As a fitness tool, Microsoft’s Kinect has been disappointingly erratic. From the cumbersome menu navigation of EA Sports Active 2 to an inability to recognize fundamental exercises such as push-ups in THQ’s UFC Personal Trainer, the device tests patience just as much as physical strength and stamina. Remarkably, Ubisoft’s Your Shape Fitness Evolved sidestepped many of the recognition issues which have accompanied similar workout titles. Between a tracking system which purportedly traced a million points on the player’s body and routines which eschewed floor-based routines like planks and sit-ups, the title delivered a functional fitness routine which outperformed its competitors.
Expectedly, the recent release of Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 builds on the strengths of its predecessor, offering players new perks such as themed aerobic workouts, runs through virtual cities, improved online stat tracking and competitions, as well as the introduction of ground-based exercises. While the disk offers a range of customizable drill which target specific parts of the body and well as the type of preset routines prescribed by an athletic trainer, intermittently, Your Shape 2012 stumbles under the strain of its own ambitions.
Ditching the avatars and monochromatic personas of last year’s title, the program commences each new session with a visual scan. Once the Kinect has given the participant a brief overview, players are treated to a convincing (albeit shiny) representation which mirrors the players movements with a minimum of lag. Next, participants are ushered into the game’s modified menu system which gets players to their desired exercises with a minimum of fuss. Gone are the intricate branching menus, replaced by a stylish, push-to-play interface.
From here, Your Shape 2012’s abundance of activities vie for a player’s energy, with options for focused workouts or specialized classes. More autonomous players have the choice to jump into the title’s warm-up exercises, which mix several returning pulse pushers with a handful of fresh diversions. The new Run the World activity shows the most potential, simulated a jog through wire-framed replicas of New York and London. Unlike Wii Fit’s similar dash across Wuhu Island, players are presented with a persistent flow of trivia, detailing facts about passing landmarks. Although it would have been thrilling to sprint through actual Google Maps-like recreations of each city, as it stands the developers have made running in place much less tedious. Less successful is Juggle It, which simulates using your head, knees and feet to keep a soccer ball aloft. Between the exercise’s remote perspective and the tendency of the ball to bounce around erratically as it passes your torso, the activity fails to recreate the freeform enjoyment of actual ball juggling. Similarly, the game’s jump rope simulation requires the type of fast footwork that can stymie the Kinect. Although playable, expect to experience some combo breakers when the peripheral can’t keep up with the speed of your sneakers.
With regimens for abs, arms, glutes, legs, the back, as well as cardio, toning and yoga routines, Your Shape 2012 offers straightforward methods to target specific muscle groups. Agreeably, each zone contains a robust selection of sub-routines, which can cater to either brisk circuit-training sessions or protracted work-outs, as well as multiple levels of physical fitness. Depending on whether participants are looking to strengthen muscles, tone up while burning calories, or seeking a grueling P90X-intensity workout, a variant exists. Unlike last year’s routines, Your Shape 2012 includes a wholesome selection of ground exercises, offering consistently recognized push-ups and sit-ups. The one downside is that players have to lie parallel to the Kinect- which means occasionally craning your neck to match the cadence of your on-screen trainer. Thoughtfully, the presence of insightful and accurate verbal feedback means participants won’t have to keep their eye locked on the television throughout.
Recalling the calendar of a busy gym, Your Shape 2012 grants players access to a variety of workout classes- ranging from rhythmic stylings of Hip Hop, Bollywood, African, and Latin routines or even the Tae Bo-esque exercises found in Boot Camp and Cardio Boxing. For those seeking a less spirited (but no less challenging) regimen, the title also offers Yoga and Zen Energy, while off-season athletes can keep in shape with the game’s collection of eight specialized programs. Reminiscent of workout DVD’s, each variant offers at least two separate programs, presenting quite a lot of content. Although Your Shape 2012 tenders up the obligatory downloadable content (as well as routines unlocked through Ubisoft’s UPlay program and scanning in a bottle of G2 Gatorade), it’s pleasing that a sizable amount of substance is immediately playable.
Although the market is saturated with Kinect-based exercise disks such as The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout, Zumba Fitness, and EA Sports Active 2, players serious about self-improvement would be wise to skip those unresponsive titles and pick up Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012. Not only does the program offer considerably more content that the competition, its ability to track participant movement is peerless. While Your Shape 2012 won’t generate a virtual trainer that goad players into shape, it does the next best thing by providing a varied, functional and enjoyable workout that encourages persistence every high step of the way.