As the years went on, each new Call of Duty game had a Wii version that was just more of the same. They were thought of as the weird cousin to the more powerful console versions on the market.
I'm very proud - and admittedly a little surprised myself - to announce that all of that has changed.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II for the Wii U is on par, or in some cases exceeds its console brethren.
I'm not going to go over the game in general, as I already did that in my previous Call of Duty: Black Ops II review. I will, however, talk about the new features that the Wii U and its unique Gamepad controller bring to the franchise.
First of all, graphically, Black Ops II looks better on the Wii U than it does on the PS3. I have played both and can officially make that comparison. The campaign mode plays smoother and the shadows are darker and the detail is more refined. In fact, in my previous review, graphics were one of the issues I had with the game. Not so here. The Wii U is the first true HD Nintendo game system, and if the way Black Ops II looks is any indication, gamers everywhere are in for a treat.
Control wise, players can use the Gamepad, or the new Wii U Pro Controller, which looks and feels like an Xbox 360 controller, or Classic Controller Pro attachment, or just the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. The variety and choice afforded is wonderful.
But really, on the Wii U, the Gamepad is the must-use controller. The touch screen is very handy, especially in multiplayer.
The Gamepad screen shows the full map constantly and players can call in scorestreaks just by touching the screen. You can also change weapon loadouts without pausing the game in the middle of a fight. The Gamepad also serves as the second screen in "split-screen" games, so two people can play, each with a dedicated screen.
My favorite feature of the Gamepad screen is the ability to switch screens with the TV and transfer the entire game onto the smaller screen. This allows me to continue playing full-featured online multiplayer while my wife watches TV. This works wonderfully and there is zero degradation of the picture, other than it being smaller.
When I say that Call of Duty: Black Ops II on the Wii U is full-featured, I truly mean it. The game retains all of the online multiplayer game modes, such as Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Capture the Flag, and the "Pick 10" create-a-class system is in full effect. All of the weapons and attachments are the same, as is the prestige and level up system. Treyarch didn't skimp on any of the features for the Wii U game.
League play, which matches players based on skill in a competitive ladder competition, the newly revamped Combat Training, which allows the player to earn XP while learning how to play the game against bots and later a combination of bots and human players, and Theater and COD TV are all represented. Sadly, Elite is not available on the Wii U, but this could change in the future.
It also begs to be mentioned that there is almost zero lag while playing Black Ops II online on the Wii U system. The screens load faster and multiplayer games seem to start quicker. This could be contributed to the lack of players, as the Wii U is a brand new system, and is still finding its way into gamer's homes. Hopefully this changes with the holiday, and a dedicated community of players can find people to play with in greater numbers.
For many years, gamers with Nintendo consoles were stuck playing an inferior version of a great franchise. With the Wii U, Treyarch and Activision are finally able to bring a full-featured Call of Duty game to a Nintendo system. The game looks better and plays better than the version I have played thoroughly on the PS3. The Gamepad is a wonderful addition to the controller options, and the Call of Duty experience, for lack of a better term, is made so much better for it.
The touch screen makes for simple on-the-fly loadout changes and scorestreak rewards, such as Hunter Killer drones and UAV recon planes. When playing with friends, it acts as a true second screen, and each game mode; campaign, multiplayer, and even Zombies can be played solely on the smaller screen.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II for the Wii U is not a port of another game on another system, but a true dedicated version of the game, as it should be. Finally, gamers can play a Call of Duty game on a Nintendo system just like everybody else. And it's about time.
- Jon Hueber
This review is based on the Wii U version of the game that was supplied by the publisher.
Shop for Call of Duty: Black Ops II on Wii U for a discounted price with free shipping at Amazon.com (November 18, 2012 release date).