I mentioned last week that I had purchased the new peripheral for the Xbox 360, the Kinect. The Kinect is basically a motion sensing and tracking device that allows you to control your video games without holding a controller in your hands. To me it’s one of the most exciting advancements in gaming technology in years, probably since the Wii came out with the motion tracking Wiimote.
While the Kinect is priced a bit on the high side ($150), after having a week or so with the device I have to say that I’ve been thoroughly impressed and I feel like it was worth it for me. In my few tests so far in using the device it has been extremely accurate in sensing my motion, and the only real glitches I’ve seen are due to the fact that my play area probably isn’t large enough. That is the biggest con I’ve found of the device so far – that the Kinect needs you to have a play area 8×8 feet or larger to really enjoy it to it’s full potential.
So far I’ve got two games that I’ve been able to test out, Kinect Adventures (which comes with the Kinect), and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved – a fitness title that aims to take full advantage of the Kinect’s motion sensing capabilities, and really take the fitness video game genre to a new level. Today I’m going to do an initial review of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.
Your Shape Fitness Evolved
Your Shape Fitness Evolved is a fitness-simulation game for Xbox 360 that is designed to deliver a 3D, controller-free fitness simulation experience like no other. Built around the camera, depth sensors and multi-array microphone of the Microsoft Kinect sensor peripheral,* the game allows for real-time motion capture of the players movements, facial recognition and both voice and interactive menu commands. This combined with Ubisoft’s Player Projection Technology, which enables the Kinect sensor to track up to a million data points on the player’s body, results in low lag and total player immersion in what is destined to be the most challenging fitness-simulation game to date. Additional features include: in-game instructors, multiple exercise classes, workouts created by real experts, progress tracking and multiplayer support.
So Your Shape aims to give the player a totally immersive experience where they’re able to actually be in the game, not be distracted by feeling like the game isn’t a real workout and be challenged by a variety of workouts, classes and mini-games.
For me the game so far has done that – when I’m playing it I feel like I’m really at the gym taking a class or getting a one-on-one personal training session. To me it’s probably the only fitness video game (or video) that I’ve done that makes me feel like I’m actually getting a tough workout, the right way. Because of the Kinect sensor, the game also is able to give you correction and make you feel almost like you’re actually working out with a real instructor!
So let’s jump in and talk about what you’ll find in this product.
Playing The Game
When you launch the game for the first time, the first thing it will do is do a quick scan of you to figure out how tall you are, your body proportions and then ask you some simple questions as far as your age, weight and a couple of other data points. Based off of what you answer – and the body scan, a somewhat personalized workout plan will be created for you.
They say the camera adds 10 pounds, and Kinect has two cameras. So when Ubisoft’s upcoming Kinect title Your Shape: Fitness Evolved put a somewhat stout-looking projection of me on the screen, I shouldn’t have been surprised—especially given that the game’s success depends on players wanting to melt away those love handles (source)
Depending on what your goals are as well you can choose a variety of programs tailored to your needs. Just had a baby? Choose a program tailored to new moms. Trying to drop some weight? Choose the weight loss regimen. Toning up? Choose the toning program.
Menu Systems Very Intuitive
While I was beginning this process the first thing that I noticed was that the menu system for the game is very intuitive. Basically, the Kinect sensor camera recognizes you, scans you as you stand there and inserts a full body image of you in the game. Then as you stand there in game if you reach your arms out you are able to choose different menu options with your hand outstretched, and once you’ve chosen something it always asks you to confirm.
I wasn’t sure how well this was going to work when reading about it online, and whether or not there was going to be a lot of lag from when you do something to when it happens on screen. I have to say I noticed very little if any lag in this game. I played a couple of other demos, and kinect adventures – and Your Shape was by far the most responsive of the games I’ve tried so far.
The menus were very easy to use, and after doing it a few times I found I was controlling the game and menus with little or no thought to it. It just works very well in my opinion.
After being scanned the first time, every time after that you’ll be logged into the game automatically, and the in game hostess will welcome you back with a “good evening” or “good morning”. Once you’re in the main menu you can do a variety of different things. First, you’ll see a customized home screen for you, showing how many calories you’ve burned so far and any challenges you’ve got pending with other users. You can also change your in game appearance or view any news or updates by simply stepping on one of two small circles in your play area on screen. If you don’t want to do any of those things, you can simply begin your workout by choosing either “personal training”, “gym games” or
One of the first options you have in-game is to do the personal training – customized training sessions that are tailored to your fitness level and fitness goals that you chose when you first signed on. To me this is the heart of the game. For me I chose a weight loss goal and started right in with the cardio workouts.
You can either let the game guide you through workouts, or choose a specific one that you want to do. When choosing workouts it will tell you what it is, how long it takes, and how advanced the workout is.
