Until Microsoft’s new Kinect hardware settles into the market, we are going to be seeing the same gaming archetypes we saw on the Wii many years ago being replicated. It is with this in mind that I embraced Your Shape: Fitness Evolved with a little more scepticism than is arguably professional, but my usually cynical nature was denied by some excellent motion controls and fun exercise routines that allow Your Shape: Fitness Evolved to do exactly what it says on the tin.
With an exercise title like Your Shape it isn’t enough to ask if it is fun, as we also need to question whether it actually works. Starting the review on a real high I can assuredly answer yes to both of those questions. The variety in the exercises you can do keeps the game fresh and enjoyable, whether you’re doing basic cardio exercises, muscle sculpting, or even the more adventurous tai chi and boxing classes. Several gym based mini-games exist that are also fun to get everyone involved in but, even though there is a decent variety in what’s on offer, there are only a handful of games to sink your teeth into. I had a great time getting everyone into the various stepping and punching mini-games, but sadly the multiplayer only stretches as far as allowing people to take turns. Worse things could go wrong in a game like this, but it is certainly a shame that you can’t have two people playing together simultaneously.
The big hurdles to cross for a game like this are whether the camera is going to sense your movements properly, and whether or not the game will keep you in shape at all. In terms of the motion detection I must say I was very impressed by how well Your Shape was using the Kinect to track my movements. The game constantly projects a silhouette of your body on screen and will alert you to any mistakes you make as you follow the training program. Whether it’s telling you to tighten up and keep the rhythm with your trainer, or whether it is bringing up a skeletal image of your body and telling you to stretch parts of your body further, the movement detection is spot on and really helps you get the most out of your exercises. In this respect it also helps you really get into your exercises and feel the burn properly. With a device like the Kinect constantly monitoring your movements there is no way for you to try and cheat your way through, and as a result you can really work up a sweat with Your Shape. It also helps to know that the exercises offered up by Your Shape are all tailored to your individual needs and target areas. Whenever you begin as a new user the camera tracks your height and detects your body mass index once you enter your weight. You’re also given a small questionnaire regarding your usual exercise habits and what you want to get out of your exercise, and Your Shape gives you a personal fitness plan from this. It’s a nice feeling knowing you’re a part of the exercise shaping process and it helps you feel like you’re going to get more from your time with Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.
Considering how solid the general mechanics of Your Shape are, I’m amazed the development team had enough time to also make it look the part. The usual fair of graphics card frying explosions and physics engines obviously aren’t present, but the whole game has a rather slick feel and there is no doubt that the user interface is as smooth as it gets. The silhouette of your body that the game projects also looks pretty cool and it has the added bonus of making you look absolutely stacked if the camera catches you in the right light. The sound is fairly standard featuring calming background music, running water in the background and Mr. Motivator style voice overs for the trainers. The personal trainers don’t have the worst voices in the world but the vocal clips can get a little repetitive. Thankfully you can always change the gender of your trainer if you find one of their voices too unbearable.
The main gripe I’d level at Your Shape has to be the potential lifespan. Admittedly it starts on the back foot on account of these exercise games theoretically requiring you to use them every day, but the occasionally monotonous nature of the individual exercise types could potentially lead to it getting very stale very quickly. This wouldn’t be a problem had the game retailed at a budget price, but with the usual price of entry it is difficult to see how the amount of content on the disc will compete with some of the other blockbuster releases during this hectic Holiday season.
There are few bumps and hiccups along the way, but Your Shape: Fitness Evolved does exactly what it needs to do and it does so in an enjoyable and stylish manner. If you want a cheaper alternative to the gym, or lack the time to exercise outside your own four walls then Your Shape might just be an ideal solution to your problem.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Good Variety of exercises, Smooth presentation, Excellent use of the Kinect hardware, You can really feel the burn, Tailors exercises to individual needs
Can be quite a demeaning experience, Could get repetitive after a while, Arguably lacking in content, No true multiplayer modes
Because every motion controller needs a fitness program, we have Your Shape gracing the Kinect launch line-up. Scepticism aside, a decent variety in exercises and some fantastic motion detection make Your Shape an early stand out title for Microsoft's new hardware and a great way to keep fit