We've heard numerous conflicting reports regarding Wii U's processing power, and the common theme has been that the system is just as powerful – or a little less powerful – than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. No matter how nifty the system's tablet controller is, its lack of graphical output can easily be the system's bane.
Nintendo fanboys like to say that graphics don't matter. It's ironic because Nintendo was once the leader in the console industry as far as power goes, with the Super NES, Nintendo 64, and even GameCube being very capable systems. In the case of the N64 and GameCube, those systems received shoddy third party support (or none at all) due to using cartridges and small disc space, respectively. Now that Nintendo has gone the frugal route with low cost, weak systems, graphics suddenly become irrelevant.
But ask any developer: the reason why The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or Mass Effect 3, or Batman: Arkham City aren't on Wii is because the system can't handle those games. It's not that the developer is “too lazy” to port down those titles; if they did that, Wii owners would end up with horrid or gimped versions, much like we've seen with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Dead Space: Extraction. The Call of Duty series on Wii is somewhat of an exception – the controls being their saving grace – but nobody can honestly say they prefer Call of Duty on Wii over the Xbox 360 version. The experience simply is not the same.
It goes beyond making pretty looking games, though. Okami is a last-generation game and it still looks gorgeous – art style ultimately trumps extreme realism in many cases. The problem is that a Wii U running six year old tech won't be able to compete with the new Xbox and PlayStation, and there's absolutely no reason to think that Microsoft and Sony won't release hardware that's at least twice as powerful as the current gen. More powerful hardware allows for more realistic physics engines and incredibly intelligent AI.
Epic's Unreal Engine is one of the most commonly used engines in games, and it's a good thing that Wii U fully supports Unreal 3. That will be useful for a year or two, until Unreal 4 launches and developers flock to that.
“We're aiming very high right now [with Unreal 4], and the intended platforms this is aimed at haven't even been announced,” Epic's Tim Sweeney said on Tuesday.
Wii U's launch this year is great timing by Nintendo, because the system should get some great third party support early on, when the hardware is still on par with the competition. Once Sony and Microsoft's new machines release, however, that third party support will likely wane because Wii U won't be able to support their new engines. The system will be in the same boat as Wii: very little third party support (if at all), with the only quality titles coming from Nintendo themselves, with a few exceptions here and there.
The only way Wii U's lack of power won't be the bane of its existence is if the tablet controller goes beyond being nifty and is truly revolutionary. From what some third parties have said, there's a chance this may be the case, but for now Wii U's potential is very much in doubt.
“This is disappointing. I really thought Nintendo would have known better,” said iNintendo's Joey E. “Guess I'll be sticking with PC gaming.”
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 20:07|