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Zombi U Review

You would have thought we were all but done with zombies by now but what with World War Z building hype and The Walking Dead still going strong it appears not and neither have Nintendo, in a rather surprising move in which they have packaged a third party game by Ubisoft with their new Wii U console.

My experience with Nintendo is summed up with one word, quality; knowing that each game which sports their name would have been meticulously tested and tweaked, at times delaying release for that piece of gaming perfection. My experience with Ubisoft on the other hand is one of rushed titles to meet a deadline, especially their track record with shovel-ware titles whenever a new console is released. I sound a bit harsh towards Ubisoft and in all fairness they do produce some classic titles, with Zombi U being one of my personal favourites, showing that whilst Nintendo are all about cute princesses and plumbers, they are just as keen to push the violence and adult themes they usually don't deal with; Zombi U is everything that Nintendo doesn't do and more.

Zombi U is classic survival horror at its best, but with plenty of new ideas thrown in. For a change the zombie holocaust has set itself right in the middle of London, where the fog and rainy nights hide more than a few hoodies and beggars. Even though this was a prophesised uprising of the dead, many were unprepared, dying during the initial outbreak. You are one of the few survivors with little in the way of protection, one wrong turn and it could all be over. Survival in Zombi U is always on a razors edge, with the introduction showing just this, the zombies quickly catching onto you and by pure luck your character stumbling across the Prepper, a faceless character who is always watching you across the many CCTV cameras around the city.

From the relative safety of the Prepper's bunker he will aid you in the way of survival, sending you on missions to gather items to assist with your survival, but very quickly it appears he is not the only survivor, with a few other influential people offering salvation as long as you can help them, and so off you go with a cricket bat, a PDA and a few rounds in a pistol you make way to the fog ridden streets of London.

Though initially low on ammo, it is readily available following some scavenge runs through the streets, picking up shotguns, rifles (each of which is upgradable) and a few mines along the way plus the indispensable cross bow with almost limitless ammo as it allows you to pull the bolts from dead bodies. Though a lot of offensive weapons are available, the most important piece of kit is the PDA or in the real world, the GamePad. It has varying uses, detailing your mission briefs, acting as a map or with a flip of the touch screen brining up your inventory of your backpack, allowing you to change items to the six quick equip buttons located at the top of the screen. However it's most important use is that it also works as a scanner, with your bringing it up to head height it can give you a full 360 view of all around you, allowing you to scan anything of interest, be it the infected, rubbish with items hidden in it to secret messages scrawled on the walls. Along with the upgradable weapons, during the story the PDA is also updated by specific characters like adding a permanent motion tracker to the map, pinging and showing a red dot on the map, be it infected or one of the many birds, it all adds to the overall tension of the game.

Just like London itself, the areas are spilt by numerous passageways and shortcuts, with only venturing deep into unknown territory opening up other routes that will save you time in the future, making those supply runs a little safer. Though early on you will struggle, at about fifteen deaths in I finally started to make some decent headway, gradually getting attached to my character before the inevitable horde wiped me out. As you slowly build your arsenal most encounters no longer become an issue, especially with single encounters, however the game will continually up the ante, adding more groups and even a few special zombies like spitters or even a radar effecting phantom.?

Though presented as a first person shooter ZombiU is not an all-out shooting fest, if you want that go for Left4Dead; here it is all about a slower pace, gathering vital items, learning the layout of the maps and using your PDA religiously, if you rush, you die. Death can come in many ways, sometimes it will be by your own fault like rushing into rooms, other times you feel a bit cheated, assuming the room is clear when a zombie slashes you from behind, to the more heroic, fighting to your last breath amidst a horde to the gutting, a mistimed swing of your only melee weapon, the cricket bat, leaving you open for a deadly lunge from a zombie, which unless you are loaded with a lifesaving injection earned later in the game you will quickly be joining the undead ranks.?

Now depending on the mode you are playing, after a brief cut scene you will find yourself back at the safe house, but as a different character, allowing you to pick up where you died, traveling back to the fateful spot to find your former character now looking for a little worse for wear. Take them out and you get all of the lovely goodies you thought previously lost in your bag. This idea works great, keeping the game flowing nicely and never letting you get stuck on the harder areas of the game. If connected online you may even occasionally come across a few online players, their dead corpses wandering the streets of London, waiting for you to bust them open for their loot.

