Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Wii U Hands-on Preview -- Ultra-Modern WarfareBy Adam Rosenberg - Posted Sep 14, 2012
We all knew it was coming. There was Reggie, solemnly running through the key bullet points that the gaming world has been waiting to hear. Wii U release date. Pricing. Non-interactive entertainment. Some fun trailers and gameplay demos to keep things interesting. Then, just as the hour-long presser was starting to tick to a close, the Nintendo of America bossman brought out one final special guest: Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg.
From that moment on, it was a question of "when" rather than "if." Here was the top man at Activision appearing on stage for Nintendo's final major Wii U pre-release infodump. Whatever else the man was going to talk about, Call of Duty was going to be discussed. And sure enough, it was. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, coming in 2012 to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, AND Wii U.
Hirshberg revealed right off the bat that the Wii U take on Black Ops 2 is a product of Treyarch, meaning it's not an outsourced port. He then ran through all of the key "how Black Ops 2 is changing the series" bullet points while a live multiplayer demonstration ran on the screen behind him. No big surprises other than a few distinguishing features on the Wii U side that the GamePad tablet-style controller offers.
Most excitingly, the GamePad will be able to serve as a second screen for local multiplayer, which means no more split-screen play when it's you and a buddy on the couch. The controller's screen is a little on the small side but there don't appear to be any display-based sacrifices made beyond that, as I learned shortly after the press conference during a hands-on demonstration. The GamePad can also function like a satellite screen for the Wii U, so you can pick up your game from anywhere "in the house" without having to be in front of the TV.
The game will feature some GamePad-specific content as well; I didn't get to sample it or myself, but players will be able to refer to the second screen to check out tactical maps and call in streak rewards using touch controls. The bigger change that I noticed as I played was the radically redesigned control scheme, necessitated by the GamePad's unique design.
This sort of button-swapped trickery is actually true for many of the third-party Wii U games that have been ported from other platforms. The right analog stick is positioned above the face buttons rather than below them, and it's more comfortable to reach for some buttons than for others. There's definitely going to be a learning curve here as players get used to the fact that the jump button on other platforms is the reload button on Wii U while the weapon switch button on other platforms is the jump button on the Wii U.
It definitely took some getting used to, but by the end of my hands-on I was pretty capably nailing headshots on bots in Combat Training mode. The awkward grip I had on the GamePad never grew more comfortable during my five-or-so minutes of play, but I'm willing to give that a pass for now since it's such an new and untested piece of technology. Let's not forget that the perfect design of many modern-day gamepads is one that's been honed over multiple decades.
After playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on the Wii U even for just a short time, I can definitely confirm that it feels like an authentic CoD experience. I do wonder how many Nintendo fans will flock to it, and how many multi-platform households will switch away from the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions, but the existence of Black Ops 2 as a Wii U launch window title is another one to mark off the checklist, at least.