November 21, 2010

Burn and Earn

Lasting First Impressions of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved by Ubisoft

Your Shape Fitness EvolvedWell it’s been a few weeks now since Xbox Kinect launched and I have been having an absolute blast with it.  The first day I brought it home and hooked it up, it was like I was finally living in the sci-fi future I had only dreamed of as a kid.  Realizing that the Xbox could recognize me with facial recognition and respond to my voice commands was like something right out of Star Trek.

When Microsoft announced Kinect at E3 ’09 (when it was known simply as Project Natal), my first thought was how wonderful this technology would be for the exercise “games” that have flooded the market on the Wii over the last few years.  I have always been a proponent for exercise, having struggled with weight all my life, but it doesn’t always come easy.  Physical activity can be made fun, but willing yourself to begin a new training regiment can be a challenge.

Enter Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.  Ubisoft made sure that this game was part of the demonstration for Kinect at last year’s E3, and it was definitely an impressive demonstration of what would be possible once Kinect launched.  I was personally excited for this application to be released and it was the first title I purchased when I picked up my Kinect on launch day.

Ubisoft had previously released Your Shape as a Wii title, complete with the Wii camera, but it was far from perfect only because of the limitations of the camera in low light conditions.  Kinect is far superior to that and, as a result, this new iteration of Your Shape is much improved.  The lack of any kind of handheld controls truly leaves you free to add your own free weights to any exercise.  This is what excited me about Kinect exercise programs most of all.

So far, this game is the only one that actually shows your actual image on screen instead of an avatar whose arms and legs mimic your movements.  In this game, your entire body is being scanned and analysed as you perform the training presented.  When the game is launched for the first time, you will see your body being scanned and a skeleton overlayed over yourself along with measurements of how long your arms and legs are and how tall you are.  I was fascinated to watch this happen and completely amazed at the fact that this was actually occurring.

Once I was scanned, I was then taken through a series of exercises and movements to not only introduce the concepts of the program, but also to determine my current fitness level.  Your Shape then asked what type of training I wanted to concentrate on (I chose Cardio) and it then set my training level to Advanced.  I’m not really sure how it determined that I should be in the advanced Cardio program, but this is one thing I’m not keen on in Your Shape.  I can’t figure out how to change this without having to go through the entire introduction again.  If you want to change your training program, it seems to want to ‘teach’ you how to use the program all over again.  This can get very annoying.

Other than the main “Training” section of Your Shape, you also have the choice of “Gym Games” and “Fitness Programs”.  Gym Games include such titles as Virtual Smash, Stack ’em Up, Light Race, and Loop-a-Hoop.  In Virtual Smash you use cross-over punches or kicks to smash blocks as fast as you can to earn points.  In Stack ’em Up you use your hands to hold up a bar that will catch falling blocks.  The higher you can stack the blocks, the more points they’re worth before you drop them into an open pit.  Light Race is a simple Simon type game where you use your feet to repeat a pattern of coloured lights.  Finally, Loop-a-Hoop is a simple but tiring game of Hoola Hoop, in which you keep as many hoola hoops spinning as you can before the time runs out.

The Fitness Programs that are shipped on-disc are Zen and Cardio Boxing.  Zen is a non-impact warm up or cool down program that teaches yoga balancing moves.  The Cardio boxing is an incredible calorie burner that keeps you moving with Tae Bo style moves.  Using Ubisoft’s Uplay program, you can purchase additional Fitness Programs by spending Uplay points earned throughout the game.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is a wonderful and fun fitness program.  Ubisoft definitely understands the capabilities of Kinect and has designed a fantastic program that responds in real time to your movements.  They have even created an online community called in which you can set goals for yourself or even set a challenge for your friends.  Your Shape Center keeps track of your statistics such as calories burned each day.  In just over 6 days of using the game, I’ve lost 800 calories, the equivalent of more than 2 servings of French Fries (yes, this is a fact that the web interface tells you).

Of the selection of games and activities to do in Your Shape, I’ve been having quite a bit of fun with the Cardio Boxing lately.  This training regiment really burns the calories fast and works up a great sweat.  I feel great after this and find it’s a really good way to end my day.

As mentioned earlier in this review, one qualm I have with Your Shape is the inability to easily change your Training Program without having to go through all the tutorial sections again.  I also find that there doesn’t seem to be any ground exercises available (like crunches or pushups).  It may be that I just haven’t come across them yet so I will reserve judgment on that until I have seen every program available.  I’ve also noticed that there are times when the software isn’t recognizing the movements I’m making perfectly.  For some reason, my left knee lifts are proving to be the bane of my workout because it’s telling me I’m not doing it at all.  I recommend that you wear fairly form fitting clothes with this game for it to see your shape more accurately.

If you’re looking for not only one of the best designed Kinect games available, but a great home exercise regiment, I highly recommend Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.  Not only is it fun, but for the first time ever, you can gain Achievement points for burning calories!

Ubisoft, I gave you an hour and I am highly IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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