The Average Gamer

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved Preview (Xbox 360 Kinect)

Fitness has been an ongoing battle for me. Going to the gym is so boring that I don’t even try to make excuses any more. I once took a beginner’s dance class but was shamed by the 16-year-olds who would string together every routine effortlessly on the first attempt. Me and the other 25+ newbies? We’re not going back.

My new resolve is to work out from the comfort of my living room. I’ve tried this a couple of times before with Wii Fit and EA Sports Fitness. Ubisoft’s upcoming Kinect title Your Shape: Fitness Evolved promises a much more streamlined experience.

Not a bad likeness, right? Maybe a little wide around the hips ;)

Using the Kinect is a brilliant plan. As much as EA Sports Fitness did give me a great workout, it was always hampered by the damn velcro strap falling down my leg, or the Wiimote failing to register when I know I made the correct moves. Fitness Evolved clearly mirrors your actions with an on-screen avatar, giving you precise feedback on your position and showing exactly what you’re doing wrong. In the right mode, you can even get it to replicate your image through the camera! Check me out in the picture to the right.

Using Kinect to navigate the interface eliminates the hassle of finding a controller every two minutes, though the preview menu was a little slow and temperamental. Hopefully that will be cleared up in the final build.

For me, the most important thing about a workout game is that I don’t get bored. Gameplay should so much fun that the exercise is incidental. I’m really looking forward to the new breed of dance games (Dance Central and Just Dance 2) and they’ll give me a great cardio workout but not much else. Fitness Evolved has a good range of game modes to work cardio and strength – personal training, mini games and classes.

The Class

Swirling the Snake

Rather like Wii Fit, you can go into a number of traditional exercise classes – in the preview I played we had yoga and “Zen” which is rather like Tai Chi. I’ve done a couple of Tai Chi semesters in the past so I’m well up for a bit of flowing zen movement. It works! It’s really great to be able to see what you’re doing without craning your neck at a mirror and the on-screen skeleton overlay tells you exactly when you’re in the right position. Just a couple of minutes into the routine you can really feel the burn in your thighs.

The Mini-Games

These are where I have high hopes for Fitness Evolved. I played a couple of games; one that involves falling blocks on a virtual board and another on cross-body-punching virtual targets while ducking a giant pendulum. Moving around to catch the falling blocks is a great distraction from the fact that you’re basically waving your arms above your head until your deltoids give out.

Cross-punching was less obviously a workout and great for your reaction times. On the harder levels it did suffer from the lag we’ve been seeing on other Kinect titles, and we all got clobbered by the pendulum despite being in full crouch. Hopefully that will be fixed by release.

Cross-body punches. No pendulum on easy mode

Personal Training

As with so many fitness titles, you’ll start out with an assessment and asked to choose your goals. Fitness Evolved will then take you though a routine tailored to your needs with workouts designed by celebrity fitness trainers Michael George and Michelle Bridges.

With no controllers, a good variety of workout modes and personalised routines, there really is no excuse left for lying on the sofa all evening. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will be a Kinect launch title available on November 10th.

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