A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Your Shape: Fitness Evolved isn’t a game so much as it is a fitness trainer. Players create and follow their own workout regimens, which can involve classic exercises, cardio workouts, Tai Chi, and even a few fitness games. The objective is a healthy lifestyle, and much of what you learn can be applied outside the game. It is designed more for parents than children, but older kids can still get a lot out of it. Note that a Kinect sensor (not included) is required.
What's it about?
Not a game so much as a physical training program, YOUR SHAPE: FITNESS EVOLVED for Microsoft’s new controller-less Kinect platform is best compared to titles like Wii Fit and EA Sports Active. It allows players to set up personal training programs for themselves designed to burn calories, build muscles, and create tone. You begin by taking a fitness test and setting general goals, such as being able to climb stairs without becoming winded, improving appearance, or reducing stress. You can then further refine your objectives by selecting whether to do things like tone muscle after giving birth (clearly, this is a game geared more for grown-ups than kids) or focus on cardio workouts. Then you launch into the actual exercises, which range from basic lunges and squats to Tai Chi and cardio boxing. There are also a few fitness-themed mini-games that will have players doing things like punching blocks floating around their avatars and holding a virtual board in both hands to collect shapes falling from the ceiling.
Is it any good?
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved feels much more natural than most fitness trainers. You need not step on or hold anything (though some exercises suggest you add hand weights); just repeat what you see onscreen. It’s almost like a workout video, save that it’s interactive and the Kinect sensor measures, evaluates, and tracks everything you do.
However, there are couple of things you’ll want to consider before buying. First, this game requires a lot of room -- even more than some other Kinect games. Make sure space is cleared as far as 12 feet back. Second, the lag between real world movement and that of our avatar was plainly noticeable. During rhythm-based exercises, we needed to focus on the virtual trainer in order to keep tempo. These quibbles aside, fit-minded folks ought to be able to put Your Shape: Fitness Evolved to some good, healthy use.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about game-based fitness training. Does turning exercise into an interactive experience make it more appealing? Do you think you would be more likely to maintain a fitness routine in your living room than, say, at a gym?
Families can also discuss the freedom of movement allowed in this game as opposed to other trainers. Do you think this natural movement improves your workout? Is it more comfortable?
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