Your Shape Fitness Evolved review: More work than workout

The original Your Shape for Wii was marketed primarily as a post partum pudge-buster with new mom Jenny McCarthy leading the fitness charge, but left a lot of players cold. Now, with the advent of Kinect, the game has evolved and Jenny McCarthy has been replaced with generic fitness girl and fitness boy, in what can best be described as a frill-free but serviceable exercise in ... exercise games.

For all its talk of customized workouts tailored to your personalized goals, the sad truth is that Your Shape: Fitness Evolved really boils down a few standard questions about your age, gender, weight and lifestyle, while the Kinect sensor measures your height and length of your limbs -- there's no real way to gauge your fitness, flexibility or exertion level. (And it never it once suggested that I check my heart rate.) Yet where it struggles the most is in its lack of ability to motivate. With trainers devoid of personality and charm, and with very little in the way of actual personalization, there isn't really much here to get you to put down the controller and get up off your butt.
%Gallery-95784% The visual presentation is very sterile -- there are some random shapes floating here and there, but mostly it's just a kind of depressing geometric wasteland populated by expressionless workout drones. Plus, rather than use your Xbox Live avatar, the game presents an amorphous, vaguely human-shaped ... thing summoned from the depths of the Uncanny Valley as your stand-in. Oh, and it strong-arms you into taking a hopelessly unflattering and likely sweaty photo, that you just have to hope and pray will never inexplicably make its way out into the internet ether. Anyone who is not particularly keen to see all their bits wobble or is remotely mirror or camera shy is no doubt going to find this incredibly off-putting. And it begs the question: Why not allow the user to chose their Avatar or create an aspirational stand-in if the sensor is simply tracking their skeleton?

Speaking of the Kinect sensor, it'll have no part of yoga pants or sweats (or anything that doesn't cling to your form for dear life), so spandex or shorts are a must if you want to be in rhythm (which is basically the whole point of the game).

Truthfully, there is a lot of potential here, not the least of which is an impressive number of workouts available through personal training. There's cardio boxing, and two workouts created by Men's Health and Women's Health -- all of which will no doubt make you sweat, as even the easiest workouts do their job very effectively. Be prepared, though, to be launched directly into your workout without so much as a hamstring stretch. For whatever reason, the warm-up and cool-down, which are fundamental parts of any workout, do not exist in the geometric shape littered Animus that is the Your Shape universe. With some maneuvering of the phone-tree-like menu, one can find some Zen workouts that consist of a mixture of yoga, tai chi and palates. They're there, but if you hoped they would be integrated into your personal training, forget it. The selection of gym games range from the marginally fun Virtual Smash (a timed punching and kicking game) to the infuriating Light Race that only registered my feet in four of the six "panels" you're meant to activate á la Simon says.

Ultimately, despite the drawbacks and disappointments (oh that amorphous blob-thing!) I did get a decent workout -- the problem is, I had to work so hard for it. Your Shape Fitness Evolved won't replace your gym membership or motivate those who aren't already fitness-inclined, but for those looking to mix up their current routine or supplement their workout regimen, it may do the trick. Still, with all the other fitness games out there vying to be the fittest fit for your wallet, the franchise had better hurry up and evolve again.

This review is based on the 360 retail version of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved provided by Microsoft and Ubisoft. Rachel Shatto is a life-long avid gamer and managing editor of Curve Magazine. When she's not killing typos or polygonal baddies, she's hosting the semi-regular, horror themed Zombie Grrlz Podcast.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.