Our Early Impressions Of The WiiU
Release Date Late 2012 TBC
Our first and albeit very brief encounter with the WiiU has left me very much undecided. As a lifelong Nintendo fan I love the company for all the years of enjoyment they have given me, but in recent years I have been constantly let down by their subpar entries into the console market. They have moved from the forefront of technology to the very back. I own and still play my 8bit NES, my 16bit Super Nintendo, sometimes I’ll even dust off the N64 but the Wii, the DS and the 3DS all just sit there gathering dust. It says a lot when your 20 year old console offers more fun than your current ones.
With this in mind I will admit my interest in Nintendo’s new current gen console has been quite subdued. I will resist labelling it next gen despite so many other slapping the title on the WiiU for one simple reason, it is not a next gen console it is very much this generation.
The big difference is that huge touch screen controller and on the face of things it looks really bulky and impractical to use, but surprisingly it’s not. It is really light (but doesn’t feel cheap) and it just fits perfectly in your hands. Even better, it fits perfectly in big adult hands I could play with my thumbs stretched out at a normal angle something that has not happed for as long as I can remember. For the first time in a long time this could be a console I could easily put in hours of gameplay on and not end up getting weird shooting pains in my thumbs.
The touch screen opens up a whole new window of opportunity for the player to directly interact with the game. We have seen some early clips from Rayman where the player can interact with the backgrounds to alter the locations but in our “hands on” we got to test another one of Ubisoft’s titles called ZombiU.
In ZombiU the touch screen acts as a portal to your backpack (inventory) allowing you to quickly move your items around without too much fuss. It can also be used for accessing menu’s making browsing through the in game menus a whole lot easier. The game itself reminded us of a cross between Dayz and Dead Island, no bad thing I’m sure but more on that some other time.
Other titles will grant other possibilities such as Call of Duty can use the controller instead of opening an onscreen laptop to call in air strikes. Resident Evil springs to mind as another game heavy on inventory management that would benefit greatly from the new controller.
From a software point of view it does look like the WiiU will start to see a lot of titles at launch, EA have already announced Fifa 13 and Madden 13 are both coming to the WiiU in and around launch day along with Bioware’s Mass Effect 3, a first for Bioware to appear on a Nintendo console. Ubisoft also have a number of exciting titles including ZombiU and Rayman as mentioned above. Of course it goes without saying Mario will make an appearance before too long so for once there is no worry around the software side of things.
Hardware wise unfortunately it’s more of the same from Nintendo, as the other two main players are seemingly ramping up to release new cutting edge consoles in the next 18-24 months or so with Microsoft pretty much stopped developing for the 360 to focus on it next project. Their absence from Gamescom speaks volumes about their intentions on supporting the 360. Sony on the other hand are still putting a lot of effort into the PS3 but they won’t want to give Microsoft the head start they got the last time so we are expecting both to land in and around the same time. Performance wise the WiiU handled quite well, it was quick and responsive. The graphics are pretty good although this is hard to judge from one game that is known to not look amazing and the controller is actually a great little invention.
Overall: Nintendo’s WiiU is definitely on a par with the PS3 and Xbox but that’s just it. It is only as good as a console that is already 7 years old. The WiiU is coming with a good line up of launch games and I did really enjoy playing it and will seriously be considering laying down my hard earned money for it should I find myself particularly flush at launch day, but in the back of my mind I just help but think it is just 7 years too late which is a real shame as I do quite like the WiiU.