The lights are on
Tuesday, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said the company would put out games like Watch Dogs on both current and next-gen consoles. Similarly, Nintendo's Wii U will feature titles like Assassin's Creed III and Mass Effect 3 that are already out on other systems. This kind of straddling between two hardware generations is nothing new, and is oftentimes a necessary evil to help bridge the gap.
Looking at the last round of consoles when they launched and how they utilized software that was already out for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 for example, those launches where littered with titles that had already been released. Although you'd expect such titles to be the same but with better graphics than their counterparts from the previous generations, that unfortunately wasn't always the case.
EA Sports' Madden series crapped the bed in its transition from the old generation to the current one, with the 06 and 07 Maddens scoring significantly less than the PS2 version, for example. Features were dropped and the feel of the game was totally off from what players were used to. Similarly, the PS3 version of Activision's Tony Hawk's Project 8 entirely lacked online play modes.
However, in a few cases – usually, where the developer had some extra time for the new iteration – the results were intriguing. Visual Concepts added Crease Control goalie play into NHL 2K6 for the Xbox 360 version that come out a few months after the PS2 and Xbox releases. Likewise, EA added more onscreen police and vehicles for the Xbox 360's Need for Speed: Most Wanted, as well as a first-person fighting mode for Fight Night Round 3 during the PS3's launch window.
For the Wii launch, developers naturally utilized the singular system in different ways than its contemporaries. But in the case of the Wii or PS3's Sixaxis motion controller, in the early days of the system (or, in the case of the Sixaxis, always) the concessions made to these platforms by console-spanning software was not worth the price of getting a seemingly inferior experience.
It's no surprise that Ubisoft or any other company would try to simultaneously reap the benefits of two concurrent console generations, but although you might be buying a game with the same title, it doesn't always mean it's the same game, so be sure to do your homework before buying.
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