The fitness genre is one that has exploded in the years that followed the release of Nintendo’s Wii Fit. Previously seen as little more than entertainment devices, consoles were now gaining a whole new following from people who saw the opportunity to utilize them as lifestyle devices. In the fallout of Wii Fit, it seemed as though every major development studio in the world wanted to get a piece of the fitness pie, and many tried, and failed, to stamp their authority on the blossoming genre. One title that did manage to hit the spot is Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, and it made its Wii U debut as part of the system’s launch lineup last month.
We’ve had Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 for about a month now, and we’ve been trying our best to stick to our various fitness regimes in order to serve up an accurate review of the strengths and weaknesses of the software. To our surprise, it has been relatively easy to stick to the plans created for us by the game, even if the first few forays into the game’s gym were slightly more difficult than we had expected.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 offers players, if that’s even the right word for those who partake in it, the ability to select how they would like to work out. You can select plans for core strengthening, weight loss or relaxation, as well as being able to jump into the game’s various exercises as you unlock them. It all kicks off by creating a player profile. Here you’ll choose your age, gender, height, weight and fitness level – make sure to be honest though, because the game can’t accurately track your burnt calories if you’ve been fibbing to it!
Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to take a look around the game’s well laid out menus. You’ll have access to the bulk of the in-game material right from the start, but just be aware that to get the most out of the game you’re going to need to unlock things as you go. None of them are particularly out of your grasp, regardless of how out of shape you may be, but it’s something we’d rather not have to do in a game that’s supposed to be focused on getting you back into fighting condition.
The Play menu hosts the bulk of the good stuff, and from here you’ll be able to access the different exercise classes, workouts, your progress to date (and that of your friends if you’d like to connect with them online) and, most importantly, the Program section. Since this is the area we assume most people are interested in from a game like Your Shape, we’ll be focusing predominantly on it for the duration of the review.
On your first visit to the Program section you’ll be able to choose which type of program you’d like to partake in, its duration and the amount of times per week you’d like to work out. It’s all very versatile and structured in such a way as to be accommodating for those of you who lead busy lives – so there’s no excuse for missing a planned exercise session! You can choose from a variety of targeted programs aimed to help you reduce stress, increase stamina or build muscle, the amount of time you’d like your program to last for (1, 2 or 4 weeks), how many sessions per week should be included in the program and which style of program you’d like to focus on. The latter is perhaps a touch confusing at first, offering slightly cryptic descriptions like Fighting and Zen, but once you get used to what’s offered you’ll better understand exactly what’s meant by each.
From here, it’s time to jump into your first workout. We’ll be honest and admit that we weren’t quite sure what to expect, given the fact that the Wii U doesn’t have any full body tracking capabilities, but it makes fine use of the Wii Remote (a Motion Plus enabled device is preferable for increased accuracy). Depending on the program you chose, you’ll be asked to follow the on-screen direction of your virtual trainer through a series of drills, with your score being determined by how accurately you mimic what you see.
We’re not exactly the most coordinated bunch, so we’re not ashamed to admit that it took us a while to really get to grips with some of the exercises, but the amount of repetition really does help. One, more telling problem, that we faced in the first week of our program, however, was the fact that Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 pushes you a lot harder than you might have been anticipating. There’s nothing hugely strenuous in the exercises, but the amount of time we spent with our arms extended really did punish our shoulders initially. As we continued to forge ahead though, things did start to get a little less… shall we say… painful.
That’s really the beauty of the game though. You might well find yourself wanting to throw in the towel after a few days, but if you soldier on you’ll start to notice improvement, and with improvement comes renewed desire to push yourself even more – and thus the cycle of fitness starts to take hold.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that this game isn’t a miracle worker. If you’re seriously out of shape then it’s not going to turn you into an underwear model, but it will slowly and surely increase your core fitness level. From that point it’s going to be up to you to actually get off your ass and into a gym, or take up running, for example. You’re only going to get as much out of it as you put in, and that’s not necessarily going to sit well with people hoping for a cut price, fast track solution to weight loss.
Thankfully though, there’s more here to keep you playing than just your dedicated programs. Since it’s recommended you take a break of a day between each of your program sessions, there are other activities to keep yourself in the routine. Whether you fancy dancing the pounds away along to a number of popular, up-tempo dance tracks from artists like Rihanna, Chic and LMFAO, or you’re searching for inner peace and enlightenment, there are activities for you.
The dance exercises are surprisingly fun, and will certainly get you moving, while the Zen side of the game is a little on the strange side for us – though we’ve never really had problems with stress or anything like that, so we can’t give an accurate idea of whether or not it’ll work to combat that type of thing for you.
If neither of those are up your street, there’s a huge selection of more than 125 workouts and 200 exercises for you to sink your teeth into, ensuring that you’re never too far away from a new experience. And if you work better with a little bit of peer pressure to fill your sails, you have the option of using the game’s online community to spur you on. You’ll be able to share your unlocked awards and progress with your friends, while also checking out their progress. It’s not mandatory as part of the game, but it’s something we would recommend you try out.
Finally, there’s also the pleasant addition of countless recipes for you to try out. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a Jamie Oliver, you’ll have no problem whipping up a storm in the kitchen to create an assortment of tasty delights that will help you attain your ultimate goal, whether that’s weight loss or muscle building. It’s a really neat little addition that ensures you’ll come back to the game regularly, while also offering the potential for you to change your eating habits for the better, plus the fact that the recipes are displayed on the GamePad make them even more useful – just bring the controller into the kitchen with you and away you go!
It’s difficult to score a game like Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 given the fact that it’s so dependent on you sticking to its routine, but after spending a month with it we’re convinced that it can play a role in changing your life for the better. There are a huge number of activities and workouts for you to try, each focusing on a different area of the body, and it’s unlikely that too many people will find it too repetitious. The presentation is top notch, and it’s always encouraging you to push yourself that little bit further each time, but you really need to remember that it’s not a replacement for other types of physical exercise; it’s either a starting point for the extremely unfit, or a supplementary tool for those who want to stay in tip top condition.