Previews

Wii U: Zelda HD

Eyes on with a Zelda so pretty you won't know where to look

People are turning up at Nintendo's enormous E3 stand and finding one truly spectacular surprise. Nintendo has a real-time rolling demo of an ultra high-res, high detail Zelda running on the Wii U, and nobody knows it's there.

It's crazy. This is Zelda, Nintendo. Hello? The word on the show floor is that Nintendo put on a decent show for its E3 press conference, but not one that'll go down in history. Yet we reckon it would have had people whooping and cheering hysterically had it whipped this bad boy on the big screen.

To put it simply, Zelda HD looks incredible. Nothing short of mind-blowing. Although it's rendered in real-time the demo wasn't playable. A short action scene plays out while buttons displayed on the Wii U controller's touch screen lets you flick through different camera views, flip between daylight or night or switch the action between the HDTV and the controller screen.

Displaying the action on the TV has map and HUD data placed on the controller. Flick gameplay to the controller and the TV displays the map and a second view of the action in a smaller window. It's was a perfect demonstration of how great Wii U's high-end games will look on the 6.2 inch screen, where you can play it when your mum/wife's watching Coronation Street.

Not a great deal happens in the demo. You first get a brief camera fly-through of what looks like the inside of an insanely detailed cathedral. It's got all the typical stuff of such a building - highly patterned walls and statues showing off the console's texture performance, water-filled pools and an a shiny marble floor boasting impressive reflection and refraction effects, fire torches providing moody lighting and stained glass windows casting gorgeous shadows across the room.

Link walks in through the door. He looks amazing. Think Twilight Princess but ramped up to Uncharted on PS3 spec. All is quiet for a moment before a giant spider (why is it always giant spiders?) bursts through a wall. Smoke, dust and rubble flies everywhere. When we say huge me mean enormous - this daddy long legs fills a good portion of the cathedral floor.

Zoom

He's a menacing-looking bugger, too. Giant hairy legs, long black claws and bulbous venom pouch on his rear. Link charges in to tackle the beast with his trusty sword. The action that ensues is a spectacle of lighting flashes (as Link's sword clashes with the beast's claws), reflections, shadows and silky animations.

The ability to switch between night and day is a nice touch. At day a bright sun beams light in through the windows from a steep angle, casting light into the room and across its many details printing defined real-time shadows into the scenery. At night the dark room is lit only by flames, demonstrating just how moody and atmospheric this incredible new Zelda can be.

As it stands, we reckon Uncharted 2 is the best-looking adventure game out today, but its days could be numbered. Nintendo has something special here. But the platform holder repeatedly stressed that nothing shown for Wii U this weeks is a real game, just a tech demo. But we all know a HD Zelda game is an inevitability and if it looks this good it'll blow you away. Watch our exclusive gameplay footage above. It will rock your socks. Or something.

When Nintendo sought to demonstrate the console's power during its conference, it shouldn't have showed that Japanese garden video. Sure, the fish and the birds looks great, but we're gamers. We're Nintendo fans. We're Zelda fans. The Japanese Garden was cool. Seeing this pop up on the screen would have transformed what was a reasonable Nintendo press conference into a truly memorable one.

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