Platform: Wii U
Reviewed by: Darryl Linington
Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft, ZombiU is the latest first-person shooter/survival horror title to grace Nintendo’s latest console, the Wii U. While most tend to think that ZombiU is an entirely new concept, the game is actually a re-imagining of the first game that Ubisoft ever published, which is titled Zombi. Zombi was originally an arcade-adventure title that saw four protagonists exploring a shopping centre that had been stuffed to the brim with mindless, flesh eating Zombies. While Zombi was indeed a classic… can ZombiU bring something new to the survival horror platter… or should it be served fresh, bloody and warm to a horde of angry Zombies waiting in line for their next meal at the checkout counter? Well, let’s find out!
Set in London, ZombiU follows the aftermath of a great plague, The Black Prophecy, which has overwhelmed the population. While only a small portion of the population survived… the rest faced a death that not made them suffer in torment, but also re-animated their remains into mindless, grotesque, flesh eating Zombies. It is now up to you, one of the many random survivors, to follow the orders of “The Prepper” (a survival expert who was prepared for the outbreak); Sandra (leader of the secret society named “The Ravens of Dee”) and Dr. Walker (who is trying to find a cure for the zombie virus) in order to survive the onslaught of countless fat-chewing Zombies.
While ZombiU is indeed about survival the question still remains… how long will you survive? You see, death in ZombiU is permanent which means that once your survivor is bitten there is no going back, no reviving them and no other option than to start off with a new survivor in order to progress. This is what makes ZombiU unique, challenging and rather interesting to play… rather than reloading your game after death, you start off fresh with another survivor; however, just keep in mind that although your overall progress is still saved, you will lose any upgrades and equipment that you found along the way. Luckily, you can always track down your former survivor, now Zombie, in order to gain some more experience points and claim back any equipment that you may have scavenged.
During my experience with ZombiU I managed to clock around 6 hours straight with one survivor; however, I was eventually bitten and had to start fresh with a new survivor. This is where I found out a rather simple, but useful tactic… you see, the fact still remains that during the course of this title you will die over and over again; however, you can make life a little easier for yourself by stockpiling as much ammunition, health packs and explosives as possible in order to progress further with each new survivor. I started off small by collecting a few items here and there in order to store them in the safe house. Overall, this made life a little easier every time I had to start off with a new random character.
When it comes to initial gameplay, ZombiU utilises the Wii U’s hardware in an innovative and extraordinary way. You see, the Gamepad not only controls your characters movements and defensive actions, but it is also used to scan the environment for enemies, items and other points of interest and is also used as a fully functional map. Furthermore, the Gamepad is used to shuffle and use items that are currently located in your backpack; unlock doors with key codes and other numerous input functions while trying to fend off the onslaught of walking corpses. This brings a sense of reality to ZombiU, which means, do you sprint for the nearest exit or do you potentially expose yourself to the undead in order to search for something in your backpack or hack a panel? It is an intense experience that takes survival horror to the next level.
I will admit that some aspects of combat can be slightly frustrating while using the Gamepad; however, once you get used to the controller setup things tend to become slightly easier. Once things kick-off you will start off with a cricket bat, which screams Shaun of the Dead, and a handgun… you can either go in swinging or guns blazing (just be warned ammo is scarce within this title). This is where things become interesting as melee attacks make less noise than handgun fire, which means with less noise the less attention you draw to yourself. While one or two Zombies go down quite easily with the cricket bat… there will be many moments where you will have to resort to using firearms and explosive to dispose of the undead; however, as stated before, these make loads of noise, which attracts even more Zombies to your location. So, the question still remains… how long will you survive?
Graphically, ZombiU is not entirely the best looking title to grace the Wii U; however, it still looks good. Ubisoft has done a great job of depicting London in a dark and sinister way, which really gives this title an atmosphere that is chilling, intense and an overall pleasure to experience. The Zombies featured within ZombiU are detailed and look rather disturbing, which also adds authenticity to this title… it is just unfortunate that the actual survivors don’t look as good as everything else within this title. While this is probably due to the random character generator, more time could have been spent on making each survivor a little more graphically appealing.
Sound is one of the key factors that makes ZombiU so chilling, as you will be listening out for the undead quite often, which is why Ubisoft has done a fantastic job when it comes the sounds featured throughout this title. Additionally, the voiceovers have been done in a professional manner, which really brings such a great atmosphere to this title. As much as I wanted to play this title with a killer set of headphones, mainly the Tritton AX Pro’s, the Wii U lacks an optical out input, which means standard headphones will have to be used to experience the every single chilling sound that this title has to offer.
ZombiU also features some great multiplayer functionality, which includes “The King of the Zombies.” During the course of this mode one player uses the Wii U GamePad and another uses the Wiimote or Pro Controller. The player using the Gamepad has the ability to drop Zombie hordes into the level, while the player trying to survive attempts to capture flags and defend themselves against numerous enemies. I quite honestly had a blast playing The King of the Zombies; however, it can become slightly repetitive after a few hours.
As ZombiU was a launch title for the Nintendo Wii U, it was anticipated as one of those titles that was just developed haphazardly in order to be in time with the launch; however, it is nothing of the sort due to its unique gameplay controls, interesting storyline and the games ability to finally bring back the horror factor to the survival horror genre.
While Ubisoft has done a fantastic job with ZombiU, the game still suffers from a few issues; however, these issues are minor and don’t entirely upset this titles balance. Additionally, the multiplayer needs a little more variety and the actual survivors needed a little more work.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a unique experience, challenging gameplay and a rather intense atmosphere then ZombiU will have you hooked… even with its flaws.
Reviewed on Wii U