Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Wii U review

So, I've had the Wii U for a few days now, so I thought that I would take the opportunity to post my initial thoughts.

First of all, the console itself. To be honest, there isn't really a lot to be said about the physical console, it looks very similar to the Wii, but slightly longer and black (I have the premium model). The focus is really on the controller and as such, I shall cover that is greater detail.

When I first took hold of the controller my initial impression was that it seemed smaller than I'd imagined it would be, secondly it felt much lighter than I'd imagined. Although the screen is smaller than that of the iPad, and the resolution is just 480p, the quality is still excellent and more than sufficient when playing games solely off of the controller. The placement of the control sticks and buttons takes a little while to get used to, but after a whole it becomes second nature. Overall then, I have been very impressed with the controller and the console so far.

I have to mention the fact that the Wii U requires a large firmware update before you can use all the functions. This comes in at approx 1gb to download and will probably take around 1-2 hours to download. You can if you wish, when asked by the Wii U, cancel the download initially, then this will download automatically in the background, allowing you to spend the first few hour of your console experience playing games, rather than watching a progress bar. This is not very clear in the text shown by Nintendo and as such a good many people have been frustrated by this initial setup. Luckily, it was all fine for me, but all the same, it is not an ideal start and it is something that Nintendo really should have had in place when releasing the Wii U.

The really killer app with the Wii U (besides the unique controller) has to be Miiverse. This is installed following the firmware update and is the Nintendo social network that runs alongside the Wii U. It comes across as a mixture of Twitter, pictochat and a forum and works very well. I've also been very pleasantly surprised that so far there has not been any negative sides to Miiverse (such as online trolls and the normal idiots that you often find online). Instead Nintendo seem to have fostered a very positive community with Miiverse, and I hope that this continues. An example that I would give would be that I was struggling with a particular enemy in the Zelda minigame in Nintendoland, so pressed the home button, went into Miiverse and posted asking for help (including a screenshot showing where I was struggling), within minutes, I'd already received a few helpful replies. So overall I have been very impressed with Miiverse as well as the creativity of some of the artwork posted on this.

There has been some debate as to the actual power of the Wii U when compared to the PS3 and 360. From my experience I would say that the graphics do exceed that of the PS3, but only marginally so (I can't really comment in relation to the 360). So not a huge leapt, but then again I'm not someone who is craving anything that much more at present and as such, this hasn't been an issue for me in the slightest.

A quick note on the games that I have played.

Nintendoland - I have to say that I didn't have that high expectations for his and if it wasn't included with the premium pack, I probably wouldn't have bothered with it. I have however found that I have been very pleasantly surprised. There is a good mix of games included, all of which make good use of the different game pad functions. It is great on your own, but even better with a group of people. An essential purchase with the Wii U.

New Super Mario U - I have only played a bit of this so far, as I am saving this to play together with my family, but what I have played so far had been great fun. If you enjoyed that Wii version, I would also recommend this.

ZombiU - This is how Survivor horror games used to be. It's hard, very hard. This, however is a good thing, just don't go into it expecting your regular FPS, this is more like the old Resident Evil games but from a first perspective view. It also makes excellent use of the controller. So if you are looking for an old school difficult game, which is inventive and interesting, I'd also recommend this.

Sonic Racing - Got this as part of a bundle, but wasn't very impressed, as such returned it quickly and instead got:

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 - I haven't played a COD game in ages, but what I have played of this so far has impressed me. The campaign seems impressive and online works smoothly, the only complaint that I would say is that the online community is not as large as the other 2 consoles, but then again the Wii U is only just out. If you haven't go this yet and are interested, I can confirm that it works a treat on the Wii U.

Nano Assault Neo - a great twin stick shooter. Reminds me very much of Super Stardust, and that is good praise indeed.

Trine 2 Director's Cut - Have only had a quick go of this do far, but boy are the graphics impressive. It also seems to make good use of the gamepad. I'm really looking forward to putting more time into this.

I haven't mentioned yet, but the ability to be able to play a large percentage of the games without using a TV is also a killer feature. Should my wife wish to watch TV whilst I am playing, this is not an issue at all, I can just continue playing on the gamepad. I can see that this would be a huge bonus for most families.

So that's it, my initial impressions. To sum up, I would say that I have been very impressed so far. Once more Nintendo are doing there own thing, the console is certainly unique and different and I can't wait to see how developers utilise this further down the line.

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