WiiU Thoughts and Concerns

Now that I’ve had some time with the system and the initial excitement over the fact that it’s new has worn off, I feel like I can give an honest opinion. Away we go…

For the most part, my initial impressions remain true. Everything that I wrote and posted on the site after I unboxed the system still holds water. It’s the functionality of the system and some of its features that slightly concern me at this point.

1. Where are the games?
Ok, I realize that the WiiU has/had an extremely strong launch library. At least it seemed that way. Truth be told, its strongest titles that were available at launch, or shortly thereafter, were nothing more than ports of games that had already been released on other consoles. There were also games that were releasing at relatively the same time across all 3 consoles (Assassin's Creed III, Black Ops 2), but my question is: Where were the unique to WiiU third party titles? As far as I could tell, there was only 1 title that was both exclusive and would appeal to the “core gamer (man, I hate that term. I’m working on an article about how much I hate it):” Zombie U.
My initial impressions of Zombie U are not that great. I’ve played the demo and, quite frankly, I’m unimpressed. In fact, there were things about the game that I found atrocious, one of them being the controls. They’re extremely slippery most times and for some reason I found it very hard to aim my weapon, or even engage in melee combat properly. I don’t know what it is about the game, it just feels… off.

The thing about the game that is the most disappointing is that every game Zombie U is similar to is actually better than Zombie U itself. I know that sounds like a purely subjective statement, but I can’t help it. And this is going to sound like hyperbole, but I couldn’t help but think while playing the demo, “Man, this is like a crappy version of Dead Island. I’d rather just play that game.”

So, all that to say the only exclusive “core (3 rd party) game” for the WiiU is pretty underwhelming.
One thing that really concerns me is that Nintendo hasn’t really released any info regarding future titles. There have been small droplets of news such as that GTA-style Lego game… But, and I’m not trying to sound like a jerk here, not many people care about that game, myself included. I’m sure it will be a decent game, it’s just that if I want to play GTA, I’ll play GTA. In other words, GTA-Lego is not a “big” game. I’m sure that there will be bigger titles in the future, but right now, it’d probably work in Nintendo’s favor to at least start to let everybody in on some new, big game news. Third and first parties, alike.

2. The Gamepad
I’ll admit, I love the Gamepad… just not really for playing games. I’m not talking about the screen swapping features (that’s really cool), I mean having to use it during gameplay. For an example, I have to go again to Zombie U.

Your inventory in Zombie U is controlled by hitting a button and looking down at the Gamepad screen. Here, you can manage your items by using the touchscreen. The thing is, the game doesn’t pause, so you’re still vulnerable to attacks until you come back from looking in your bag. I understand that the purpose of this is to create a sense of realism like, “Oh no, son! You ain’t pausin’ this game! You better be quick with gettin’ stuff out yo’ bag,” but to me, it just makes gameplay frustrating. If I were in a real-life situation in which a zombie was coming after me and I needed something quickly from my bag, I’d be able to reach into the bag, feel around and pull out whatever it was I needed and keep running. Or heck, I could even feel through my bag WHILE running. Not so in Zombie U. If you press the inventory button, your character goes into a squat and starts rummaging through the bag. If you’re in a heavy spot with several zombies, forget it… you’re dead!

For something like ACIII which uses the touchscreen as simply a convenience, i.e. displaying your map, that’s fine. But actually making me have to play part of the game while looking down at my hands makes me feel like an amateur guitar player that can’t play without looking at the frets. I’m sure that at some point Nintendo and other companies will figure out new and unique ways to integrate the use of the controller, but for right now I’d rather use it to navigate menus and scroll through my Netflix que.

3. Technology
This is perhaps the biggest one. Graphics capabilities are something that constantly changes every single game in the tech world. Buy something awesome today, 2 weeks from now it’ll be outdated unless you buy the absolute top-of-the-line equipment. And even then, you never know. As it stands right now, the WiiU is on par with the PS3 and Xbox360 for the most part. I still believe that, just because it has the capability to run at 1080i (so does the PS3, oddly enough), it has the potential to best its competition in this department. The problem comes in when you try to figure out how long Nintendo will be able to hold its dominance if it ever obtains it.

It’s no secret that Microsoft and Sony are set to reveal their newest consoles at some point within the year. I figure we’ll at least see the new Xbox at E3 this year. How far advanced will they be? If the tech demos that have been shown are any indication, these things are going to be absolute monsters when it comes to graphical capability.

I own a gaming PC that is pretty much maxed out and is one of the best money can buy. I can run the 2 most graphically demanding games on the market (The Witcher 2 and Crysis 2 [And my rig far exceeds the recommended specs for Crysis 3]) with every video setting maxed out and still maintain a smooth, 60 frames per second. I don’t say this to brag, but to bring up a point: Again, if the tech demos for the next gen consoles are any indication, they will blow away my PC gaming rig. How will the WiiU stack up if that’s the case?

As we’ve seen happen in the past, 3 rd party developers tend to go where the tech is. Will third party developers stick by the WiiU, or will they quasi-abandon it as they’ve done with Nintendo’s last 3 home consoles?

In all fairness, the WiiU is only about 2 months old. The tides could turn on all fronts at any time during the rest of this year. Maybe those tech demos aren’t all they’re cracked up to be? Maybe the new Xbox and Playstation will only be on par with the high-end gaming PCs of today? Or maybe… just maybe… the WiiU has some kind of hidden power that Nintendo can unlock by simply releasing a downloadable patch. If this happened, it’d be the coolest thing in the history of gaming!
One way or the other, 2013 is going to be an interesting year for the future of video games!

Posted on January 18, 2013 .