Fitness games are a funny genre. They seemed to pop up out of no where and then, much like developers keep attempting with edutainment titles, someone decided to make them fun. The results are games that threaten to keep you fit, but can actually be enjoyed by gamers who have no interest in the exercise side of things. By combining the whole fitness and exercise idea with enjoyable mini games, they have ended up with a niche genre that actually appeals to the masses, although many gamers will refuse to admit it.
With the launch of Kinect, offering full body motion control, it is no surprise to see fitness games quickly being released, and it makes a welcome change to the abundance of party/mini game compilations. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is Ubisoft’s attempt to get us all fighting fit and healthy. First things first though. As you may expect, any game that revolves around exercise will need a substantial amount of room, and this is even more important with the Kinect. I have mentioned before the lack of room and only just managing the bare minimum space required for Kinect. Well Your Shape required the moving of the sofa and probably would have benefited from knocking down the wall. This is simply due to the amount of movement that will be expected of the player and the Kinect camera’s ability to register the player better if they are slightly further away.
All of you clever people out there who realised you could go for a run in Wii Fit by just laying on the sofa and wiggling the Wiimote, be warned. Using the power of Kinect, Your Shape tracks your entire body. There is no escape. It really is quite incredible, as the game actually beams your shadowy presence onto the screen and you are able, in a slightly blobby kind of way, to see what you are doing. And so can the game. If you are not doing the activities properly, the game will tell you. On a serious note, this is really useful for people who are actually trying to get the most out of their fitness game, as it will sense errors in the way you are moving and encourage you to correct them.
Jumping, or rather worriedly stepping, into the personal training section gives the player a quick assessment and then offers a number of different routines, with some specifically recommended based on the results of the assessment. Whilst these routines offer quite a variety and are apparently arranged by professional fitness trainers, there seems very little motivation or feedback. The player is supposed to carry out the routine daily until the course is finished, and then simply move onto a different one. Where is the congratulations or the mega complex graph showing how awesome I am doing? Rather than offering the full personal trainer experience, there still seems to be some work that will have to be done by the player themselves.
Besides the workouts available, there are also classes in such activities as Yoga and a small collection of mini games that feature low intensity exercise, whilst still being fun. Which is, in my opinion, where the game has slightly got it wrong. The most successful fitness games seem to revolve more around the fun aspect, and thus keeping the gamer interested, and less on the actual exercising. Your Shape has chosen the opposite route, trying to draw in the player with promises of professional workout routines and leaving the fun firmly in the background. Whilst this makes the game much more serious, and perhaps less of a game, it makes it less appealing to the average gamer and of much more interest to the fitness enthusiast. Which, unfortunately puts this title back into the niche category.
At the end of the day, I have no doubt that the Kinect market will soon be flooded with fitness games (we already have another fitness review on the way) and if they offer just a bit more fun, then Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will be in trouble. But for those who are serious about their fitness and want a use for that shiny bit of plastic above the TV, Your Shape may well tick the right boxes.