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