|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBA 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: TBA||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by J. Matthew Zoss
This years E3 was all about hardware rather than software. And although the Nintendo 3DS was greeted with near-universal acclaim, Microsofts Kinect camera was not talked about so warmly. Across the board, Microsofts first-party Kinect offerings failed to impress. However, there were two games that seemed to demonstrate the value of the peripheral. The first was Dance Central. The second was Your Shape Fitness Evolved. Thats right, a workout game.
Dont turn away just yet. Even if youre not at all interested in workout games, Your Shape Fitness Evolved might change your mind. I was right there with you at first. Revealed at Microsoft's press briefing, Your Shape Fitness Evolved made me roll my eyes when the trailer first started up, but by the time the video ended, I was convinced that it could actually be worth my time. I've used other fitness games before, and the problem I've always had with them is that even if it's a game that uses a motion sensor, you're never entirely sure you're doing an exercise correctly. No matter how clever the use of the Wii Remote or other sensors, no previous fitness game could accurately track an entire body.
With Kinect, that's all changed. When you fire up Your Shape Fitness Evolved, you get a potentially frightening scan of your entire body (fortunately, it can't detect your weight). In a few seconds, youve got a readout of your height, arm span, hip distance, and other anatomical information that you probably didnt know. The sensor actually detects "skeletal movement," meaning that it track the precise movements of your joints as you exercise. I got a chance to try it in one of the glassed-in pods in Ubisoft's E3 booth, and I was immediately impressed with how the Kinect tracked my movements - it even detected the subtle shifts in the fabric of my shirt as I moved.
There are several different modes in the game, although I only got a chance to try two: yoga and combat training. What impressed me right away about the yoga mode is how immediate the feedback is. When I followed the on-screen instructor into a wide-legged stance (the screen displays the proper names of the yoga movement), the game instantly told me that I wasn't bending my knees enough. I squatted down lower, and the on-screen prompts let me know the moment when I had achieved the correct pose. After completing each pose, you're shown a score with how accurately you performed the pose. My first attempts were pretty dismal, but at least the game told me what I was doing wrong so I knew how to improve. I was able to emulate the moves more accurately after only a few tries, thanks to the real-time feedback on my performance.
Next I tried my hand at the combat game, which has you throwing a series of punches and kicks and blocks that appear on the screen. It took me a round or two to get the hang of punching a virtual target, but after I did it started to come pretty naturally. The targets always appeared in the same order, so once I got the pattern down I was throwing punches (and love kicks) quickly and accurately. The targets are arranged in a way that encourages you to throw cross punches - a left to hit right, a right to hit left - so you're moving your entire torso, just like you would in a real boxing/combat class. Im happy to say that after I found my groove, I got the highest score of anyone in my small demo session!
I didn't get enough time with the game to work up a sweat, but after the combat game I definitely noticed that my heart rate and breathing had quickened a bit. I'd need more time with Your Shape Fitness Evolved before I could definitively say it would be a worthwhile part of my workout routine, but it certainly shows promise. As for the Kinect sensor, it seemed to accurately capture my movements, and I didn't notice any lag. Then again, even the combat game wasn't incredibly fast-paced, so it's hard to call this an accurate test of the cameras abilities. Nevertheless, if I do wind up purchasing a Kinect sensor this fall, it will likely be to spend more time with Your Shape Fitness Evolved. Unlike the other games, it seems like it offers up a genuine tangible benefit, rather than a bland rehash of old Wii party games.
J. Matthew Zoss
CCC Freelance Writer