Thursday, February 07, 2008

A month with the Wii

Time for a short summary of my experiences with the Wii and to get this blog jump-started again. I had a Wii know for a little over a month together with Wii Sports, Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3. Short summary: all of those games are fun, but neither good enough do justify the purchase and neither good enough to justify the Wii itself.

Mario Galaxy doesn't make much use of the Wiimote to begin with, so it could have been done on the Gamecube with almost no changes. Graphically it looks better then Sunshine, but not so much that you would really care. On the downside its a lot more linear then any 3D Mario before, so its more like the 2D ones then the 3D ones. So you don't have much fun exploring.

Wii Sports is kind of the showcase title for the Wiimote, since its one of the few games that actually uses it, but as a game its far to simple to entertain for long and even as tech-demo it can't impress all that much. Most Wii Sport games boild down to timing, in Baseball it doesn't matter much how you swing, but that you swing at the right time, speed might better too a bit, but its not really all that important. Same with Tennis, forehand and backhand are recognized, but thats mostly it, its pretty much impossible to control where the ball should fly, instead you simply swing the 'mote every now and then and the game plays mostly by itself. Golf is worse, since you don't even have to care about timing, all you do is swing the 'mote at a certain speed and you are done, you can play the game for most part completly blind. Bowling is probably the most interesting title, but even that is far from perfect, you can control speed and spin, but direction, position and such are all controlled with the dpad, not with your swing. In all the games you can more or less cheat, i.e. perform a waggling motion that has little to do with the real thing and still succeed at the game.

Metroid Prime 3 is supposed to be a showcase title for new FPS controls, but again, can't really impress. One nice aspect is that your aim is very fluid, unlike like dual-analog where you are always rather static with your view. On the downside it gets hard to keep your view centered in dialog and other non-gameplay situations, so that you end up spinning around when the dialog is over, little thing, but it annoys. In terms of precision the Wiimote might win again dual analog, but not really by much. Since you have to control view and aim with the same cursor, your view will always drift a little bit when you shift your aim, so getting a precise aiming on an enemy is nearly impossible unless you use the lock-on, which really is kind of a cheat. What however is most underwhelming in Prime3 are the mini-games, while they show that the developers actually cared to make something with the Wiimote, they just all to clearly show that the Wiimote isn't up to snuff. It simply doesn't work. You have to press a leaver, you move your Wiimote and nothing happens or something that you didn't intended. The games are all designed that things will snap into place automatically if you just waggle around a bit, so its not a big problem, but it makes it clear that the Wiimotes motion-detection just isn't usable for anything that requires precision. Also easily seen with the grapple beam, which doesn't work freely, but only if you look-on the grapple target before, so you are basically down to replacing a button with waggle.

All in all I can't say that I was impressed, even simple things like controlling the cursor in the menu don't work perfectly, from time to time the cursor will jump around for no obvious reason. Also the field-of-view is far to small. On a PC with unofficial drivers you have quite a bit more room to control the cursor and its much easier to find the cursor on the screen, while with the Wii its far to easy to aim outside the screen. The motion sensing itself is as expected not really usable either. I haven't seen a single game where it actually adds substance.

For the last two weeks the Wii has already started to collect dust and beside SmashBros and EndlessOcean I don't see any games on that machine that interest me.

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