Review: Shape Up
With Shape Up arriving in time to blast away those wobbly bellies post-Xmas boozing and feasting a fitness game needs to compete against the latest wave in celebrity fitness DVDs that come out around now. To compete it needs to offer a good workout but also provide the interactivity that DVDs simply cannot provide. Shape Up thankfully succeeds in doing both.
Shape Up combines the typical exercise routines that we’re used to such as squats, punching and much more combined with fun, game style activities. This really does get the heart racing but it doesn’t mean the fun dissipates. Combined with high scores that beg (and should!) be beaten it means there’s more quantifiable feedback from what you’re doing. Unlike generic exercise DVDs you know if you’re actually improving day by day, week by week, month by month.
The biggest benefit of this game compared to a DVD is the camera recording you as you work out. Not only does it record your ghost data to compete against but it’s also shareable with your friends so they can try and beat you. The reverse applies too and they can challenge you too. The camera also projects your image into the game, turning you into the star of the game as you complete workout routines. In some ways I’m actually inclined to use the word activities as sometimes it feels like your playing a game that gets you working up a sweat, rather than simply being an exercise title.
Being a fitness game at heart there must be some good options and features to track what your doing. You can choose short burst training sessions that last a minute or so or you can (and should if you’re doing it properly) choose the long-term 4-week goal oriented sessions. Even this is more exciting than it sounds as it’s built around a quest to beat a characters. For example the first “boss” is The Beatmaster where you tackle a cardio quest in Tokyo over the course of the month. Plus all the vital stats are kept so you see how many calories (roughly at least, no idea quite how accurate it is) you’ve burned for example.
But, and here’s the big but, being a Kinect title the space issue is still a big problem. I’ve barely got space in front of the TV to stand up and play Just Dance by myself let alone Kinect getting the entire floor in view to track me doing push ups. This is really the only thing letting the game down and it’s not the game’s fault but the supporting technology just isn’t suited to most people’s homes. It’s a great shame and the only area where a typical exercise DVD will rule for a good while yet.
Shape Up uses a calming, cool and fun art style that combines retro style chip tunes and sprite artwork along old-school arcade graphics. Instead of taking place in a boring gym, exercise routines can take place around a volcano and populated by a few dinosaurs. Far more interesting that your local David Lloyd or Virgin Active. At first I though the personal trainer would get annoying like and embarrassing like Mac in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia about his fitness and strength but the more I played the more I found him entertaining and saying the right things to keep you going, despite being only a digital presence.
To sum up
If you’ve got the space to play the game and want to lose weight whilst having some fun, you can’t go wrong with Shape Up. It’s probably the best fitness game around and far better than I ever imagined it to be. Now there’s no excuse for gamers to have a belly!
Format review: Xbox One
Shape Up is out now on Xbox One.