Do you want to know what gets my motor going in a video game? Corpse retrieval. Ever since my first time playing EverQuest on PC almost twelve years ago, I was introduced to a game mechanic that was so infuriating that I wanted to slam my computer desk in anger…..Why? The penalty for death in such a game is to be reborn with nothing in your possession and track down your corpse to obtain all of your items again. That moment of nakedness gives you the extreme sense of urgency that no other game can create. It seemed like this particular death penalty was put to pasture until it was popularized again in the Souls series (Demons’ Souls and Dark Souls) and again in ZombiU, exclusively for the Wii U.
The developers leave messages in the game world, and players choose to spray paint all over them....
ZombiU is a survival horror game that offers a unique and rewarding experience for gamers that could only be possible on the Wii U; however, not everything is perfect in this Ubisoft Montpellier developed horror fest. ZombiU sets the tone from the get go by placing players in the control of a not-so-important resident of a zombie infested London, England. You are thrown directly into a horde of zombies, which requires you to quickly learn how to run, or sprint with a quick left-stick-click, in order to survive the first thirty seconds of the game. The moment you start the game, there is no down time, no sense of tranquility, until you see the credits roll nearly twelve hours later.
While playing ZombiU, you will go through a series of “missions” in a connected world designed to mirror real world London. The story in ZombiU definitely takes a back seat to other aspects of the game; however, it is always the driving factor behind survivors slow-walking from location to location whilst whacking zombies left and right. I found the story intriguing; therefore, I will not go in to any detail on what this story contains in order to prevent any spoilers.
This is the player's safe house. The only spot you are safe from zombies.... Or so you thought!
With that said, the story is not why you play this game. You play it because of the atmosphere and the truly unique experience this game gives you. In ZombiU, you creep your way through realistic structures (still being vague not to ruin locals within the game) with a cricket bat in hand trying your best to survive so that you can progress through the story and ultimately discover some interesting tidbits as to why the zombies exist and what happened to residents of London. The game truly is a challenge and you will not be able to simply walk through the game, even though walking will be your manner of movement for a majority of the game. Around every corner is something waiting to kill you and ruin your day; however, the game gives you the tools to be prepared at all times. The tool is your Wii U Gamepad, which acts like a radar that beeps whenever something living is in the vicinity. This is a nice feature because it lets you keep your attention on the TV while a nice beep lets you know a bad zombie is around the corner.
Make sure you actually hit them in the face, it may be your last shot!!
Depth is added to the game when you finally encounter those face-rotted creatures. The game gives you a handful of choices when facing the zombies, such as beating them with a cricket bat, which you will be doing around 75% of the time, shooting them with a surprisingly vast, and diverse, number of fire arms, tossing grenades, or setting landmines (be careful around these). I will spoil one thing though: this game has a crossbow and it is amazing. For nearly two hours, I was walking around with my bow, shooting zombies in the head with a crossbow then running in with a swift cricket bat to the dome to deliver the kill in one melee hit. Ultimately, I would retrieve my one and only arrow from the dead zombies skull. This was a two hour period of pure bliss. That is, until, I took aim with my crossbow, missed the zombie, and lost my one and only arrow for the rest of the game…
Even with a scope on my bow, I missed and ruined my fun....
