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Your Shape on the Wii is not a fun game, but that isn't a criticism. With their latest addition to the increasingly crowded exercise game market Ubisoft have resisted the temptation to water down the hard work by trying to make things fun: there's no flying like a chicken, or water skiing, and no sunny islands. Your Shape has taken what made the granddaddy of exercise games, My Fitness Coach, such a great workout and added a unique technological twist.
Your Shape is very much like My Fitness Coach on the Wii, the concentration is on exercise that wouldn't be out of place in an old-style fitness video. The presentation is similarly very simple, just your trainer "Eva" showing you the moves for you to mimic. What's new is that you join your trainer onscreen through a camera that plugs into your Wii and perches on-top of your TV. This allows Your Shape to assess your shape, recommend the areas you should concentrate on, and track your movements while you work out. There's no need to faff around with controllers, so you won't be stopping and starting all the time.
The idea of motion capture for computer games had a lot of coverage in 2009 with the announcement of Microsoft's Project Natal, which caused much excitement. My first thought upon seeing the demos was to wonder what it held for the world of fitness games. However Microsoft have been pretty quite on Natal ever since and there are still no products based on it, so it has been left to Ubisoft to fill in that gap while we wait to see what Redmond have up their collective sleeves.
With no controls to worry about, the routines are continuously intense. You'll really work up a sweat and burn calories.
The camera looks like any normal webcam, but has a decent wide angle lens so it can see most of your room. However it can be pretty picky about your setup. It needs to be able to pick you out from your surroundings and can get confused by spotlights, or if your clothes are a similar colour to the walls. So you'll need to wear contrasting clothes to help you stand out.
If you can get your environment right, the motion capture seems to work pretty well. Unfortunately there is no way to properly test your setup. Your Shape shows you the raw video from the camera but doesn't show you how it interprets what it sees, so it's hard to know how well the camera is working until you start working out. I found that my pasty white arms and legs against the pale walls of my living room did cause it occasional problems, which in turn led to it nagging me about things I am fairly certain I was doing just fine, but it couldn't see properly. Moving around the room to a different spot helped, but it is immensely irritating to be told you are not doing something correctly purely because the sun happens to be shining in through the curtains.
The workouts are simple and to the point. Eva demonstrates the moves and you follow along. If you have a step, free weights, or an exercise ball, your workouts can include these, otherwise it's just floor exercises for which you will need a reasonable amount of space (about 8-10 feet square in front of your TV). With no controls to worry about, the routines are continuously intense. You'll really work up a sweat and burn calories. My burn rate was around 600 an hour according to my pulse meter, that's as good as working out at the gym and very impressive for exercising at home.
This lets you fit in a really good workout in just fifteen minutes if you want, or really burn those calories when you have the time to spare. You can set your routine length in 15 minute chunks and they will be automatically generated to fit. And it will fit perfectly, unlike EA Sports Active which always underestimates the time of my routines. This means that every routine is different, although the range or exercises is not vast so you'll get to know them quite well..
Your Shape is a fantastic workout for those who want to get serious.
Your Shape is currently the best exercise game for people who really need to burn calories and work on their cardio, but it lacks the polish of Wii Fit and EA Sports Active. The setup of the camera is so critical to how well it works that the lack of a test facility is a major issue for me. There were also small niggles which suggest it was rushed out the door, such as not being able to change your vital statistics once you had setup your profile, the fact that the trainer talks far too much, or odd moments when the trainer would "review your progress" but nothing was actually said.
However these are minor, and shouldn't detract from the fact that Your Shape is a fantastic workout for those who want to get serious, and would make an excellent counterpoint to one of the more fun oriented games out there.
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