Anyone who's been around the gaming scene for long enough knows that the run-up period to console launches is always packed full of bizarre speculation. The Wii U has had its share so far, but what seems to be burning up the nets most lately are the hushed, secretive rumblings about the games we'll see from third parties at launch. Each minor revelation seems squeezed out over secret incantations, all bits of information parceled out replete with either public relations spin-control or braggadocio—and it's getting harder to know who's blowing smoke out their ass, who isn't, and what exactly these developers are allowed to tell us under their various non-disclosure agreements.
Look no further than EA, a company that apparently American gamers love to hate so much that they declared them worse than legitimate, actual criminals via a recent survey featuring only the voices of Internet whiners. In a presentation only a couple of weeks ago, EA showed a version of FIFA 13 that is tailored around the Wii U Gamepad, boasts technical leaps over the PS3 and 360 versions of the game, and features seemingly robust online multiplayer with built-in friend lists and messaging.
They have also, to my surprise, shown their Wii U iteration of Madden 13, which will fart itself onto the U lacking the much-touted "infinity engine" (which provides, in the 360 and PS3 versions of the game, a long-awaited reactive physics system for player collisions instead of just canned animations). Oh, it'll also be missing the entire Madden Ultimate Team mode, as well as online team play, aha, ahaha. "[Ultimate Team and online team play are] something that we’re not going to have in year one... we plan to add [them] in as we go," said total dickwraith producer Yuri Bialoskursky, when trying to justify to ESPN why it was okay for them to spend less money and time on the Wii U version of the game.
So what gives, EA? Why is one game more deserving of a better port than another? You feel like putting more effort into the game that nobody in the United States will ever, ever buy? In fact, do I even call these games ports? In a strange way, Madden on the U will be a sort of de-port, a version of the game on hardware more powerful than current consoles that actually runs on last year's engine. Though launch versions of stuff like Madden were atrocious on 360, at least they must have built those things specifically for Xbox!
A more recent question I have begun to ask myself relates to the upcoming Wii U version of Darksiders II, a game that I sorta anticipated so much that I've gone ahead and started to play the original through on my PS3. But now, people are saying Darksiders II, which releases this week for the HD twins, kinda runs like shit. That raises questions I can't answer! Will the Wii U port on superior hardware alleviate these problems? Or will it somehow Maddenize itself, end up even worse due to less effort or hardware inexperience? Maybe whatever Gamepad features it has will push it over the edge into making it a superior version, moving inventory management and weapon details to the subscreen. I'd back that up with details, but in a recent interview/hands-on with Vigil, they mentioned they can't really talk about the Gamepad features or the Wii U version yet, "even though they'd love to," which might be a bunch of bullshit or not, again WHO FUCKIN KNOWS. Who fuckin knows.
Two Tribes, a developer I have never heard of, who is making Toki Tori 2, a sequel to a game I never played, says the Wii U supports sending a separate audio stream to the controller. Some random Nintendo representative that a kid pestered until the guy told him to shut up and go away first said "yeah, all the games will be in 1080p." Other companies like Capcom say that "some games are coming," which is almost the dumbest excuse for words I have ever even been notified of. I guess Nintendo magically granted certain dweebs the power to break specific parts of the NDA, but not others?
Where does it end? Various impressions of the Arkham City build say, depending on the moon phases, that it either looks better than, looks the same as, or looks worse than other versions of the game. Reports have come out that yes indeed, Assassin's Creed III for Wii U will "have online multiplayer features," a statement that must be truly appealing to bloggers who have nothing else they feel like saying. People have been either genuinely surprised at this magical feature parity, or grievously shocked that it's even news. Maybe I should be more happy, considering the giant Madden 13-lookin' dump that is headed our way.
Virtually the only piece of "100% confirmed true pack-in confirmed at launch verified source confirmed reported" information that any of us can trust is the same dumb crap that Capcom said, that "some games are coming." As a future Wii U owner with a thrust on some of these multiplatform games, I only hope that we get more enhanced ports and less half-assed ports than I'm deeply, terribly afraid we will.