Call of Duty: Black Ops II Wii U preview - Good and bad news about FPSing with the Wii U version

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. 


  • AJinFLA - November 13, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    Not really a fair comparison. If you start from scratch, you will pick up the Wii U nunchuk/pointer much faster than the unnatural dual analogs where often your movement is one direction, while your aiming is the exact opposite... not to mention "sprint" is very akward having to press down on the joystick. - I wish PS or Xbox would come up with a similar controller.
  • Waggy - September 14, 2012 1:34 p.m.

    I don't think this will be much of a problem if the Wii Remote controls are done right. As seen on other Wii fps games, many players abandon the dual analog controls once they figure out that the Wii Remote gives them an advantage over the dual analog players.
  • ParagonT - September 14, 2012 7:11 a.m.

    Thought that the Pro Controller would be a hurdle when it was first shown, and wouldn't you know it? But I personally don't think they should have tried to break the mold on that one by changing the button layout at all, doesn't the GamePad have the same setup? That's like buying the controller just for the ergonomics of it. But since people say that the GamePad is comfortable, then your basically buying a controller for fifty dollars for the joysticks and buttons to be closer together. Which if I was going to get the system, would be a no buy for me personally. Just switching between the PS controller and Xbox controller throws me off with the slight differential layout of the shoulder buttons. So this would be a nightmare for me. Familiarity is key to easy transitioning and having a what I would consider a more button conscience layout is great as well.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 14, 2012 4:15 a.m.

    I can't believe that I hadn't even noticed that the face buttons were below the sticks on the Game Pad and Pro Controller! That's a very bold move on Nintendo's part. Bold, but risky after (as it says in the article) 15+ years of the "standard" controller.
  • mikeylawson - September 14, 2012 2:17 a.m.

    If anyone buys the Wii U to play COD I will facepalm on their behalf. Next gen systems are right round the corner, and if COD is what you are after, just play it on the PS3 or Xbox, the systems it was originally designed for you know. Also GR, I hate your captcha. It keeps making me input symbols I'm not even convinced my keyboard has.
  • RonnyLive19881 - September 13, 2012 9:21 p.m.

    No Wii remote option? DAMN!
  • RonnyLive19881 - September 13, 2012 9:56 p.m.

    NVM, just found out there is! Why leave that out? Best news since someone decided to make coffee flavored ice cream!
  • wheresmymonkey - September 14, 2012 3:47 a.m.

    Hot damn. That is great news.
  • Letter11 - September 13, 2012 8:47 p.m.

    I just can't understand what compelled the designers of the GamePad to place the second analog stick above the buttons. Perhaps it's more intuitive for someone who is completely new to dual stick controls? Was that the idea? It really bothers me. I still can't get over it. I'll give it a try before I completely condemn it though.
  • therobotaku - September 14, 2012 3 a.m.

    >>I'll give it a try before I completely condemn it though. You are officially my favorite person on the internet right now. In all seriousness, the button layout both excites and befuddles me as well... mostly because I will admit it's a little atypical. As someone who plans on getting the console for games like The Wonderful 101 and the like though, things like this just might be the cherry on top.
  • Letter11 - September 14, 2012 11:33 p.m.

    Heh, thanks for the kind words. The Wonderful 101 is looking absolutely, "wonderful". I just had to, I apologize for that. But seriously, I'll have to get WiiU eventually just to play it. Platinum Games cannot be stopped.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 14, 2012 4:19 a.m.

    I know what you mean, the proof is in the playing but it does seem very odd. I think it'll go one of two ways: - It'll be a revelation and become the new benchmark for controller layouts. OR - It'll be the console's downfall (in multiplatform third party support at least) as gamers choose to buy the PS/Xbox versions over the WiiU due to the familiar controls.
  • xileshadow - September 13, 2012 3:21 p.m.

    Activision confirmed that the Wii U version will run at 1080p@60fps. That is a big improvement over the 360's subHD@60fps.
  • ObliqueZombie - September 13, 2012 1:43 p.m.

    I just really don't feel like this game is right for this community. Not that there's a "community" right now, but even Nintendo fans that want more hardcore games probably don't want it on the WiiU. Or, like me, just don't care either way. I'll stick with the Xbox version. But good to know the WiiU is getting a lot of takers for a developing platform.

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