These days, console launch line-ups always include ports of previously-released successes. Last month’s Wii U launch was certainly no different, as the system hit retail stores alongside quite a few notable re-releases. Expectedly so, none of those were as popular as Call of Duty: Black Ops II, the latest entry in gaming’s most popular series. However, the question remains as to whether the GamePad controlled version is, in fact, the de facto one.
Earlier this fall, I published an in-depth review of the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which received a deservedly high score. That particular article happens to contain my full opinion of the game, while this one will mainly focus on its Wii U iteration. Please note that my previously published thoughts have not changed.
The most important thing to note here is that the men and women from Treyarch did not make concessions when they decided to port their pride and joy onto Nintendo’s new device. As such, what you’ll find on these branded discs is the full game, complete with its three main modes: Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies. That means you won’t end up missing out by deciding to pick this version up instead of one of its peers.
Things play out exactly as you’d expect. Although the GamePad is the primary control option, not much has changed. You’ll still be controlling the playable heroes and your created soldier classes using traditional inputs, making use of all of the pivotal accessory’s buttons. That’s a good thing, because it mimics what we’re used to, while incorporating a few helpful touchscreen mechanics. Those mainly pertain to options, though, allowing users to change their sensitivity and inversion on the fly, thus creating a dual-screen experience.
As with a lot of the other launch titles, players can move the action away from their home theatre systems, and onto their high-tech controllers. That works very well, and without issue, although doing so during multiplayer matches eliminates the map diagrams that the screen usually shows. Of course, if you can’t use a TV to play, it’s not like you have any other options.
Those who are worried about missing out on great multiplayer matches by choosing to go with this particular version need not worry. The intense and bullet-filled tour de force that made the Call of Duty series famous is available in full regard, and league play is even an option, though shoutcasting is not. However, being that the Wii U is a brand new console, you can’t go in expecting to see thousands upon thousands of players online. When I was trying to outdo fellow human players, there happened to be less than 1000 people online. Granted, that should improve as more people gain access to the system and its games.
Although the Wii U version of Call of Duty: Black Ops II is impressive, it is not a flawless port. While it looks quite good, and definitely competes with its peers in that regard, it’s marred by a sluggish and unstable frame rate. Hopefully an update will patch the problem, but we’ll have to wait and see. Granted, even though the problem exists, it’s not game breaking by any means. You’ll find that things still run pretty well, and will become accustomed to the occasional choppiness. It’s too bad, though, because the audio is of high quality, and the aforementioned sluggishness is the only thing that really holds this release back.
To conclude, this particular iteration should only be purchased by Nintendo exclusive gamers. If you happen to own another high-definition console, you’d be better off purchasing Black Ops II for it. By doing so, you’ll receive stable frame rates, and will be able to compete against a much larger amount of players during online play. However, that isn’t to say that this particular version isn’t worth playing, because it certainly is. Apart from the noted frame rate issue, there aren’t any design problems to complain about.
This review is based on a Wii U copy of the game that we received for review purposes.