The road to virtual fitness is paved with good intentions.
Motion gaming is the fire hydrant that everyone is desperate to pee on. Now that the big three console manufacturers all have their respective motion devices in the marketplace, the race is on to claim as much of that hydrant as possible.
[image1]And there’s nothing that can get you in top form for lifting a leg better than to practice, well, lifting a leg. Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will have you lifting legs, squatting, and balancing precariously in no time.
Your Shape is divided into three parts: personal training, fitness classes, and gym games. The big hook here, of course, is the use of the Kinect motion camera to monitor your body positions and keep you in step with the on-screen trainers. However, a few design missteps keep this from being a definitive exercise game, and it falls into some of the same traps that its competitors have long since left behind.
First and foremost, the personal training routines are preset routines. There’s nothing “personal” about presets, and EA and Nintendo have both recognized this in their respective fitness games. But Ubisoft ignores a truly personalized routine in favor of a handful of presets, many of which are named by fitness-oriented sponsors. It seems like Ubi is more interested in turning tricks for sponsors rather than giving you a more customized experience.
[image2]At the very least, they could supplement these presets with a more robust training system that can be tailored more specifically to your needs. The presets themselves are moderately demanding, and depending on how much of any given workout you choose, you’ll definitely feel the burn. There’s a workout to be had, but it’s just not much more than you could get from a timer and a few short videos.
The possibilities of Kinect, however, set Your Shape apart from most of its competitors. In both the training and fitness sections of the game, you see a virtual trainer in the foreground and your outline in the background. However, because of the inherent lag in the device, your on-screen avatar is always just slightly out of step with the trainer.
This doesn’t matter much for the slower routines—like the Zen trainer—but it matters quite a bit for the faster aerobic routines where your timing determines how your performance is measured. A better solution would be to do something closer to Dance Central where parts of the dancer’s body get highlighted in red when you’re out of step. In Your Shape, trying to match your avatar to the trainer is an impossible task, so your best bet is just to watch the trainer and ignore your virtual representative completely.
[image3]Similarly, because of the disjointed timing and visual representation between your trainer and your avatar, it’s not easy to tell what you’re doing wrong. Some kind of playback feature that analyzes your performance with respect to the ideal performance would help enormously.
The gym games are a fun and sweaty diversion, but they are nothing that hasn’t been done already back on the PS2 with the EyeToy. You’ll appear on screen and can do things like punch at floating blocks and balance a board over your head—none of which lives up to the promise of Kinect. And without a device like the Wii Balance Board, you’ll still have to step on your own scale from time to time to monitor your weight loss.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is a forgettable exercise game that can nevertheless get you sweating in your living room, but it has none of the depth and longevity of its competitors. This is one game that will be holding it a bit longer before it gets some real estate on the motion gaming fire hydrant.