Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Genre: Survival Horror
Content Warning: This game is meant for 17 and older. The game is full of violence, gore, and parts with strong language.
As a launch title for the Wii U, ZombiU was highly anticipated. When reviewers gave ZombiU an above average score, most people did not end up purchasing the game. Those who did however, found out that is the best zombie survival game to date. So, who do I agree with? The multitude of game reviewers or the customers who purchased this game?
You are a voiceless character who’s identity is simplified to a name and occupation. That is all the game gives you and that is all you need. Why would you care about the main character then? I will explain that in the gameplay section. For now let me touch on what is going on. You are running from zombies when all of a sudden a voice starts telling you what to do. Since you do not have a weapon or a means to survive, you must choose to listen to the directions given. The game starts off with a bang as you are running from zombies with no real sense of direction besides what you are being told. This causes you to have a stress induced panic attack and thankfully the voice leads you to a safe house. From there, the mysterious man gives instructions on what to do and where to go. You never see him and know nothing about him but hey, do you have a better idea? Due to not wanting to post any spoilers I will simply say that the story is fairly simple but quite intriguing since it is all about escaping this apocalypse. Yes, you do finally see who the mysterious man is eventually and it is quite a twist to say the least. The story and gameplay had me motivated and this is a rare combination for most games I have played recently.
Remember how I said I would explain why you would become attached to your voiceless character? That is because they have one life. No respawning, nothing. If you die, then you die. However, when you die then you start back at the safe house as a new character and you have to go track down your previous character (who is now a zombie) and kill them to acquire all of your previous equipment. This is quite exhilarating and really makes you worried about dying, which seems to be non existent in other games nowadays. Your standard equipment is a cricket bat and a flashlight. If you want all of your flares, ammo, and weapons then you better track down your previous self. This is a jolting experience at first when you do finally see your former self all zombified. Anyways, so how does the game actually play? It is a first person survival game that you control using the Gamepad. You cannot use the pro controller since the Gamepad is your survival pack and digging around in it will not pause the game. At first this sucks but you get used to it and realize that it adds to the survival experience. It seems as if the game is open, and it is, but the main missions will have you unlock new areas constantly. Once you unlock an area then you can always go back anytime. The game is not overly large but you won’t find me going to previous areas unnecessarily since I value my life! As per the good survival game rules, ammo is limited and you will lean heavily on your cricket bat (which is indestructible) to deal with most zombies. If I had to deal with multiple zombies at once then I would whip out my pistol. Otherwise, I would try to knock them out one by one with the cricket bat. It is worth mentioning that the cricket bat takes five hits at minimum to kill a zombie. Later on in the game you will have done this so many times that it will become second nature. Another cool feature is the ever present leader board. When you die, you are given a score based on how long you lived and how many zombies you killed. I must say that the longest I survived with one character was around thirty minutes (it took me 18 people to complete the game) and once I saw my score, I had a greater appreciation for those on the leader board. All in all this game will take you around eight to nine hours to complete if you don’t rush. Most people who do rush (and have obviously played before) typically complete the game in a matter of five hours, if not less. Despite the length, I have the urge to replay the game again. The idea of playing through again for a faster time and not dying as much, really appeals to me. Not sure why that is however, ZombiU is the only Wii U game I own that is going to be kept forever along with the Nintendo published games. Also, if you feel like being super crazy and want a true survival experience, then play Survival mode. You have only character for the entire game. When you die then it is game over and you start all over again.
Graphics and Sound
To me this is the only part of the game that is a tad lackluster. The graphics are on par with 2008 games on the Xbox 360 and PS3. The Wii U is so much more powerful than this but, graphically the game is just above average. Nothing will amaze you yet nothing will pull you out of the experience either. The music is practically non existent aside from the really tense moments during the main missions. This actually works in the games favor as you are always on your toes with no cues as to where a zombie is. Well… there is one clue a zombie is nearby… That ever present grown they make when they spot you. This caused many panics on my end as I thought I was in the clear, only to have a zombie nearby! Luckily you can upgrade your Gamepad (in game) and have an ever present radar that will alert you of nearby foes. This helps alleviate the stress they cause and allows you to properly prepare for the showdown of smacking their skulls in.
If you love survival, zombie, or just good games in general then I recommend ZombiU. You can find it fairly cheap and it is well worth the price. Unfortunately, despite the solid sales, Ubisoft is giving up on the Wii U with mature games and will not be making a sequel. Maybe the Wii U master race can convince them otherwise?
The Bottom Line