Review by beyondgoodhope
"ZombiU Review- A Great Game in a Dying Genre"
Hello and welcome to my review of ZombiU for the WiiU. Being one of the few original games that weren't a sequel or port that was available at the WiiU's launch, it caught many people's attention. Originally starting out as Killer Freak, it grew into what many people were calling the Red Steel of the WiiU. As this isn't a fair judgment, I can see how people said this because it does use the WiiU game pad in MANY different ways, but let's start the review.
ZombieU may seem like your typical zombie game that tries to copy what the modern Resident Evils are doing when you take a quick glance at it, but it does what zombie games haven't done in a while and that is give you a sense that the next zombie could be your last. I'm not insulting games like Left 4 Dead, which I LOVE, but it's nice to play a true and tried zombie survival horror game. ZombiU also offers a challenging experience, but it never seems unfair or cheap. One mechanic that was the biggest draw was that when you die, it doesn't have you reload your last save but you play as a new survivor. Everything else like your progress in the story stays the same, but your character is different. Just like Demon Souls, you have to find your last character that is either a zombie or just a corpse on the ground, depends on how you die, and get back your stuff. Just like Demon Souls, if you die while trying to get your stuff, it's gone forever. Without this mechanic, the game would lose a lot of its appeal. That feeling of fear while trying to get back to your stuff and all the ammo you've been hoarding is like no other, especially when you run into a zombie.
The story is weak and you won't really care much about. A prophecy says that in 2012, London will be overrun by the dead. A group of people have been preparing for this day and now the day has come. You, the player, stumble upon a resting station that the groups of preppers have set up. A mysterious man who goes by The Prepper and helps you to survive the zombie infested streets of London. There is also a scientist who wants to find a cure for this disease and you try to assist him as well. Its pretty generic and you most likely won't care about it. The characters aren't interesting either.
The combat has been criticized by many major website and they may have a point, but ZombiU isn't trying to Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil 6, it's trying to be survival horror. The game's main weapon is a cricket bat and yes, it is slow and you do need quite a few swings to kill a zombie, but that what makes the game suspenseful and puts you at the edge of your seat. If you could just swing your bat around like a mad man and get 5 hits in 2 seconds, then what's scary about that? I do wish there were more melee weapons that you could use though. There is also gun play which is pretty good, and there are a couple of different guns which is nice there is some variety. Some of the guns like the sniper and turret use the WiiU gamepad for you to aim and some could see this as annoying and some can see this as cool use of the gamepad. I'm more of in the middle; I don't really care about it and you don't have to use these weapons except for a couple of times. You can also push a zombie back which is nice because it gives you time to wind up your cricket bat.
This is one of those game where a couple of hits and your dead so you have to pick and choose fights because you may slip up and then the zombie grabs you and kills you. The more enemies there are the harder it gets and it's like micro managing when fighting more than one enemy because you can't just hit them, you have to hit one then push one back then repeat till all of them are dead. The game discourages fighting groups of enemies and instead just run away. The game does have some parts where there are just a ton of zombies who attack you at once. Even though it make go OH $#@% it also emphasizes a part that this game is not. Again there aren't many of these parts so that's good. There are also different types of zombies like one that explodes. I dislike the different types of zombies and wish they just had the normal zombies and the zombies with the police armor.
WiiU gamepad is used in many different ways, over 15 ways to be exact according to the box. Some are just gimmicky and have no reason of being in the game. Some features really add to the game and the immersion aspect. My favorite use is that you can manage your inventory on the screen. This may be simple but the game still goes on, so you have watch out for zombies while organizing your inventory. It adds to the immersion of the game and makes you feel like you're never safe. This is also the same case when you are picking locks, hacking, and open a manhole. Open a manhole just boils down to tapping a circle and it would have been better without this. Another cool feature is that you have a radar that tells you if there are any living things in around you. They could be zombies but they could be just rats so it adds a little something and can be a little funny that you did all this preparing to fight 4 zombies but there's only one and the rest are rats. All the other functions aren't special but they are useful and not annoying.
The graphics are okay; they aren't outstanding and it doesn't show off what the WiiU can do, but they get the job done. I do have to say that the lighting effects are great. The environments vary from okay to great. The best areas are the ones based on famous buildings and areas of London. There are some areas that aren't famous landmarks that are pretty good. The areas are filled with different things to loot, while most don't have anything; some have some health items and ammo. There isn't much variety in the enemy design and the character design. You will see the same zombie multiple times in the game and the different characters you play as look very similar. The sounds effects and voice acting are good, not really much to complain about here.
The game also adds another element from Demon Souls and that is the feature to leave messages for other players. The developers have been adding some messages which are cool when you see them and you know that they care about this game. Another cool feature is that another player's past character can enter your game. The zombie also includes all the stuff the player died with too and its always exciting to see that one entered your game and see what items you could get.
The game also offers a multiplayer that has one person using the gamepad and controlling zombies, while the other player who is using the pro controller or Wii remote/ nun chuck tries to complete the objective. It could of benefited from online functionality, but at least the developers tried to do something different when they could of just tacked on some generic death match mode and call it a day.
Overall ZombiU isn't perfect, but it's still a great game. It may have an okay story and okay graphic, but this game isn't about those things. ZombiU is about providing the player fear and should be checked out by survival horror fans or someone who is looking for something original to play on their WiiU then pick up ZombiU. I also hope that there will be a sequel so they can fine tune the game and make it a bigger better experience.
SCORE- 3.75 stars
PROS- Fun gameplay, some good environments, permadeath system, some cool gamepad functions, unique online functionalities
NEUTRAL- The graphics, sound effects/ voice acting
CONS- Bad story, some gimmicky gamepad controls
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 01/17/13, Updated 01/18/13
Game Release: ZombiU (US, 11/18/12)
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