Losing that arrow is just one instance of limited resources. I mentioned using the cricket bat for 75% of kills because ammo is truly a scarce resource in this game. Every time I stumbled upon some bullets, I took them straight to my safe-house and placed them in storage bin in anticipation of a moment in which walking in guns-blazing would be necessary, and such a time does eventually come. Part of the game does involve resource management and having your inner monologue wondering if you should toss your last grenade or wait until you are literally looking death in the face. Looking death in the face and losing that battle is when ZombiU is most intense. I mentioned the importance of resource management and how everything is a limited resource, and this is especially true when you die. There are only three constants in ZombiU: your cricket bat, a handgun containing six bullets, and the fact that you will die. Upon death, your character is turned into a zombie roaming the area in which you were bitten. You are then spawned as another not-so-important resident of London, England equipped with only a cricket bat and a handgun with six bullets. Your objective now is not to complete you mission, but you track down your zombie, kill it and regain your coveted weapons and items. If you fail to kill your zombie, however, a new one is created and your old zombie, along with all of the items it held, is lost forever. I had this happen to me four hours in to my first play through of the game. I had the option of continuing the game with no guns and just a cricket bat or restart the entire game over; I chose the latter of the two. Is this frustrating? Of course it is; however, this style of game play gives you a sense of urgency that you cannot find easily in gaming in this day and age. It should be noted that killing zombies is not the only thing you do in this game. There is a great deal of puzzle solving in this game and it gets to the point where you will really scratch your head wondering what to do next. The puzzle solving and adventure aspects of the game do a great job of breaking up what seems to be an endless zombie killing spree.
This player is about to make a huge mistake...R.I.P...
Controls in the game are simple and responsive. Move with the left stick, look around with the right. This is standard for anyone who played a first person game on a console within the last seven years. Combat is achieved by holding the left trigger to raise your bat or gun and pushing the right trigger to swing or shoot. The Wii U gamepads screen adds some further engagement to ZombiU. You use the touch screen to manage your inventory and to perform contextual actions, such as inputting numbers on a keypad to unlock doors and to break boards nailed to doors. You can also raise and move the game pad to make it act as a scanner for the environment. Certain guns require you to use the game pad screen with motion to aim and shoot. Some of this may sound gimmicky, but I assure you it is implemented in a smart manner that does not interrupt the gameplay. As a matter of fact, because of the gamepad, nothing is interrupted in the game, even when you are moving items in your bag. Zombies can attack you at any time.
Inventory management in real time... I hope he checked for zombies first!
The gameplay is elevated by the way the game is presented. You walk around this dark world with brilliant lighting and realistic ambiance, which makes for a strikingly real experience. The sound of a zombie looming in the distance was enough for the hairs on the back of my neck to become daggers. Because of this amazing ambience, I was able to have multi-hour game sessions without taking my eyes off the TV, except when I had to look at the gamepad to manage my inventory. Though the lighting and ambience is some of the best seen in recent years, the graphics are rather indifferent. I feel as if they are neither good nor bad; they just exist. While playing through the game, I never stopped to admire how pretty things were; yet, at the same time, I never wished the game looked any better than it already does.
Despite being a dominantly single-player game, ZombiU goes above and beyond typical launch games by adding an engaging online mode that makes you feel truly connected to your Wii U friends. I mentioned above the penalty for death is having to chase down your previous character’s zombie and kill it to retrieve your missing items. When your Wii U is connected online, dying and creating a zombie will have effects on your friends game and vice versa. Every time you die, your zombie is sent to all of your friends who own ZombiU, and the first person to track you down and kill you will claim all of the items you are holding. A friend killing your zombie does not take away from your game, which you are still able to track down your previous self and claim your rewards. This adds some unexpected paths to the game because, while playing, you will get a notification on your screen stating a player’s zombie is in your game and it gives you a general idea as to where to go to find it. You then change your course to find that zombie, kill it, and be completely delighted when you find sixty handgun bullets. Can someone say shooting spree?!
ZombiU does include a local multiplayer mode; however, it is different enough from the single player game that it feels like an add-on. It is important to note that I did not play the multiplayer portion; therefore, I will not let its existence change my score.
They are obviously doin' the Bern...
