Wii U has "a horrible, slow CPU" says Metro: Last Light dev

The studio said it wasn't worth pursuing development on Nintendo's console

Wii U is now available in the US, but the verdict is still up in the air for many critics. One comment that's repeatedly brought up is that the Wii U doesn't offer visuals any more advanced than current-generation hardware. In fact, 4A Games' chief technical officer, Oles Shishkovtsov, went so far as to tell NowGamer that the Wii U "has a horrible, slow CPU."

4A Games is the studio behind THQ's Metro: Last Light. The game is in development for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, but 4A decided it wasn't worth the effort required to get it onto Wii U as well.

Fellow 4A developer Huw Beynon further explained, "We had an early look at it, we thought we could probably do it, but in terms of the impact we would make on the overall quality of the game - potentially to its detriment - we just figured it wasn't worth pursuing at this time. It's something we might return to. I really couldn't make any promises, though... given the size of the team and compared to where we were last time, just developing for the Playstation 3 is a significant addition.

The Wii U's horsepower may not blow anyone away, but it's certainly enough to run games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin's Creed 3 and other triple-A titles available on competing consoles, so at this point developers blaming lack of support on tech specs seems like a weak excuse.

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Latest comments (17)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Well stated, James.

I can understand simply not having enough time to learn the platform in your current development schedule and a first look may give a "weak" performance if you haven't figured out how to tap into it yet. They also stated it's a manpower issue as they were barely able to squeeze in the PS3 version so naturally a Wii U SKU would be out of the question.
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Keldon Alleyne Developer, leader, writer, Avasopht Ltd5 years ago
I'm pretty curious to know if the Wii-U has any hidden horsepower that they will open up to bridge the gap a little when the PS4 and XBox720 arrives. Where the Wii was pretty much a 6.5 gen console, the Wii-U seems to be just a 7th gen machine released a year before the 8th gen consoles arrive at near enough the same price point as an 8th gen console.

In terms of the cpu issues they are having, the first hurdle they have to overcome is being good friends with the cache and also being in harmony with the bus in order to maximize utilization of the cpu otherwise you're just stalling most of the time.

I'm quite shocked that Nintendo's engineers didn't go for a more liberal architecture to avoid these types of problems. They have provided a nice suite of tools to assist with resolving these issues though, so I'm quite curious to know what exactly their bottleneck was. Would be nice if they could supply that information if possible.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Keldon, I've noticed that those that complain, don't specify and those that praise, go into more detail.

Take with that what you will.
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Show all comments (17)
Rodney Smith Developer 5 years ago
I'm getting so close to cancelling my pre-order. Just waiting for a wii-u black ops review to seal the deal. :(
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 5 years ago
Its not just the Metro developers complained about this - the ones behind Dynasty Warriors also noted the slower CPU.
Interview is here.

The WiiU has a triple core Power based CPU manufactured on a 45nm process. Its not going to break speed records for a few reasons.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Offload some CPU tasks to the GPU. That's what is was designed for.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee5 years ago
The CPU seems pretty massive for this day and age, so no wonder they've had to go for a low clock frequency.

Either way, opinions on the specs are up in the air. Crytek and Gearbox either say Wii-U is at minimum as capable as the current gen systems or superior. I guess its also evident in the fact some titles like Aliens are supposed to be looking better on Wii-U.

I guess its not always about getting the CPU to throw everything at the GPU for rendering. The huge memory and modern shader architecture should be of an advantage in most cases looking at history. If a studio has the will and I guess resource to make things work and perhaps even look better, they will do it.

The Tec Guy ~AC

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 21st November 2012 8:35pm

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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 5 years ago
"It's not the tools you use, but how you use them"
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 5 years ago
Offload some CPU tasks to the GPU. That's what is was designed for.
It has an ATi 5 series based GPU, which is at least a 3 year old design, with some improvements. It's more powerful than the 360s, but its not next-gen.
The WiiU Gpu is very different from the 360s, so I can understand why this developer said what he said. The wiiU is not fast enough to simply take a 360 game and just deal with the architectural differences.
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange5 years ago
Back in the days people think more bits means more powerful, that changed with the XBOX. Now Nintendo's come up with an architecture that tries to fully BC and be more efficient by drawing less power so in the future they can easily make it portable. Just look how much smaller the Wii U is in comparison to the Slimbox and Superslim beasts.

Nintendo's just holding back announcements until they are ready. Reggie has recently stated that there are unannounced games that fall into the launch window and there are even hints that the new GTA could even come to the system. Just look back at this year's E3 and realize that Ubisoft even gave a glimpse of what a true 1st gen Wii U game is, it's not Zombie U, it has the word Dogs and you shoot guns and use nifty gadgets.
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 5 years ago

Tried to resist but, you know I have to say "That's what she said!"

