Review by jkhayworth
"One of the Best Survival Horrors I've Played"
When I preordered my Wii U, I decided that I would preorder this game as well. It looked like a genuinely fun survival horror and I was interested to see how a third party, more "hardcore" game would do on the Wii U. Out of the games I have gotten for the Wii U, this has easily become my favorite.
ZombiU is an FPS Survival-Horror set in London post-zombie virus outbreak. You are a survivor who has been lucky enough to gain a friend and a mentor in this new world: the Prepper, who gives you shelter, weapons, and teaches you how to survive.
The music in this game is really fitting for the mood, haunting, desperate, and sometimes intense. I really love the piano pieces backed up by the guitars as it becomes more intense. The Nursery music will scare the poop out of you. Also the jump-scare music always gave me a jolt when a zombie would pop out of nowhere. However, occasionally I would hear a sort of jump-scare sound when absolutely nothing was happening, like I was just sitting in my safe house. One great thing about this game is that you can output the sound through the TV, stereo speakers, or directly to your gamepad. I really liked using that last option because I could just plug in a pair of headphones and not worry about disturbing my whole family with sounds of gunshots and zombies getting gored. The voice actor who played the Prepper was excellent, I don't think that anybody could have done it better. Same for a character named Dr. Genner. who you will meet. The voice actress for Sandra just got on my nerves though, so that lost them a point. The other point was taken for the random unprovoked jump scare noises and for one area in downtown London where a rest-house was had the build-up tension noises for a nearby area, which was obviously a glitch and took away from the mood.
At first I was afraid that the ZombiU controls would be terrible. I just couldn't believe how that gamepad controller could be used comfortably in an FPS. I was pleasantly proven wrong. Once you get used to ZombiU controls they will feel more natural than you could have imagined. You will use the bottom screen as a map/radar, your in-game menu, a scanner, and a turret control. All that comes seamlessly. The buttons and joysticks are all in the right places and have the right functions that you would think they would have. Multiplayer controls are also near perfect if you are using the gamepad. There is a bit of a learning curve for the zombie-control interface, but you'll quickly be having a blast competing with your friends. The wiimote fps in multiplayer is a different story, unfortunately. It's hard to aim, hard to turn, hard to do anything. Let's face it: wiimotes aren't made to be used in an fps. So if you are planning to play multiplayer for this game, I suggest you also go ahead and bite the bullet and buy a wii u pro controller. It has excellent battery charge and natural controls, and besides you'll get use out of it in more multiplayer or single player games in the long run anyway.
This game really shines in showing off the Wii U's HD graphics capability and CPU power. Cutscenes are displayed simultaneously on both the gamepad and TV, and they look great in both. The environment textures look real, the zombies are gross, the gore is disgusting-what more could you ask for from a survival horror? The survivors look like real people too, lighting is realistic, in the graphics department this game just really takes the cake.
I was happy to find that this is a rarity indeed: a survival horror with a fulfilling, entertaining, and realistic plot. There's lots of hints dropped at convenient points about Black-plague era physician John Dee and his prophecy of the Blight. You'll become attached to the Prepper and his dry British sense of humor, you'll be rooting on Dr. Genner on his quest for the Panacea; the characters in this game are important, as few of them as there are. Being a silent narrator, you can decide for yourself whether you agree with the Prepper's look out for number one mentality or Sandra's help other people for the greater good one. I was surprised to find out that there are actually three possible endings in this game, depending on how well you perform in the last couple of missions, so that was a neat feature. I'm just gonna say that the sequence of events and cutscene right before the credits actually almost brought a tear to my eye. So yes, again there is a great story here that fits right in with the atmosphere of the game.
The most important part of any game, gameplay. This game really delivers on both the survival and the horror of it's genre. If you try just barging through this game shooting like a maniac at anything that moves *cough cough Resident Evil 5* you're gonna get eaten. To beat this game you gotta be methodical, you gotta plan ahead, and you gotta use some strategy, just like you would have to do to survive in real life. People who scan their environments for traps and resources often will probably do better than those who blindly explore. There will still be points in the game where you do just have to blast away at zombie hordes in order to survive- and I assure you that these points will be plenty stressful enough- but that's not the aspect of the game the Ubisoft was focused on. A neat mechanism in this game is that if you die, you respawn as a different survivor. If you want your stuff back, you gotta hunt down your previous survivor's zombie and kill and loot it. Another unique feature is that if any of your friends on Nintendo Network die in this game, their zombie will show up in your game, allowing you to kill them and take whatever they were carrying. Also a neat quirk was scanning CCTV cameras to bring your smart map online. The final killer thing was that you can upgrade your weapons in areas like capacity, firepower, spread, and firing speed using upgrades you can find hidden around London. The horror of this game comes into play in this game by way of the Nursery which will hereafter be known as one of the scariest game levels ever. Also there are many areas where tension builds up to a jump scare, and times where you're just franticly trying to keep from getting overwhelmed. All in all, top notch gameplay on the part of Ubisoft.
Replay value is a hard thing to achieve on many games, and ZombiU tries to take a good jab at it. One thing that will keep you popping this game back into your system is the excellent multiplayer mode. It's a lot of fun for two people to play, so this does well at being a single player game with good multiplayer. The next thing that will bring you back is Survivor Mode. In this mode you have to beat the game with only one survivor: if you die, the game is over and you have to restart. For those of you that can handle the frustration of dying just short of the finish line, this should keep you challenged for a while. Also in this game is Ubisoft's new Uplay feature which is like a gaming network within a gaming network. Once you make your Uplay account you can unlock in game achievements that will give you points that you can use for unlocking more content such as a new multiplayer mode and a customizable cricket bat. So if you want the maximum amount of content, you'll have to go back and get all the achievements unless you manage to get them all in one playthrough. One last neat Uplay feature was the ability to take screenshots in-game and post them to the Miiverse.
Final Verdict: An excellent survival horror that makes its genre proud with only a few bugs and issues, this should be in any Wii U owner's game library. 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/17/13
Game Release: ZombiU (US, 11/18/12)
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