A new home console is upon us, with that comes unique games built from the ground up to take use of most, if not all, of the new features and aspects of the new console. This time it is Ubisoft’s own ZombiU for the brand new Nintendo Wii U chance to shine. And shine it does. ZombiU is a survival horror game dealing with zombies in a zombie-infested London. These last few years, the term survival horror, has really been loosely used and often associated with fast-paced gun trotting action games. This game really takes the term survival horror back to it’s roots.
The main concept that really makes this game unique is that your character only lives once. This means that once you die, you will be respawn as a brand new survival with none of your previous supplies or skills. Once you are dead, your new survival will have to track down your previous infected self and retake your loot back. If you die on your way to do this, that previous survival will disappear and your newly infected self will replace it. This means any guns you collected will be gone. But not forever, using the CCTV cameras in your safe house, you can scan the game world for new locations for your weapons. This aspect of dying and tracking down and looting your previous survival is really done well here. Any tools such as the hammer and bigger backpack will always be with you, so those unique items won’t have to be hunted down again. This however only applies to the main normal game. There is a 2nd mode called Survival Mode. In this one, you literally only live once. If you happen to die, it’s game over. This makes for a very hard and unique challenge to undertake.
As previously mentioned, this is a survival horror game. One that main emphasis is on the survival part. Other then your guns and grenades, your only melee weapon is a wooden cricket bat. The game tries to go for a realistic approach when it comes to surviving and killing the zombies. This means that killing zombies is made not so easy. For example: the cricket bat takes about 3 to 5 hits to the head and the handgun takes 1 to 2 shots. The cricket bat is useful in conserving ammo, but is really more of a last resort type of weapon. Fighting against 3 or more zombies at the same time is never a good idea. You can possible kill them easily with a grenade or distract them a flare, but it is generally a bad idea to go up front against a bunch of zombies at once. In most cases, stealth and trickery is your best weapon. Zombies are as you might expect from any media with zombies, sensitive to sound and light. You can use this to your advantage however to lure away 1 or 2 zombies at a time to pick off a big group.
The longer your current survival lasts in the world, the better your weapons will become. There are two types of upgrades your guns can receive. The first is in the way of physical upgrades. Throughout the game, you will find special tools to increase your ammo capacity and firepower for example. Once applied to a weapon, these will always be present on your weapon, even if you happen to die. The other type are skill upgrades. The more zombies you kill with a certain type of weapon, the better it becomes. These will always reset if you happen to die. After each level increase, your weapon will start to become better in a few select areas. For example your reload animation will decrease allowing for quick reload. Your character will also auto-aim at an zombie faster as if it was second nature.
If you happen to have any friends registered on your Wii U, any that have the game might actually appear as zombies in your game. The same will happen for you whenever you die. This allows you to mercy kill them and take any loot they might have. Along with their NNID, it will also show you their ZombiU score. The longer they last and the more zombies they kill results in a better score in the game. Once you mercy kill your friend, you will find any supplies they might have had on them. The score will also help in giving you a clue on what they might have. Those that have a very low score might actually have nothing. Those that died after surviving very long in the game might have a lot. The score does however determine the kind of zombie they are. The bigger their score, the harder they will be to kill. This aspect is really an awesome feature, so do be sure to add as many friends as you can on the Wii U.
The game is a semi-open world game set in the heart of London. The story itself however is fairly linear. The game starts off with your character being brought into the safe house by The Prepper, a guy who has been prepared for this for a very long time. Soon enough, you will be sent out into the world on little missions to help better prepare you and your safe house. Along the way you will meet up with other survivals who might or might not help you. Some might just be worse then those zombies that keep trying to eat you. Eventually the game turns into a hunt for a potential cure for this epidemic. For the most part, this is a fairly nice and enjoyable story to play through. It does feel a little short however. It took me about 14 to 15 hours to beat the game. This is a fairly decent length of course, it just felt like the story had more to offer and ended too quickly.
The game is normally set in a darkly lit setting. This does well to increase the horror and the nervousness from fighting those zombies. Although the game looks nice on my TV, there are some small areas where the game doesn’t shine so brightly. On some static items, static doors, and posters on the walls, a good bunch of them are low quality. The mostly dark settings inside the games do well to hide some of this. The sound in the game is really where it shines the most. The voice actors and actresses do a great job at making both the living and the not so living characters sound alive and full of life. The eerie music and background noises also do an excellent job of keeping things tense and frightening. They really do a good job at making me want to run and hide whenever the music starts to pick up.
Though this game is a loads of fun, there are some rather annoying issues with it. The first thing that needs to be addressed is the loading times. The game has some pretty bad loading times. It wouldn’t be as bad if you only had to load each area once, but in most cases, the game initially loads the sub-part of the area you enter first and then tries to load any connection sections of that area. Most times you will not notice this since they are far away from each other. But when you use the tunnels to get around as a quick travel, you will be next to one section that requires more time to load. This becomes rather irritating Even more annoying if a group of zombies is on your tail. There are also a few glitches found in the game that can be annoying or become game breaking. But those seem to be uncommon.
In the end, I really recommend ZombiU for the Nintendo Wii U. Despite some of it’s shortcomings, it really is a fantastic survival horror game that becomes really addicting. The aspect of each character only living once and having to track down your previous survival makes this a challenging and gives it some unique gameplay. The ability to also kill and loot your friend’s zombied survivals also makes this rather fun. If you are expecting this to be a fast-paced game similar to Call of Duty with Zombies or Left 4 Dead, this game may not be for you. But if you are wanting a zombie game that key aspect is to survive, similar to older Resident Evil and other classic games, this is for you.