On a more serious note, reading the reviews, the release titles do seem to have bouts of slowdown so I'm not too sure the dev kits were all that good a measure of the final products abilities. Remember that using the second screen takes processing power away from the main game. In this regard I expect that technically demanding games that don't use the second screen will perform a lot better than those that do.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Dwyer on 22nd November 2012 8:46am

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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 5 years ago
If they can't even get a speedy OS running on the thing, I do worry about the real power of the device.. Nintendo are just in it for the money on short term, otherwise they certainly would have upped the specs, but people just fall for the 'oh nintendo has some innovatiing controller' which actually isn't anything innovating at all, but can actually be used by developers because they know there'll be at least one controller with every unit.. And games? there aren't that many real good games except for some rehash mario themed games..

@Tom Keresztes: I believe that any 360 games should be fully portable to the Wii-U without any problem (and maybe even run in real 1080p), but going beyond that is ofcourse the real question..
A lot of people already have a PS3 or xbox360 and those will certainly not buy a Wii-U as a replacement, simple because it's not much better as what they already own, so they'll wait for the nextgen MS/Sony console..
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Back at E3'11 there was complaint about the 'under-horse-power' of the proposed machine, and then there was all the comments from the Nintendo Fan-boys that the system was going to be great and stop complaining - now the developers have started to comment and again the fan-boys jump down our throats saying "no it will be great, wait and see"!

Sorry, I am a businessman and have to focus on the issues, rather than live in la la land - Nintendo has previous for trying to hoist a under-powered system on its customer (Gamecube - 21m sales) - they would not admit their mistake, only go on and address these issues in performance secretly and re-release it hidden in the core of the Wii (97m sales).

I just wonder if we are looking at a Wii-U2 for 2014 that will have performance hikes and will support the best of the features that the PS4 and XB740 will lead on. Fundamentally, is the Wii-U a means to take the high ground early and then leach off of what the competition promote without having to over-develop a new hardware platform (looking at SONY's Junk Stock status this morning this may be a very clever approach!)
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University5 years ago
Kevin, the Gamecube was more powerful than the PlayStation 2 and an easy match for its contemporary systems. Its market failure is the reason Nintendo went with a less powerful piece of kit the next time around. Try harder next time ;-)
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Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports5 years ago
I can't help but think that people are missing the point. Sure, it's barely any more powerful than the current Xbox and Playstation. But it is still quite a leap from the original Wii. When you think that a large proportion of the Wii crowd just didn't care about the other consoles, comparing them now seems a bit irrelevant.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
I think there was one comment made by Oles the programmer - the guy who built the engine. It's a very CPU intensive game. I think it's been verified by plenty of other sources, including your own Digital Foundry guys, that the CPU on Wii U on the face of it isn't as fast as some of the other consoles out there. Lots of developers are finding ways to get around that because of other interesting parts of the platform.

I think that what frustrates me about the way the story's been spun out is that there's been no opportunity to say, 'Well, yes, on that one individual piece maybe it's not as... maybe his opinion is that it's not as easy for the way that the 4A engine's been built as is the others.

What it doesn't go on to look at is to say that, you know, we could probably get around that. We could probably get Metro to run on an iPad if we wanted, or on pretty much anything. Just as in the same way that between PC and current console versions there are some compromises that need to be made in certain places and we strive to get the very best performance that we can from any platform we release on.

But I understand that there's a real appetite in the media at the moment because the Wii U is a hot topic to spam som

We looked at Wii U as a target platform. It's a really small studio. There were 50 for Metro 2033, there are 80 now. With Metro 2033 most of their experience was with the PC. The Xbox 360 was their first console version. We've now added PlayStation 3 to the mix.

We genuinely looked at what it would take to bring the game to Wii U. It's certainly possible, and it's something we thought we'd like to do. The reality is that would mean a dedicated team, dedicated time and effort, and it would either result in a detriment to what we're trying to focus on, already adding a PlayStation 3 SKU, or we probably wouldn't be able to do the Wii U version the justice that we'd want.

It would be a port or we wouldn't be able to get to grips with the system. That's really the essence of it. It's something we can potentially look at and return to later. Given the targets we've set for the game, it didn't make sense to proceed with it at this point." - THQ's Huw Beynon
I implore you all to read this. Pretty much what I've been saying since about the CPU since the first complaint.
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange5 years ago
The guys who made Trine 2 found a workaround and in just a very short time they got the game running and it looks really impressive. They even go as to say what they've done on the Wii U graphically cannot be done on the PS3 or the 360. They'll have to downscale the game.
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