Before we begin, it's important to give this review some context. I'm an overweight, unfit individual (weighing in at just under 15 stone for my 5' 11” height) who didn't engage in any form of regular exercise... until now.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved makes a stupendous first impression. Kinect recognises the entire body and projects it onto the screen in real time, allowing you to interact with the game in 3D space. Menus are navigated simply by holding out your arm towards floating icons, and it's an absolute breeze to operate. Upon booting up the game for the first time, you'll perform a short quiz and physical exam before being let loose on the software. You're probably bored of hearing buzzwords like “accessible” and “intuitive” in Kinect games reviews, but there's simply no other way to describe it.
Your Shape provides exercise routines, a personal training suite, cardio boxing, aerobics, zen Tai Chi and a selection of minigames- but they all conform to the same basic formula. In fact, it's eerily reminiscent of Dance Central... but with squat punches and star jumps instead of dance routines. An onscreen trainer demonstrates and carries out the bewildering array of workouts, with the objective being to keep in rhythm and perform the same moves at the same time. Unlike the aforementioned music game, however, your body appears on the right hand side of the screen in your own “play space,” allowing players to simultaneously compare their movements and stance with that of the virtual instructor. The software instantly detects when you're not managing to squat low enough or raise your arms high enough and will offer relevant vocal prompts to stay on track. Note that this also removes the risk of twisting the spine during incorrect stances, thus vastly decreasing the risk of accidental sprains and injury.
The minigame selection is fairly forgettable- but it's the comprehensive personal training that really steals the show. After choosing your goals and selecting your workouts, Your Shape will track your progress and suggest/unlock more difficult workouts depending on your ability. Learning the routines can take a little time and frustration, though you'll soon get into a serious groove in the intermediate sessions along with longer reps. Cardio, Toning and hybrid routines are on offer, including programmes from Men's Health. A dedicated Cardio Boxing mode provides a genuinely fun way of breaking a sweat and a serene zen garden-themed Tai Chi setting lets players unwind. The stance and skeletal position detection is top notch on both of these modes, and attractive graphics (replete with copious cherry blossoms in the Zen garden) round out the package.
As far as clothing is concerned, it's important to avoid baggy or restrictive outfits. Going shirtless is also absolutely fine as far as Kinect is concerned. Note that you'll need to wear shoes to avoid uncomfortable arching of the feet during vigorous workouts. This should probably go without saying, but I'd also personally recommend stretching before working out (a point that the game oddly glosses over). A Zen session is absolutely perfect.
Burnt calories are tracked cumulatively between sessions, which provides otherwise disinterested gamers with a compelling reason to keep working out (beyond the obvious health benefits). Gamerscore is awarded per every hundred burned calories- and it's an absolute joy to. More committed fitness buffs will also be able to link the game with an online account at yourshapecentral.com, allowing them to keep a detailed tab on their progress from the PC.
There are a couple of obvious flaws in the package that are intrinically linked to the Kinect platform. Most obviously, pressups and situps are out of the question due to the sensor requiring an uninterrupted view- and even the Men's Health programs seem inadequate for upper body toning even if you have some dumbells knocking around. It's fantastic for toning the legs and generally achieving a slightly better standard of overall fitness, but there's hardly any scope for upper body sculpting.
Secondly, as you're probably aware, Kinect has no way of calculating your weight or Body Mass Index beyond manually weighing yourself and inputting the data every few days. This fairly basic- if unavoidable- problem makes Wii Fit a much more solid option if your primary goal is shedding a few pounds.
- Flawless body recognition
- Great for cardio and lower body toning exercises
- Get fit for gamerscore! Genius.
- Upper body workouts are very limited (even with weights)
- Lack of weighing makes Wii Fit a better option for slimming down
- Arguably better for feeling healthier rather than getting healthier
The Short Version: Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is an extremely capable and rewarding exercise suite that essentially provides players with a personal cardio instructor in the comfort of their own living room. It's no substitute for an actual personal trainer and gym membership, but despite its shortcomings, you're practically guaranteed to feel healthier if you use it regularly. I certainly do.