Missing The Mark: Nintendo Wii U Review

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Gaming & Wii U Controller Experience

At its core, the Wii U is a gaming console. We'll touch on its extra functionality in a bit, but you can't adequately size up the Wii U's power without first understanding what it's capable of on the gaming front. Going "first" is always an interesting move. In a way, the Wii U is competing with the PS3 and Xbox 360 -- two rival consoles that have been out for years. But, the reality is that both Microsoft and Sony will be introducing new home consoles within the next 12 to 24 months, and the Wii U will be -- rightly or wrongly -- expected to also compete with those offerings.

The Wii U's launch lineup includes a few Nintendo titles, but mostly ports from elsewhere. The latest Madden and Call of Duty are here, each of which offer slightly unique twists courtesy of the second screen interaction on the GamePad. Nintendo Land is the Wii Sports of the Wii U, giving you what essentially amounts to a Mario Party-like title. This game ships with the Deluxe kit, but is marked at around $60 separately. It's chock full of mini-games, and most of them let the GamePad holder see something different than other players do on the HDTV. It's a unique way to engage multiplayer events, and in practice, it's just as addictive as you might expect.

Graphics on the Wii U are buttery smooth, for the most part. A lot of the styling and shading reminds us of the Wii, but only now it's in 1080p. Gaming with the GamePad is a really enjoyable experience, but you'll need to keep a close eye on battery life -- it'll only last around four hours on a full charge, and then it'll take around 2.5 hours to juice it back up.

It's titles like Nintendo Land that keep fans coming back. For all of the knocks on the Wii U, you can't deny that the software is lovable. People who would generally never touch a gaming console can easily find themselves enthralled with by a mini-game in Nintendo Land. It appeals to everyone, from kids to the geriatric, from hardcore to casual gamers. That level of charm is only magnified with 1080p output, as the visuals finally match the excellent quality of play.

For titles like CoD: Black Ops II, the Wii U Pro control pad works fine, but you'll still get more enjoyment out of the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions. More players will be picking up there, as the first-person contingent rarely looks first to Nintendo. So, if you're into major multiplayer bashes, the masses aren't going to be playing on the Wii U.

Overall, gaming is very strong on the Wii U. The control paradigm is well implemented, the graphics are gorgeous, and the available games should please just about every fanbase. But the Wii U is about more than gaming, and that's where we're headed next.

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