Performance of Batman: Arkham Origins Wii U Version Compares Unfavourably to 360 and PS3
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
"It's hard to recommend the Wii U game at all"
Just recently we published our Batman: Arkham Origins review, and for multiple reasons we felt that it fell below the standards of its predecessors. We also suggested the visuals were "shaky", though tech-heads now have a full Digital Foundry face-off to consider for the Caped Crusader's latest adventure; the Wii U version doesn't fare well.
As expected the comparison takes in all versions for the Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Naturally the PC iteration runs away with the gong for the best performer — while on a decent gaming rig — while Nintendo's system lagged behind in pretty much all areas. Streaming of assets is worst on the system, with lower-resolution textures remaining on screen the longest before being resolved, while particle effects and heavy alpha have a noticeable impact on performance.
That impact on performance naturally affects the framerate, which endured its worst dips on Wii U.
The situation is considerably worse on the Wii U. On the plus side, screen-tearing is completely eliminated due to the inclusion of a locked v-synced presentation, but disappointingly the result of this is a frame-rate that fluctuates somewhere in the mid-twenties on a regular basis, producing constant judder and a serious reduction in the responsiveness of the controls. The number of enemies and the inclusion of a weaker CPU seems to be the cause for this on Nintendo's system - perhaps the console simply can't keep up with handling all of the AI and physics routines under load. The result is that gameplay is heavily compromised to the point where we found the experience far less enjoyable as a result. At times the PS3 version suffers to a similar degree, but this happens far less frequently compared to the Nintendo platform.
Issues also arise when traversing the environment. While the 360 manages to mostly stick closely to the desired 30fps target, both the PS3 and Wii U drop significantly when exploring detailed locations with extensive draw distances. Most notably we encountered pauses of several seconds a handful of times on the Wii U game throughout our playthrough, contained amongst the heavy frame-rate drops. At these points, we heard the console's disc drive frantically chugging away - as if it was trying to keep up with streaming in the large amounts of data required to generate the moderately large environments. The problem of steaming data fast enough from a Blu-Ray disc also appears to cause performance issues on the PS3 - albeit to a much lesser degree than on Wii U - and that's despite the mandatory 4603MB installation.
It's also noted, as it was in our review, that the usage of the GamePad is surprisingly scaled back from its features in Arkham City Armoured Edition, while the performance issues and absence of online multiplayer make the Wii U version a tough sell.
The conversion work is generally solid too where the 360 and PS3 are concerned, although some of the frame-rate and stuttering issues on Sony's system do distract from the action when the engine is put under stress, and some of the srteaming issues across all formats are perhaps indicative of the UE3 technology being pushed to its limits. Unfortunately, the Wii U once again disappoints with considerably worse performance than the other formats. This is a shame, as the use of lower-resolution shadows and greater texture streaming problems could all be overlooked if the game ran far more smoothly. The pared-back GamePad features and the lack of multiplayer also comes across as a disappointment, making this version hard to recommend if you own multiple platforms.
On the whole Arkham Origins is a fitting finale to the series on the older consoles, before Rocksteady returns with a Batman title designed for next-gen. While it's less innovative than the first two instalments, the solid combat and familiar mix of stealth and action-based gameplay is well worth investigating. While Xbox 360 arguably offers up the smoothest gameplay experience on console, PS3 owners get exclusive DLC that includes the Nightfall challenge maps and extra Batman costumes based on the 1960s TV series and the classic comics' Knightfall story arc. Given the major frame-rate issues it's hard to recommend the Wii U game at all unless you have no other option. Meanwhile, as expected, the PC version stands alone in terms of performance and quality features, making it the default choice for enthusiast gamers.
Do you have Arkham Origins on Wii U, and if so what do you think of its performance?