The first one I chose was a cardio workout. The clock starts and the game begins by showing you how to do a couple of the moves that will be included in the workout. The Kinect sensor tracks you and shows you on-screen – and will tell you when you’re not doing the exercise right. Think you’re going to dog it when working out? Think again! The game will recognize when you’re not lifting your legs high enough, or your arms aren’t going up all the way, and will tell you to pick it up and improve. For example, I was doing lunges at one point, and getting tired. I started not dipping close enough to the ground. The game recongized that and told me to dip lower. I did, and felt the burn!
The first couple of cardio workouts that I did were up to an intensity level for me right now (where I’m out of shape) where I felt challenged, but not like I was going to fall over and die. While you’re working out the game tracks the number of calories you should be burning – and will keep track of that for you every time you workout. While I can’t vouch for how accurate that part of it is (there is some debate about that), I can tell you it’s a useful yardstick for yourself when working out.
The day after doing the cardio workouts I did a brief Men’s Health upper body weights workout (there are several Men’s Health and Women’s Health sponsored workouts in the game). The weights workout was effective as well, and I found myself getting a great workout, while getting useful feedback from the game when my form wasn’t up to par. To me, the feedback you get from the game is extremely helpful because it helps you to get a better workout, all while having better form than you might otherwise have had.
I’ve only been doing the personal training workouts for about 3 days now, but so far I’ve been pretty impressed with how much of a workout I feel like I’m getting, and how effectively the game uses the Kinect sensor to improve your workouts.
Another part of the game that can be fun, although I haven’t found it to be overly exerting, is the gym games. You may have seen some of the gym games on the commercial, especially the virtual smash game (show below)
The games found in the title include:
- Virtual smash: In this game you are trying to punch and kick as many blocks with your hands, knees and feet as you can before the time runs out. In more advanced levels you’ll also need to avoid swinging pendulums.
- Light race: You stand in a circle and have to have fancy footwork in order to copy the pattern of lights appearing on the circle around you. Reminds me of that old handheld game where you hit the buttons in the same pattern the game does, or you’re out.
- Loop-a-hoop: You do the hula hoop for a set period of time and try to get the balls lifted and out the hole in the ceiling based on the intensity of your hula-hooping.
- Stack em up: You hold your arms in the air and catch blocks and balls on a platform as fast as you can, and dump them into holes in the floor when they open up to get points.
The games can all be played with anywhere from 1 to 4 players, one player at a time. They’re fun, but I can’t see myself playing these games over and over unless we had others over at the house and needed some laughs.
There are also currently two fitness classes that you can take in-game. Yoga training and cardio boxing.
So far I’ve taken one of each class, and they do what they’re supposed to. The yoga class takes you through a progression of yoga moves over the time period, scoring you on how well you do. I’m not a big yoga guy so I can’t see myself doing this too often. I had heard it suggested that you do a yoga routine after working out as a cool-down, and i can see how that might work well, that’s how I did it this time.
The cardio boxing is more enjoyable for me. I did this routine the other day and it does give you a good workout. My only thing is that I have a hard time following along sometimes – although part of the great thing about this game is that it helps you to fix what you’re doing wrong. You can see yourself on-screen and compare to the instructor – and the game tells you what you’re doing wrong. I love that.
After playing Your Shape: Fitness Evolved for the past few days, I’ve been very impressed with the game, and would highly recommend it to anyone. Among the high points.
- Great utilization of Kinect: The game’s use of the Kinect sensor in the game’s menus, workouts and games is done really well. The menus are responsive, there is hardly any lag, and it really does give you an immersive experience. I especially love how the game gives you feedback and helps correct you when you’re not doing the exercises correctly.
- You will break a sweat: While the novelty of Kinect will certainly sell the game, the fact that the workouts actually make you sweat will keep you coming back.
- Good variety of workouts: There are a good variety of workouts that will keep you entertained for weeks to come.
- It’s fun!: The game is just plain fun – never mind the fact that you’re getting a good workout!
The game isn’t without it’s faults. Some cons:
- You need a large play area: One of the downsides for the game is that you need a pretty big area to play the game in, in order for it to track you correctly.
- Environment is kinda plain sometimes: The white backgrounds on the game can be kind of plain and vanilla at times. more colorful backgrounds might have been nice.
- Number of workouts isn’t exhaustive: Although the game does come with quite a few workouts, the game isn’t exhaustive. They do plan on releasing more as downloadable content, however.
I’m loving Your Shape: Fitness Evolved so far, and look forward to dropping some pounds using it over the next few months!
Have you tried out Your Shape: Fitness Evolved? What was your experience? Considering getting the game? What’s holding you back? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
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