Behind every great soldier there's a great tactical map, the Cross Com 2.0. Here, says Ricour, we see the Wii U difference. "The new controller especially resonated with us - for us it is the physical manifestation of the Cross Com 2.0 device. It is an actual physical device that elite forces around the world carry with them to give them a tactical advantage.
With Ghost Recon Online, it's not just tactical, but also tactile - the Cross Com and its entire arsenal of cool new tech are now literally at your fingertips." As with so much Tom Clancy waffle, it's much cooler in action than on the page.
A 6.2-inch map screen alone is a cool addition. Used to squinting at COD's navigational postage stamp, our eyes gawp at the open playing field, plotting clear routes between the friendly green arrows and the nasty red ones. But don't forget this is a touchable map.
Any markers added to the map - identifying enemy activity, for example - update the televised world in real time, augmenting levels with beacons and flashing icons. Online friends will be able to chat through the in-built mic, but this ability to directly brand the environment is a far funkier, and more accessible, idea.
Not to be outdone by Killer Freaks' RED mode, Ghost Recon Online also lets us take to the skies on the second screen. Only here you're not some omnipotent git raining down alien scum, but piloting a spy drone over unknown territory. With your 'ghost' safely cowering behind a lump of rock, the drone pootles along unseen, its digital eye streamed to your hands. And if the softly-softly approach does nothing for you, the same screen enables you to steer surgical missile strikes into the exact pixel of your choosing. Make it a fleshy one.
IN LINE FOR ONLINE PLAY
What's interesting is how Ubisoft bring all this together online. Talking to Forbes magazine, Nintendo Of America pres Reggie Fils-Aime described a relatively 'open door' online policy, wherein publishers would be free to implement online networks of their own design as opposed to bowing to a Nintendo-enforced template.
Whether or not this is best for the gamer - we'd prefer a more unified Xbox Live-type experience - Ubisoft are taking the freedom in their stride. Along with trusted online norms - persistent character progression with unlocks, perks, upgrades and the like - they're trying to foster a community with an always-on social network called GhostNet.
Ricour describes GhostNet as a handheld window into online activity. "Through the touch pad, our fans will always be connected at home with their social network and with the activities happening in the game. It's always on, even if your TV is off." At its heart is a live feed of friend activity, their in-game progress, achievements and online activity.
A mock-up depicts options to invite players to parties or ping their controller to tell them to boot up the game. Gone are the days of trying to corral mates with text messages and forum meet-ups - an electronic call to arms lets us instigate combat any time we want.
Killer Freaks and Ghost Recon Online are fine looking games. Especially with potentially 18 months of development to go (both are scheduled for Wii U launch). But for lovers of shiny things, all eyes are on Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft won't divulge which Assassin's Creed game is sneaking Wii U's way - a fresh outing or an anthology of previous games? - but promise it'll look sexy. Marc Parenteau, a technical architect from Ubisoft Quebec (he worked on Prince Of Persia: Forgotten Sands), Wii U is more than able to handle the visually intensive open world stab-'em-up.
"The multi-core architecture of the console is a natural fit for our in-house HD engines, such as the Anvil engine used in Assassin's Creed," he explains. "In addition, the large memory capacity of the console will be used to bring performance enhancements, such as pre-calculating data or increasing our cache sizes."