Graphically it is all very dark and gloomy, with most of the game making you rely on the torch. With this there are loads of scary and effective lighting effects like creeping shadows of trees, made even more eerie by the excellent sound effects like the distant shuffle and groan of the undead or the well-used soundtrack that manages to ramp up the tension. There?s a decent variety of zombies out there to kill or avoid, with the Joe Blogs variety, wearing whatever apparel they turned in, civilians wandering around the streets of their former homes, then adding police officers and even riot police with helmets, each looking grisly, pieces of skull flying off and blood splattering the walls with every swing of your cricket bat.

A very brave move with the game is in the way it progresses, yes there is a narrative driven by the few survivors but these are only titbits of information about the Ravens of Dee and the prophecy, but for the majority of the game it is all down to you, searching for clues and information and making your own mind up as to whether to tackle a mission or make another supply run, there is no hand holding here, just warnings if you are venturing too far into the danger zone. I really like the idea that just by pure luck, some two hours into the game I scan the safe house and find not only a workbench that I had previously been running to another part of London to use but also a storage crate to stow away items, it is all about being aware of your surroundings and using your wits to survive.

An interesting addition to the game is the inclusion of a couple of multiplayer modes which are local rather than online. In both modes you have the King of the Zombies who uses the GamePad and the survivors who use either the Wii U Controller (recommended) or the Wii Remote and Nun chuck combination. Both of the modes available pretty much equate to the same ideals but with slightly different endgame rules with Assault, a capture the flag game and Killing Box playing like a variation of the Horde modes. The survivors play on the TV screen just like a classic first person shooter, either running to flag points to capture them or simply blasting away at the incoming zombie hordes. The survivors are able to choose from a simple weapons loud out at the start of the game, consisting of a mixture of handguns, rifles, machine guns, grenades and flares and once in the game, by skill of surviving they can collect more guns or even get lucky with bonuses dropping with mines or even an auto turret. The King of the Zombies has a slightly different role as they are charged with killing the survivors. Using the GamePad they have a bird's eye view of the map, showing the location of the survivors and any other mode specific items. Using the touch screen the King of the Zombies is able to tap and drop an assortment of zombies straight into the map to try and stop the survivor. Rather than just spamming the map full of zombies the King is restricted by having a total of eight on the map at a time plus each zombie comes at a cost, with tokens slowly recharging over time to purchase more. Starting with simple Hunters that slowly shuffle towards the survivor or a Grunt zombie that will go out to capture flags, the King gradually starts to rank up with each zombie purchased, with levelling up allowing you to choose from another selection, be it explosive hunters, sprinters, Spitters or armoured guards, that survivor really has got their work cut out for them. Spread over five maps inspired by the solo campaign, areas like rooftops, Brick Lane and a bunker will keep a group of friends entertained for ages.

From the initial play through to some multiplayer games Zombi U was slowly building to be another contender for game of the year, an enjoyable kind of Metroid hybrid but with zombies; but between writing this review and killing some time playing another run through I can across a game crippling bug, with a specific item required to proceed not appearing and making me unable to complete the game. Surprised with this and not having heard previously I replayed the same area and lo and behold it still would not appear. Having put some five hours on this play though I was reticent to start all over again and checking online there appears to be not one but a few similar incidents, but so far no remedy. With my first play this did not occur so I have no idea if carrying out specific goals out of order may of triggered these events, but none the less, this is a serious problem that I hope will be fixed quickly. This experience really took away a lot of the initial enjoyment I had with this game, reflecting back to the initial opening, Nintendo offer quality and by being so closely associated to this game, it tarnishes their reputation. Buyer beware, this is a great game spoilt by a couple of seriously damaging glitches.

Words by Ash Buchanan

(Version Tested: Wii U)


- Gory and can get scary.
- Great graphics and lighting effects.
- Excellent use of the GamePad.


- Game breaking glitches.
- The slow pace at the start may put people off.

Edited On 13 Dec, 2012

( 4 )
0000000000's avatar
0000000000 4 years ago
looks about the only game worth getting on the Wii U in my eyes.. does look so much fun but im not willing to buy a console at top price why i only like the look of 1 or 2 games... maybe 1 day ill own this or a mate will so i can play it there lol
Dead's avatar
New Mario Bros U and Nintendoland are also both great games, well worth getting the console for.
Dead 4 years ago
Dead's avatar
Dead 4 years ago
I've not come across any glitches in it, must just be bad luck if you get them.
shenmue4real's avatar
shenmue4real 4 years ago
Combat put me off this. Just way too slow and a case of swing, back up, ready self, swing and repeat.

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