Video Game Review: Your Shape Fitness Evolved for Xbox 360 Kinect

I recently picked up Your Shape Fitness Evolved for Kinect on Xbox 360. There aren't currently a lot of Kinect titles, but this one is one of the best I've tried. Having used Wii Fit, Wii Fit plus, and EA Active for Wii, I can safely say this game gives me a better workout than any of them, though it isn't perfect.

The game offers 3 different types of workouts: a personal trainer guided workout (of which there are several regimens to choose from), fitness games (for example, Virtual Smash, which has you punching blocks that appear in front of you), and Zen workouts (Tai Chi). After messing around a bit with the games and zen stuff, I decided to get down to it with the personal trainer workouts.

I thought I was in pretty good shape. Well, at least not bad shape. I'm relatively active, and do a lot of walking, including a daily lunchtime walk that lasts about half an hour which I've been doing for almost 10 years. So I was surprised when Your Shape decided to destroy me, not with a workout, but with the initial fitness test.

Before you're allowed to select a fitness routine, you have to take the fitness test. It starts by asking you a few questions, then throws some exercises at you to try. The first time I tried it, I decided that it wasn't going to be a quick thing so I decided to do it later when I had more time. A few days later, I did just that, and it took about 15 minutes and left me sore and out of breath. The main thing that did me in was the lunges, specifically the forward lunges -- apparently, I hadn't been using those muscles a lot. My quadriceps were on fire, and sore for days later.

Having finished the test, the game then recommended a fitness regiment from its wide selection -- and I was aghast to find that it had recommended an advanced routine. I was out of breath, my legs were burning, and the game was saying "We think you should take an advanced class." I opted instead to browse through the selections they had to offer (noticing that more than a few of the advanced courses were marked as "recommended") and settled on the "Nice and Easy" workout! I figured I'd start out with something...well, nice and easy, and work my way up to something advanced. I really, really wished that the game had asked me one question before recommending a workout regimen: "How much pain are you in now that the test is over?" But alas, it offered me some advanced courses, and I said "No thanks."

But unfortunately, for whatever reason, Your Shape didn't save my progress -- it seems that, unless you actually start your new regimen right away, the game won't save the results of your fitness test, and will make you take it again the next time you attempt to choose a personal trainer workout routine. So I had to take the fitness test in full a second time...followed by a full, 15 minute "Nice and Easy" workout, which incidentally is not "nice" or "easy" -- it's 18 individual exercises, with very little pause between sets.

Okay, so enough complaining -- I wanted a workout, right? Well I got one. I've burnt over 500 calories so far, and am determined to workout with the game on a regular basis. If I have any complaints (other than the game apparently attempting to kill me with the fitness test -- perhaps the game company's attempt to weed out the weak in a "survival of the fittest" sort of evil plan!) they would be these: first, that the game does not break down or explain the exercises it throws at you before expecting you to be able to execute them (for example, there's this side step/kick exercise that I'm still not 100% sure I'm doing correctly), and second, that the game doesn't feel like a game, or feel like fun -- it is a genuine workout. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though I believe that the less you feel like you're working out, and the more you feel like you're playing a game and having fun, the more apt you will be to play often and, therefore, get a good workout. Does that make sense? When you feel like it's work, you're less likely to want to play the game, but if they mask it in enough fun, you could be getting a great workout without thinking "I'm working out" the whole time.

At any rate, it's a good game, recommended.


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