Trine 2: Director’s Cut has been a high profile launch download on the Wii U eShop, due to its popularity on other formats and eye-catching visuals. Prior to release day it drew a lot of attention for the latter reason, in that it showed off the fact that Wii U was bringing Nintendo into the HD age, and that download titles were coming to the virtual platform that would emphasize that very point.
As developer Frozenbyte made clear to us in our developer interview for Trine 2, its goal with the Wii U version was to include graphical assets and content not possible with the same level of success on other systems, apart from PC. Those were positive words indeed, especially when considered alongside some recent negativity with regards to Wii U's graphical capability.
The Digital Foundry team at Eurogamer has now put these claims to the test, and it could be the first case of its Wii U/Xbox 360/PS3 technical comparisons that has actually declared the Nintendo system's version to perform the best.
In all home console cases the image outputs at 720p, with a solid framerate locked at 30FPS (frames per second), with just the PS3 showing the occasional but barely noticeable dip. The PC version that was tested on a moderately powerful rig outstripped all three major consoles, but the Wii U does include — as Frozenbyte had suggested previously — assets from the PC build that didn't make it to the Sony or Microsoft platforms.
Other refinements to the PC game are more subtle - such as the use of higher-quality normal map compression, increased water complexity and splash effects - but these elements work well with the inclusion of higher-resolution textures to deliver more detailed imagery on screen in a way which emphasises the lush look of the environments. Impressively, these elements also form part of the visual package on the Wii U. On top of that the PC game also adopts PhysX enhancements, which mildly improve the quality and scope of destructible objects and surfaces - something that we see on Wii U too.
A disappointment is noted with a "washed-out" image on Wii U, despite the graphical fidelity, that was resolved with some adjustments to brightness settings; this is apparently something noticed by various tech-heads on sites such as NeoGaf, but could be fixed in a future update. Digital Foundry's overall conclusion of the Wii U version, in comparison to that of Xbox 360 and PS3, was undoubtedly positive.
The Wii U version also deserves credit, of course. The game not only features many of the graphical upgrades found on the PC, but does so while delivering better image quality than the 360 and PS3 without compromising on the solid frame-rate. The more washed-out image is a concern compared to the darker look of the other versions, but only for those with HDTVs that don't come with an option to select full or limited range RGB levels over HDMI (usually called HDMI black level), in which changing this setting to low (and lowering the brightness in the game's menu) solves the problem. However, the bottom line is that we shouldn't have to work so hard to get the best look from the game and we're a little surprised that Trine 2 shipped like this - we noted several complaints about the lighting on NeoGAF, but our contention is that the lighting model is absolutely fine, it's the gamma level that seems significantly skewed. It's a small blemish in what is a lovely-looking game, and hopefully it'll be patched up soon.
So there you have it, graphics and frame-rate fans. While many gamers will be happy to let their eyes and ears determine whether Wii U is producing attractive visuals, this represents possibly the first notable victory in an analysis focused on nitty-gritty details. Frozenbyte's effort appears to have paid off.