Activision's Call of Duty: Ghosts may not have reached the standard series heights with its sales — perhaps due to a combination of wearied franchise veterans, a middling critical reaction and the impending arrival of the One and PS4 — but it's nevertheless one of the biggest releases of the year. With that comes the inevitable question of what version is best to buy, and our friends over at Eurogamer have applied their usual Digital Foundry analysis to the existing iterations on Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii U, which is pleasing considering that the latter two formats accounted for just 1% of final sales in the UK.
From a controller perspective, we've already made clear that we think Ghosts is best on Wii U, thanks to the lovely simplicity of the Wii Remote pointer. Naturally Digital Foundry has tackled the technicalities, and overall the Wii U has been found somewhat lacking compared to its contemporaries — Infinity Ward developed all versions bar that on Wii U, which was handled by Treyarch. The Wii U version comes in at a higher resolution than PS3 — 880x720 compared to 860x600 — yet despite this there are issues with textures (blurring and a noticeable loss of detail in some areas) on these two formats that are less prominent on the 360.
Quite why this is happening isn't immediately clear, but intriguingly the problem never really manifests on the 360, where a mandatory 2GB install is required before the campaign can be played. In comparison, on the PS3 and Wii U all graphical data is streamed directly from each system's disc drive, but at a slower rate than what is possible via a traditional hard disk. Perhaps the issues surrounding the artwork are caused by a bug in the game's streaming system causing incomplete assets to be displayed as the engine struggles to load in all of the relevant graphical data on platforms which rely on optical media to do so.
Beyond this, all three console versions are closely matched outside of a few barely notable variances which have little overall impact on the look of the game, such as the odd missing reflection on the Wii U or the use of lower-resolution specular effects on some surfaces on the PS3. However, the 360 version commands the overall advantage by featuring a more consistent presentation that lacks the blur surrounding the PS3 game, or the obvious texture bugs that appear on the Wii U.
In the frame rate comparison, such an important part of the series, the Wii U falls below its rivals, with DF referring to "an inconsistent level of performance" in the campaign. In the online arena where 60FPS is so treasured, the Nintendo system is unfortunately behind once again.
We had quite high hopes for the Wii U version in this area, too, given just how close Black Ops 2 is in this regard - despite featuring a few more interruptions, performance on Nintendo's console is comparable to that of the 360 and PS3 in Treyarch's title. However, it appears that the developers were unable to optimise the engine to quite the same degree with the new assets, and as such we find that a similarly consistent level of performance isn't demonstrated to the same degree on Nintendo's console. More Detailed maps - such as Tremor and Chasm - see overall performance clearly compromised, while introduction of alpha effects and explosions impact on performance more heavily than they do on the 360 and PS3.
The overall summary, in which it's taken for granted that a powerful PC comfortably bested these platforms, the Wii U comes in last place.
In the here and now, the current-gen Call of Duty experience is best delivered on the 360, followed quite closely by the PS3 version, where stable multiplayer performance is backed up by a campaign that still delivers a good slice of 60fps action, even if frame-rates aren't quite as smooth as on Microsoft's platform. However, the soft-focused look doesn't represent the game in its best light in comparison to the sharper and cleaner 360 release, while the texture bugs are disappointing to see. The real letdown comes with the Wii U version, which sees owners of Nintendo's console once again left with a sub-par experience marred by frequent frame-rate issues and some pretty striking texture quality problems that makes it hard to recommend when both 360 and PS3 offer up smoother gameplay and more enjoyable online play as a result.
We're in the latter stages of producing our own review — which should be with you relatively soon — but what do you think of this analysis? If you have Ghosts on Wii U, have you been happy with its performance?