Efforts to compare the power of Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U to the practically obsolete PS3 and Xbox 360 have finally yielded results – and those hoping for the Wii U to at least beat – if not exceed – the capabilities of the lowly PS3 have been gravely disappointed.
Comparison of the Wii U edition of Batman: Arkham City and the various existing versions has given some insight into the system’s hardware capabilities – although the situation is complicated by the fact the Wii U version is not a straight port but rather an adapted and partially upgraded version.
Some of the initial comparisons were none too promising:
However, some experts are inclined to be more charitable in their conclusions (although they concede they are not even sure if the caps are actually rendered in real time), suggesting it may only be worse in some areas:
The scene is dramatically transformed but where there are some new additions, we also see cutbacks too.
Long-range draw distance appears to be pared back noticeably, while in the mid-distance we see missing buildings, and the introduction of minor new scenery like additional water towers. Curiously, thin geometry seems to be entirely absent in places for some reason.
We won’t draw definitive conclusions until we’re hands-on with actual code but it does seem to suggest that elements have been added and removed to better suit the capabilities of the hardware.
Reports continue to emerge from sources suggesting that Wii U is significantly more powerful than the current batch of titles may lead us to believe – the obvious inference being that these games have been created on incomplete hardware, perhaps with development tools that are still evolving, by studios unfamiliar with the hardware.
However, to survive the upcoming transition from the current HD consoles to their enormously improved successors, Wii U needs enough grunt to at least part-way bridge the generational gap – and there was scant evidence at E3 that the raw power required to do this was on tap.
Although graphical prowess is hardly likely to be a major concern to Nintendo, that even now it can barely compete with the current generation is hardly reassuring when a new generation of hardware is not far off.