A worthy fitness game that benefits from arriving first.
The other day, I realized I've played a decent number of fitness games: both Wii Fit titles, Your Shape for Kinect, and now Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013. From this perspective, I can safely say that each game offers something unique, but, frankly, I wish I could take the best elements from each and mash them together. Still, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 is a pretty good workout game that benefits from having total Wii U market share for the time being.
Your Shape's greatest strength is its variety. The game features strength exercises, cardio workouts, yoga sessions, krumping routines, dance cardio, and even Just Dance-inspired sections with the music of LMFAO, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and more. Your Shape also unlocks plenty of routines across each difficulty from the start, so you won't have to meander about in low-level routines trying to unlock the more difficult workouts. Plus, once you grow tired of what's available, you can spend the coins you earn while playing to unlock new routines.
Aside from simply picking your own routines at random, you can have Your Shape develop a workout program tailored to what you are looking for. You pick an area to work on, like losing weight or increasing balance, how often you'd like to work out each week, and how many weeks the program should run, and Your Shape generates a program for you to return to every other day. I thought this feature was pretty cool and actually did a good job of incorporating exercises you might skip (like krumping, for me) in order to build a varied routine that, indeed, seemed to work for its intended purpose.
Your Shape also has a number of auxiliary features to keep users engaged and promote wellness outside of exercising alone. A news feed, available from the game's main menu, displays your friends' progress and medals, an obvious tactic to keep you motivated and engaged in the game. Also included is an extensive recipe section, broken up into categories like weight loss, kid friendly, etc. You can filter these recipes so you only see vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options, which I loved. This focus on more than exercise in achieving total wellness really impressed me.
Still, while Your Shape has some great features and a ton of variety in workouts, it stumbles in tracking your workout and overall progress. Where Your Shape for Kinect was able to actually watch your movements and (somewhat) accurately rate your execution, this version has you hold a Wii Remote the entire time and grades you based on its movement. As you can imagine, this is an entirely imprecise system. You can execute a move the same way twice, but it will register as "awesome" once and then simply "OK" the next. It's frustrating, because the game calculates your calories burned based off how well you do and presents you with an overall score at the end, often lower than it should be. This can be discouraging, especially for someone who is just starting to get into working out.
Also, with no Balance Board support, it is up to the player to track his own weight loss outside of the game, which seems like a missed opportunity. Basically, if you want to get an accurate idea of your progress, you'll need a heart rate monitor to calculate your calorie loss and a scale to measure your weight loss. That's a lot of added expense.
As with most of these fitness games, it is also important to make sure you perform the exercises correctly so you don't pull or strain something. Your Shape doesn't teach you how to do any of the routines beforehand, so you learn by watching your fitness trainer perform them on the screen. This is fine for the most part, but when it comes to the stretches and yoga positions, it's easy to put strain on your back or neck while trying to look at the screen to make sure you are performing correctly. It's not hard to imagine people waking up sore the next day because they were doing something incorrectly.
Oh, and it isn't a huge deal, but the game doesn't feature the ability to play off-screen, which is weird. You literally do everything on the GamePad up until the workout begins, then you have to pick up your Wii Remote and look at the TV. It would have been nice to be able to workout while watching something else.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 is a solid game. The variety of things to do as well as the auxiliary features, such as the news feed and recipe section, set it apart from its competitors; whatever you are looking for in your workout routine, Your Shape has something for you. The personalized workout generator is a great tool, as well. However, the game does a poor job of tracking your performance. If knowing your exact execution and calorie loss isn't that big of a deal, then Your Shape is right up your alley. Otherwise, be prepared to purchase some other equipment to track your progress on your own.