But system’s graphical performance bests current HD consoles.
The kind of enemy-filled scene that the Wii U CPU has some trouble with, according to Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper producer Akihiro Suzuki.
In the many months we’ve been hearing about Nintendo’s Wii U, there have been wide-ranging reports that the machine’s underlying hardware is comparable to or somewhat more powerful than current generation HD consoles. Now, as we get closer to the system’s November 18 North American debut, a Wii U launch developer suggests that it might actually perform worse than current generation systems in some ways, while improving on them in others.
Speaking at this week’s Tokyo Game Show, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper producer Akihiro Suzuki told Eurogamer that the Wii U’s CPU power is actually “a little bit less” than the Xbox 360 and PS3, leading to some specific drawbacks in the Wii U port of the game. “When you have a lot of enemies coming at you at once, the performance tends to be affected because of the CPU,” he said. “Dealing with that is a challenge.”
Nintendo hasn’t revealed precise performance details of the Wii U’s IBM-made CPU, which features three Power PC cores, but Suzuki’s comments line up with those of other developers contacted by Eurogamer last month. “We are not limited by [the CPU power] but some other games might suffer from it,” one unnamed developer told the site.
In terms of pure graphical capabilities, though, Suzuki said the Wii U was a distinct improvement over current HD consoles. “From a visual standpoint, based on the performance of the Wii U, we knew the game had the capability of having much better graphics than games on PS3 and Xbox 360,” he said. “Make no mistake, from a visual standpoint, it is able to produce better graphics.”
That description of the system’s graphical prowess lines up with a recent demonstration of Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Wii U running at full 1080p and 60 frames per second, a performance that current consoles would struggle to achieve. The Wii U makes use of an AMD 7 series GPU with 32MB of embedded eDRAM, as well as a full gigabyte of general RAM that is available to developers (twice as much as the Xbox 360 or PS3). Reports suggest that the graphics system will allow for easy ports of PC games using DirectX10 and Shader Model 4, though DirectX 11 games like those running on the high end of Unreal Engine 4 will probably be out of reach.
Still, the slower-than-current-gen CPU might limit how much action can actually be going on in some of those smooth, high resolution scenes. But developers will doubtlessly be able to wring more power from even the lower-powered CPU as the system’s lifecycle progresses. One unidentified developer speaking to Eurogamer last month said he was able to optimize CPU performance on his Wii U project by 15 percent just over the course of development, and expected to be able to improve further on that number before launch.
“With the Wii U being new hardware, we’re still getting used to developing for it, so there are still a lot of things we don’t know yet to bring out the most of the processing power,” Suzuki said. “There’s a lot that still needs to be explored in that area.”