We’ll admit it--we were surprised when Activision took the stage at Nintendo’s Wii U event today to reveal Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 as a “launch window” game for the new console. For years, Call of Duty has danced around Nintendo platforms, and to see a full-fledged COD making its way to the system near launch was exciting. After going hands-on with the game using both the GamePad and the Wii U Pro Controller we were convinced that the system can, technically, handle the Call of Duty series, even if it feels a bit awkward.
Above: Watch our interview from the Nintendo press conference
The game itself felt identical to the versions found on other consoles. On the GamePad’s screen and the television, Black Ops 2 on the Wii U looked pretty much like Black Ops 2 on the Xbox 360. We’re sure that if it was put up directly next to a another version we might have noticed some differences, but, alone, it looks splendid, running at 60FPS even when the system’s power is split exporting to both the TV and the GP (which is what, as of now, we’re shortening the GamePad to).
Where it diverges from other versions is in the actual controller itself. Both the GP and the Wii U Pro controller have their analog sticks on the top, as opposed to the offset Xbox 360 and the bottom-oriented Dualshock. At first we thought we’d be able to adapt quickly to the change, but after some time with both controllers we found it incredibly disorienting. We’d constantly reach towards the reload button and end up changing weapons, and we’d have to look down at the buttons to see where they were just for reference--something we haven’t had to do with a controller in over a decade. Some of this can be relearned, but there’s a certain amount of muscle memory we’ve gained that we don’t think we’re going to be able to easily ditch, especially after nearly 15 years spent with the right analog stick on the bottom of the controller.
After a match we turned in our GamePad and tried Black Ops 2 on the Wii U Pro controller to see if that would make a difference. Despite looking almost exactly like an Xbox 360’s controller, however, we ended up with the same issues. It felt more ergonomic and suited for FPS, but moving our thumb down to hit buttons felt unnatural. Even after two multiplayer matches we were still switching weapons when we wanted to reload.
It wasn’t a huge issue, just a constant minor inconvenience, and one that, with some practice, can be fixed as we have more time with the controller. The good news, though, is that Black Ops 2 on the Wii U is as complete and fluid an experience as we could have hoped, and will be a dream come true for those who have been waiting for a real COD experience on a Nintendo console. If you were thinking about switching over from another, though, it might end up giving you some trouble, at least for the first few hours.