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Nintendo Wii U – Next Generation Console or Not ?

It is without doubt that the concept of the new upcoming Wii U is certainly captivating, to the extent that some would argue that it may well be a tap into next generation gaming. But whether or not the Wii U is more advanced than our trusted PS3 and Xbox 360 gaming consoles, is a question worth asking.

We saw a lot of impressive features of Wii U at the E3, making it seem as a definite competitor to the Kinect for Xbox360. However, Nintendo remained – and has still remained – quiet about the detailed hardware specifications of the futuristic Wii U.

First, we do know that it will be using the last generation ATI graphics card, the 4890, and while that isn’t the most powerful GPU available in the modern era, it definitely is superior to the 5-year old GPUs being used in the PS3 and Xbox360, such as the ATI X1900. Furthermore, Wii U will also be utilizing Directx 10.1, whereas Xbox360 is still on the old DirectX 9.

But anyone with a bit of insight regarding consoles would know that the GPU doesn’t play as big of a role in consoles as it does in PCs. So what is the processor being used? Is it powerful enough to slay the graphical prowess of the PS3 and Xbox360? Is it truly next generation graphics? These questions haven’t been answered the way we would’ve liked. Also, there is adequate information to say that Wii U doesn’t sit in the current generation or the next one.

According to some of the developers such as Crytek and Gearbox, the Nintendo Wii definitely surpasses the hardware performance of the other two major consoles. Crytek has stated that their advanced CryEngine will run smooth as butter on the Wii U, while Gearbox is stating that their Alien: Colonial Marines will run with textures having higher resolutions than seen on any other platform.

We can’t truly point out which CryEngine Crytek was talking about, but we’ll assume they meant both the CryEngine 2 and 3. However, Gearbox has clearly indicated that Wii U has more capability than the PS3 and Xbox360 in terms of graphics.

So that means we’ll be witnessing the next-generation graphical performance soon? Not quite. Actually, the Wii U is neither next-gen nor current-gen; it stands right in between the two. It gives better output than the other two consoles, but isn’t truly what is expected of the next-gen consoles; call it a transition console, if you like.

What this fact does is raise questions regarding the timing of the Wii U. Sure, it’ll really give competition to the PS3 and Xbox360 for now, but we might be seeing the Playstation 4 and Xbox 720 in a year or two, and it’s more than a safe assumption the two will be definitely next-gen consoles.

So does that indicate that the Wii U only has a competitive life-span of two years at the most? Or is Nintendo keeping some vital information to itself, waiting to reveal it at the perfect time for the wow-factor? We can’t know for sure at this instant, but what we do know is that the Wii U has impressed video game industry, so it might truly have something special.