So you have finally decided it's time to get up off of that couch and do something about all the weight you have gained in the endless quest for more achievement points. Now it's time to decide what you are going to do to shed those pounds. You want to get a gym membership but the monthly cost is too expensive, or maybe you are too self conscious to work out in front of other people. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (YS:FE for the remainder of this review) is perfect for you.
I was skeptical at first. I did not want to end up with a newer version of Wii Fit on my Xbox. Although innovative Wii Fit was lacking practicality. Having a balance board, controllers and cords when working out is a nuisance. This is where YS:FE truly shines. In YS:FE the only controller you need is your body. On initial startup YS:FE will scan your body and determine leg length, shoulder width and various other features. Based on the measurements it will predict roughly what your weight is or should be. For my wife it was spot on. However, when I stepped in front of the TV to do my initial setup it was roughly 15lbs off.
After the initial scan you will be brought to the Main Menu where you can select one of three main categories; Personal Trainer, Gym Classes, and Gym Games (or something to that effect). Each mode contains separate sub categories.
The personal training is the most personalized of all the modes offered in YS:FE. On initial startup it will have you do some basic exercises to get your heart rate going. Exercises include lunges, jumping jacks, squats, and many more. The personal trainer will also ask what you are wanting to accomplish, whether it be toning or losing weight it will come up with a program personalized to your needs to an extent. These classes are done with a male or female trainer (your choice) and must be done in sync with the trainer. It is important that while learning new exercises you stay in sync with your trainer or the reps will not count down, leaving you doing the same exercise more than necessary. Once you have learned the exercise the computer will let you get away with being out of sync but not without scolding you for it. I recommend light free weights or bands for these exercises to increase effectiveness.
Gym class contain two types of classes Cardio Bozing and Zen Yoga, each containing varying degrees of difficulty; Bronze through Gold. Cardio Boxing (My personal favorite) generally consists of 2-3 4 minute introductory classes primarily to teach you the exercises, followed by a 12 minute class that it combines all of the short classes leading up to it. When you unlock the full class you also unlock the next level/difficulty of classes. From what I have noticed this also seems to be the quickest (legitimate) way to burn calories for the achievement hunters that still wish to burn calories the right way. Zen Yoga is also included and is a great way to warm up and cool down before and after your exercise. Much like the cardio boxing there are three classes bronze through gold and multiple stepping stones. The Kinect will monitor your posture on this one as well to make sure you are doing each stance properly as well as advise you what you need to fix as you go.
Gym Games contains Virtual Smash, Light Race, Loop-a-Hoop, and Stack 'Em Up. Each game can be played either by yourself or with multiple people. The first game, virtual smash, is a boxing mini game where you punch and kick boxes as they light up. You have to punch or kick across your body for it to count. The faster you hit the box the more points you earn. Higher difficulties include ducking to dodge a swinging object. Light race reminds me of Simon for some reason, only rather than memorization you just have to step on tiles as they light up in various directions. The quicker you step on the correct tile the more points you earn. In Loop-a-hoop you grab a virtual hoop and play hula hoop. The faster you spin the more multipliers you get and thus the faster your points rack up. Make sure you spin properly or the hoop will stop spinning reducing your multiplier. Loop-a-hoop is a great ab workout. Lastly Stack 'Em Up is a balance based game where you hold a virtual board and catch falling objects and balance them. The higher they stack the more points that "stack up" then when the compartment to the side of you opens up you dump your stack in.
YS:FE is a great way to get fit at home. The question on everyone's mind is whether or not it works. I can say from personal experience and use that yes it does. It's refreshing to have a workout program that is effective, I have been sore more than a few times since I started using YS:FE. I have also found myself getting winded less easily than before thanks to the cardio programs. You can see exactly how much calories you are burning with each exercise program you do. Calorie based achievements is a great addition and is also a great motivator, or at least it is for me. I often find myself saying "if I just burn 100 more calories I will unlock a new achievement today."
So why only 4 out of 5 stars? Although a great idea and very effective tool it is not without flaws. Most of it's flaws however are related to the online profile that you can set up along with it. You will start by setting up a uPlay account. So far uPlay is great. For those of you who don't know or don't have uPlay it is a program specific to Ubisoft games that much like achievements awards you points for completing certain things in game. These points can be used to unlock additional in game content. On YS:FE for example you can unlock an X360 dashboard background and additional exercises. However, that is not the flaw. 3 of the games 33 achievements are linked to www.yourshapegame.com. One of them is simple, all you have to do is link your profile and then next time you work out you will get the achievement. The other two are the problem, the challenge system from what we have noticed is sloppy. Challenges are goals that you can set for yourself and other people on your friends list that have YS:FE to see who can get a challenger selected amount of calories burned the fastest. My wife and I initially started by trying to challenge each other but for some reason the challenges were not showing up either in game or on the website. I found out that what we had to do to unlock the achievement was challenge myself only, no other people. This is fine if all you want is the achievement but if you are trying to motivate another person by giving them new challenges and challenging friends it seems ineffective. The last achievement requires that you subscribe to an online event to obtain. So far these "online events" are not available on the website and to my knowledge do not have a release date.
In short YS:FE is a great way to work out and get in shape in the comfort and privacy of your own home. This is a must have for Kinect owners.