Exercise is sometimes a very daunting thought. When was the last time you went for a jog? Or perhaps the last time you did a press-up? Probably the answer to those is quite a long time ago. You see when it comes to us typical gamers; exercise is usually the last thing on your mind, particularly after a long day at work when all you want to do is chill out on the sofa.
The Wii has showcased a variety of fitness games already, so Your Shape is nothing new in that respect, in fact the first game was available on the Nintendo console with a dedicated camera. However the arrival of Kinect has heralded the first fitness title on the Xbox 360 and the ‘Fitness Evolved’ in the games name certainly reflects how this is a step-up on previous fitness games.
That said Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is not without its flaws, mainly due to some of the limitations of the Kinect camera. It certainly isn’t a game-breaker though and for the first game of its type using the new technology, it can only be a good sign at this stage. The near 1:1 tracking works perfectly aside from when moves become more erratic and you fling your arms out of view for a moment.
Crucially space is the key problem with Your Shape. We all know Kinect requires plenty of floor space, but this is even more important with fitness titles. With all the movement and jumping around, a good 8ft-10ft of floor space is required. This isn’t going to be the size of everyone’s bedroom, so a bit like Kinect itself, Your Shape is going to be limited to those playing in open-plan living rooms, with most British people having particularly small bed rooms. It’ll be an issue with most games but more-so when it comes to working out.
Your Shape features a slick and futuristic interface, finally one that gives a fitness game some credibility instead of the childish and un-serious nature of predecessors. Your body is represented in the game by a virtual avatar which tracks your body movements and fits in-line with the smooth design. There are no Xbox Live avatars in sight, thankfully the only Kinect launch title it seems to avoid using them in some way.
Probably the first port of call will be the Personal Trainer which scans your body before asking you key questions such as height and weight. Unlike the Wii Fit and balance board, there is no way for Kinect to recognise weight; therefore it is important to input this correctly to ensure that the exercise regimes are tailored to your needs. Not everyone will use Your Shape for the same needs, you might be looking to lose weight or perhaps tone your muscle (or try and get muscle in my case). Once you’ve selected a regime though you can always choose to change it at any given point if your area of focus changes.
You can also choose your own exercise regimes on a daily basis if you want to mix it up a little including everyone’s favourite cardio moves, the squat thrust and star jump; two move which will get you puffing away. There are a variety of harder moves to perform if you fancy a more difficult challenge or you can combine the moves with weights to give some additional toning. The game doesn’t recognise weights however and isn’t packaged with any, so you’ll need to head out and pick up a set of cheap dumbbells if you want to feel the full benefits of your exercise regimes.
If you do opt for the Personal Trainer route, then the game will tailor the activities depending on how your fitness level is becoming. The great thing about Your Shape is that it’ll start with the basics before throwing in more advanced exercises or speeding the pace up, so you’ll break into a sweat. It sounds daunting but the tracking methods used in the game give you the confidence and willingness to perform alongside the voiceover for added motivation.
For each day you work-out, the calorie counter will start adding up. You’ll feel the effects with your muscle ache and tiredness, however this is a sure sign that you’re working out properly. The in-game achievements are tailored towards how many calories are burnt, a novel way to get those bothered about Gamerscore working out each day. Just as important is how your mind works when associated with the work-outs; you need to keep a level head and keep working on the moves.
If you want more of a body and mind type workout then the Fitness Classes are the ideal choices such as Yoga and Tai Chai particularly when warming-up or warming-down. The Zen mode as it is referred to is rather relaxing whilst refining your balance and clearing out the mind set to the back-drop of a tranquil Japanese environment with colour galore. If you want something a little more fun, there are some mini-games on offer including Virtual Smash, Stack ‘Em, Light Race and Loop a Hoop; which offer a respite from the more monotonous exercise. With only four of them however, you’ll soon tire and move back onto the standard exercise programme, but there inclusion is good all the same.
The great aspect of Your Shape is the online tracking which you can find on the official yourshapecenter.com website where you can see how many calories you are burning daily as well as setting goals and challenges for yourself to achieve the perfect fitness. There is also a promise of special events and DLC to be added at a later date, but as it stands and when it works (there are minor errors now and again), this is one area which stands head and shoulders above any previous fitness title.
Although not a game in the traditional sense, Your Shape gives you the opportunity to exercise in your living room at a lower cost than spending £40 a month down at the gym. You won’t look an idiot either and for those who lack the confidence to attend the gym, it is the ideal way to get into shape. The online statistics and achievements are a great way of keeping you motivated as well as the ability to share records with friends. It isn’t quite perfect and has a number of other launch fitness titles to compete with, but as it stands if you feel the pounds are piling on or if you want to complement your gym visits or daily exercise, Your Shape is the perfect way to feel happy and healthy this winter.