A guide to the very best Wii U ports

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We take a look at the best third-party ports available to Wii U owners.

With the Wii U out and the eager early adopters having chosen their initial titles (no doubt consisting in the main of Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU) the time has come to cast an eye about the rest of the Wii U’s line-up.

An oddity of the Wii U is that a sizable chunk of these are ports from other systems. Nintendo has form here of course – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was not only a Wii launch title, but also a GameCube port – but this time it’s the third party developers who have taken advantage of this particular strategy. Hence a number of games you’d find on Xbox 360 and PS3 are now on Wii U; albeit with a few extra bells and whistles (generally associated with the Wii U’s GamePad).

Here then is a quick what’s what and what’s changed guide to the best of the Wii U’s adopted titles:

Batman Arkham City: Armoured Edition
Price: £49.99
Publisher: Warner Bros.

One of 2011’s finest games instantly becomes one of the Wii U’s best too, as the Dark Knight swoops into Arkham City to once more do battle with Gotham’s criminal contingent. The open sandbox structure of Arkham City versus its predecessor Arkham Asylum marks a major step forward for the franchise, as does the stunning amount of optional side-quests which are enough to keep budding caped crusaders busy for hours at a time.

Batman’s detective skills are pushed to the limits just as much as his combative skills too, as he uses his gadgets and his smarts to trace bullet trajectories, outsmart the more gargantuan bad guys and eventually unravel the malevolent motives of Hugo Strange and the Joker.

What’s new for the Wii U version?

The best added aspects come as ever with use of the Wii U’s GamePad. Here it’s used almost as an extension of Batman’s utility belt and so allows our hero to survey his surroundings, quickly access his gadgets, scan crime scenes etc. Even better the GamePad’s onboard speaker is used to relay the many radio transmissions of Gotham – a option that only serves to make the whole all the more engrossing.

You can also opt to take the whole game off the TV and on to the GamePad, while Batman also comes equipped with gauntlets which let him temporarily increase the power of his attacks – not really useful as it decreases your combo chains but fun if only to see how far you can roundhouse kick thugs.

Trine 2: Director’s Cut
Price: £10.99 (via Nintendo eShop)
Publisher: Frozenbyte

A cerebral take on the side-scrolling platformer sees the heroic trinity of wizard, thief and knight reunited to protect the kingdom from encroaching evil. Each character has a specific role – platform levitation, bow-and arrow and grapple hook and shield and sword respectively – and so players must swap from one role to next (or else employ a friend) in a bid to solve subtle puzzles and repel the not so subtle enemies.

It has its flaws, the way in which ambushes can lead to loss of your knight, so depraving you of any means to easily survive further encounters without plodding back to a character-restoring checkpoint for example. But on the whole Trine 2 is an imaginative and beautiful game that’s a welcome addition to the Wii U’s eShop.

What’s new for the Wii U version?

Swapping between characters by the touch of a button and the ability to place blocks just where you want them (when in the wizard’s slippers at least). You’ll also get the ‘Goblin Menace’ expansion included in the package, the chance to play solely on the GamePad and even the PC version’s online multiplayer options make the leap to Wii U.

Darksiders 2
Price: £49.99
Publisher: THQ

Death takes over clobbering duties in a bid to show War exactly what he’s good for, after the Horseman was earlier tricked into instigating Armageddon on the earth in the first Darksiders entry.

What follows is a Zelda meets God of War action-adventure which never hits the heights of either, but still provides an enjoyable enough adventure. If anything, it’s on the overly long side – a particular problem given most dungeons tend toward similar boulder-rolling puzzles – but the fast and vicious combat coupled with some truly gargantuan boss fights should prove tonic enough for most.

What’s new for the Wii U version?

The GamePad doubles as equipment select screen and map, therefore negating the need for the game’s usual clunky item interface, while the game also comes fully loaded with all of the DLC released thus far. Sadly the frame rate has the tendency to chug during the more epic encounters (a fault both PS3 and Xbox 360 versions share) and you can also opt to play the game via the GamePad directly.

Assassin’s Creed 3
Price: £49.99
Publisher: Ubisoft

It’s ‘Goodbye Ezio, hello Connor’ as Renaissance Europe makes way for Revolutionary War era America. As usual Templar and Assassin clans are pulling the strings (and in even more interesting ways here) as the technology of a pre-human society is sought in what is proving to be an ever more convoluted narrative.

Still, the breath taking scale on display more than makes up for that as the tribal Connor takes on all comers with stealthy arrow or the sharp end of a tomahawk. The use of weather effects to change landscapes works brilliantly too and is perfectly complemented by improvements to the animation (see Connor trudge through snow drifts and prepare for your jaw to hit the floor).

The only downside is the slightly confused structure of missions and the feeling that Connor isn’t as in tune with his world as he might be; an issue of character model versus environment. Amazing naval battle sections do go some way to remedying that however.

What’s new for the Wii U version?

The ubiquitous touchscreen equipment selection screen and accompanying map are present and correct and each comes with its advantages while helping to keep you in the game. Other than that there’s very little different other than the visuals which some have claimed are markedly less detailed than on other consoles – truth be told however I’ve found it difficult to spot too difference myself.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Price: £49.99
Publisher: Activision

Securing Black Ops 2 as a launch title really should have been more of a celebrated coup for Nintendo, the shooter is after all the latest in gaming’s most popular franchise. Strangely however, despite being a solid port which even features some clever extras, the same effect which set shop registers ringing across the land in regards to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions has failed to materialise.

A miscalculation in marketing? An indicator of the Wii U’s initial adopters? Or simply because everyone who bought a Wii U had already bought the game on another system? Perhaps we’ll find out once the game’s overall sale figures are confirmed.

What’s new for the Wii U version?

Without doubt the most impressive addition comes during local multiplayer as, rather than force players into split screen mode, Black Ops 2 lets one player use the TV with the second user able to view the action in its proper ratios via the GamePad’s screen. The GamePad also comes into its own during online multiplayer with the device providing an easily viewed map as well as allowing players to swap classes on the fly – a nice touch.

Come back in the next few days for the second part of our guide which is set to include such luminaries as Mass Effect 3, as well as Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge which is due to release on Friday.

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