ZombiU is the type of game that needs to be experienced by all. Unfortunately, there is not much to offer in the game once you beat the story. There is a harder difficulty mode that ends your game immediately upon death if you are a masochist, but this review is not. Even though I think ZombiU is a one and done type of game, it still gives you something no other game does and I truly feel every video game enthusiast needs to play this game. I do not regret spending $59.99 on a game that only lasted twelve hours for me. I spent every minute enjoying the game that is not interrupted by crazy cut scenes or movies. The game grabs you instantly and does not let you go until the credits roll. After that, it is your choice if you want to put your skills to the test or just walk away from the game completely satisfied. I suggest this game to anyone who owns a Wii U at whatever price. If you have never played this game, you have no excuse not to go out and buy it: what the heck is releasing in the next month anyway?
Positives: + Engaging gameplay + Truly frightening + Freedom in combat +Comprehensive and responsive controls + Perfect use of the Wii U Gamepad
Nice review, Scrawno. You should give multiplayer a try. I haven't put enough time into it to vouch for it, but it is, at least, pretty interesting. Would've been way better if it supported more than 2 players, though.
Wonderful review. I need to get the balls and motivation to play this more. I never continued after losing track. but The Walking Dead on steam and Xenoblade are currently on my list of active games, not to mention the slew of backlogged titles.
I was scared of dying, which i've yet to do in ZombiU, for fear of losing my shit and also fear of the game overwhelming me. Would you say the game is just right, a little easy, or a little hard, or something else? I want a fun, semi-challenging experience.
So the beeping of the gamepad ALWAYS works? like it'll always detect a zombie or other living thing? Because then I wont spend way too long creeping around slow even when it looks clear and I don't hear a beep. I'm always perhaps overly cautious.
And even if you die a lot, is the game beatable like that? Does it ever become so balls hard that if you don't have a specific thing, or tons of ammo saved up, then you'll die?
If the game is that hard and stressful, Maybe my solution is to play it on the "lil' bitch" setting...
I rated this game a 7.5. It's always hard to score a glitchy game because people who encounter the glitches often have a drastically different opinion than those who don't. I do think it does a lot right, but they should have put more effort into making sure everything ran smoothly. Even though my playthrough was negatively affected by glitches, I consider myself lucky not to have gotten any game breaking glitches as a couple of my friends did.
@DrFinkelstein I found the game to be just right. If it was easier, the stress and tense feelings would go away and the game would be wasted. If it was harder, the game would be too frustrating and too easy to walk away from.
Without spoiling things, for the most part you will be alerted when something is there!
I hoped you realize that if you die trying to reclaim your previous life's possessions, the weapons/ammo aren't lost forever. They merely are sent back to the original spots you found them. A chore to be certain, but nothing is truly ever lost.
Good review Scrawnton! I thoroughly enjoyed this game for all the reasons you mentioned, including an honest sense of dread and a very real fear of death lurking around every corner. This is true survivor horror.
I didn't realize how useful that crossbow really was until I read this review! That's too bad the weapon was no longer too useful once you missed your shot that one time.
The game definitely makes great use of the GamePad, and I loved the integration of Miiverse by having your friends pop up as zombies loaded with their weapons and ammo at the time of their death. Good stuff! This game is easily a 9 in my book.
I definitely have to try this game out eventually. This and Darksiders 2 are next on my list of Wii U games to try out to fill the long, dark void that the Rayman delay left in our souls. I probably wouldn't have gotten Rayman right away anyway.
@roykoopa64@Zero I'm actually a really brilliant and quick writer, but I don't blame you guys for not expecting that based one my regular posting grammar. If I'm actually on a compute, not my iPad, and have the desire to type formally, I can bang out pages left and right. That's why I liked typing papers in college so much, it was so easy for me.
I didn't say I didn't expect it from you personally. I just find it difficult to grasp that anyone can pull that off. I suppose if someone put a gun to my head and said do it, I could knock out something decent fast. But on my own terms that's next to impossible. I write most of my reviews over the course of a few days, to be honest. Not that I sit there all day writing them, but mentally it feels like too much to cram into a single session.
But on my own terms that's next to impossible. I write most of my reviews over the course of a few days, to be honest. Not that I sit there all day writing them, but mentally it feels like too much to cram into a single session.