Let’s set one thing straight from the beginning. Your Shape Fitness Evolved is not a game.
Your Shape fires up a white medical-looking interface and you’re standing there looking back at yourself, not a picture of yourself mind you, but a moving shifting silhouette of yourself that changes as you move. There are no cute avatars here.
Stand within the “Kinect zone” to start and you’ll see a virtual image of yourself, start standing out of that “zone” and pixels start to fly off you as if you are being sucked into a vortex. Like Wii Fit, Your Shape is all about getting you fit, helping you lose those pounds, and getting you to do some exercise without you realising it.
For the software to be able to do that you’ve got to first let it analyse you, as well as punch in some weight and age details, before doing a training session where the game can rate your performance and set you going. If you’re worried that it means hours of punching in data, don’t be. Most of it is done by you standing still and the Kinect doing its magic.
After 30 seconds in front on the camera the game works out your height, your leg measurements, your arm length, and other random titbits. That information is used to adjust the menu system so you don’t have to stretch too far to reach menus, but ultimately it’s used to allow Your Shape to make sure you are in the correct position or performing the correct moves. It’s very clever. Complete a Yoga class and using the information that it’s mapped about your skeleton it knows whether you are holding the right pose or not and won’t let you continue until you do.
Once you’re “mapped” it’s on to that training session where you’re put to work. The better you perform - a series of cardio, timing, and basic exercises - the more advanced the training thereafter. Don’t worry if it’s your first time, you can take the test again and again, or just start at the lowest level - beginner.
Once you’ve jumped through the initial hoops you can decide to pre-set a goal like lose weight, or better definition or just have a play with what is available. There are three main areas - Fitness and Yoga, more muscular based work-outs and gym games that aim to make fun of the whole “you're doing boring exercise” element to the title. Make no mistake, you will be doing exercise and you will be knackered by the end of it if that’s your goal.
Some levels suggest that you do the exercises with your own “provided” weights and because you are not having to hold a set of Wii controllers or stand on a Wii Board, is clearly a lot easier.
But it’s not just the odd arm lift here and a leg movement there. You’ll be doing punching, kicking, dancing, stepping, squat thrusts, lunges, and plenty more, unlocking exercises as you continue to train to reach your goal.
To make sure you’re doing all this as you should, and therefore get the most benefit from your sweaty time in front of your TV, you’ve got to follow your on screen trainer (male or female) to the letter. Failure to do so means you fall behind and that means you get told off. Just as in real life, rewards and praise only come when you deserve it.
The software’s ability to monitor you in front of your TV is very good. Gameplay doesn’t require the fast paced action movements of some of the other Kinect games available and because of that you’ll find little frustration with the system responding to your movements. One cause for concern we did have in our sessions was choosing the right clothing. Wear baggy clothes and it might have trouble seeing that perfect move you are performing. If that’s the case there is no doubt in the game’s mind; you’re cheating, and that means it doesn’t count. Still, in the privacy of your own home you can wear that Lycra you wouldn’t want to wear at the gym.
All those training sessions are kept in a training diary and if you want you can share them online so you can access them via your computer for further analysis. That site isn’t that great at the moment, but we suspect it will be updated as more people start to use the system.
Your Shape is a fantastic offering for those serious about getting some exercise in their lounge, with a serious interface and graphics that banish any element of fun from the game.
Following the trend of EA Sports Active (also coming to the Kinect, seen previously on the Wii, as indeed is Your Shape), the idea with Your Shape is to provide an avenue for exercise at home. It provides a greater level of interaction than your average workout DVD and there will always be those who want the privacy of exercising at home.
Your Shape Fitness Evolved is a great use of Kinect, and a great demonstration of what is possible, but don’t expect it to be fun in the conventional sense.