Wii U: Why Ubisoft's is Nintendo's biggest supporter

Ubisoft throws its support behind Nintendo's new console...

A cockney wideboy empties shotgun shells into gooey alien heads. The alien attackers jibber-jabber angrily and evaporate into a bloody mist.

Later, an electricity cannon spits out lumps of raw voltage (let's gloss over the science) and lights them up like a Christmas tree. A screaming Christmas tree. This is gruesome punishment, meted out with dual analogue sticks and precise motion controls. What's wrong with this picture? It's on a Nintendo machine.

Now a team of four friends, living rooms linked by an invisible online bond, slink through the war-torn streets of a generic Badistan. Communicating via voice chat, they co-ordinate a stinging tactical assault. Hostiles flagged on one screen flash up on the other three, and all four take their position. Meanwhile, in the real world, a fifth player observes their progress and waits to hop into the game. What's wrong with this picture? It's on a Nintendo machine.


Finally, a technical architect takes to the stage. He talks about multi-core architecture and explains how memory capacity brings performance enhancements to an already stonking HD game engine. He talks about graphical shaders, increased cache sizes, pre-calculated data and natural extensions of dev-friendly API. In layman's terms: "the graphical quality is top notch". What's wrong with this picture? He's talking about a Nintendo machine.

Violent FPS fun. Comprehensive online gaming. Graphics. Nintendo fans are unaccustomed to such things. Ubisoft have them in spades. No wonder Ninty boss Satoru Iwata personally invited Ubi-pres Yves Guillemot to introduce three Wii U titles - Killer Freaks From Outer Space, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online and Assassin's Creed (a working title) - as part of their E3 showing. We talked to the teams to find out what Wii U means from a developer's perspective.

The opening second of Killer Freaks From Outer Space is a massive relief. After a hardware reveal worryingly light on Wii U game footage, we're able to see what the machine is capable of. Moonlight pours through a gloomy British night sky, glinting off the barrel of a gun with more rendered parts than the entire Popcorn Arcade catalogue.

The setting - a post-alien invasion London - reminds us a bit of BioShock. Drier, certainly, but with the same lonely sense of abandonment. You are a lone cockney warrior, a one-man rebellion with a pocket packed with ammo and a mouth rammed with slang.

Playing on Wii U's handheld screen offers huge immersive potential. While dual analogue sliders manage movement, aiming is complemented by physically shifting the screen. The end effect, from our (sadly) hands-off perspective, is of a demonstrator slowly losing his mind.


He spins, bends and contorts, as if trying to avoid an invisible wasp. In actuality, every move is felt on screen. Angle it up and down and your gun follows suit. Spin 180 degrees on the spot and you spin 180 in game, too. Ubisoft Montpellier's Guillaume Brunier calls it "spatial gameplay, a spherical dimension to what you're playing."

Nintendo's virtual garden demo applies similar controls to startling effect. Physically shifting your perspective renders the screen as a window to a world beyond. There, of course, your biggest concern was a disgruntled Koi carp. Killer Freaks' rabid (not to mention Rabbid-like) aliens require more than serene contemplation. Is Wii U really viable as a platform for first-person shooters? Brunier thinks so.

"We've used the accelerometer feature. If you move very fast the game will know and adjust movement speed. Those familiar with FPSes know how difficult it is to go around 180 degrees. With these new controls it is a thing of the past."

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