Top critical review
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A good attempt to bring survival horror to it's roots, littered with technical issues.
on 13 January 2013
ZombiU really is one of the more interesting WII U launch titles, it was talked about with everyone who was interested in getting the WII U as it would be the first 18+ rated game that would be one of the first games to launch with Nintendo's new console. Also, the game promised to bring back the old survival horror gameplay, remind us of how this genre is supposed to work, even though ZombiU does do a good job at being a survival horror game it does have a few hit and misses. Let's take a gander!
The story behind ZombiU is that a zombie outbreak has taken over the entire world, everything has fallen into chaos, zombies are everywhere and you, a survivor have to try and live the hellish nightmare of a zombie infested London for as long as you can. There isn't really much story to go here apart from the characters who seem to babble on how they 'knew' this was coming and all that jazz, there are news articles and and all kinds of information you can find around the game's world which give you a insight of what happened before and during the events of the zombie outbreak, but I won't spoil it here.
When you jump into the world of ZombiU you'll find yourself having to run away from a horde of zombies and this isn't a cut scene you're actually controlling the character and running for your life a great way to introduce you to the game and as well give you the idea that you are indeed, just a normal person who's in the middle of this hell hole, no special operative, no CSI, S.A.S guy, just a normal, everyday guy. With this in mind it should be noted that ZombiU is really more slow paced than that of the fast paced and action intense Dead Space franchise or... Resident Evil... 6? So if you're looking for more of an action game with horror then you probably won't find it here, this is a game where you really need to take it slow and learn to think ahead of your adventures into the unknown, running in and going mad with the weapons probably most of the time won't end well... For you anyway, the zombies will probably get a nice snack.
Gameplay comes down to basically following the game's objectives and trying to last with your character for as long as you can. When you start out your character has nothing on him, apart from a B.O.B or Bug Out Bag, with this bag you can store in a small selection of items into it and take it around with you on your journeys. This is great because it really makes you think about what kind of items you want to take and how many because you never really know what kind of encounters will happen. Your melee weapon is the good old cricket bat and this baby really is a fun thing to use when it comes to clubbing down zombies, however you'll quickly learn that sometimes that the cricket bat isn't the best weapon to use for some situations so you'll find yourself using weapons like mines, moltovs, rifles, shotguns, you name it! Another thing that's really cool is that guns can be upgraded, if you have the needed parts in order to do so, these upgrades allow you add things like better firepower, more ammo the common stuff.
However you may find that the controls for this may not really be up to snuff and you might find yourself being killed because of how the game controls, I wouldn't say the controls are terrible but they really do take sometime to get used to. The zombies in ZombiU aren't exactly push overs either. Some of them can really take a beating though this is cool there'll probably be moments where you'll find yourself pinning the zombie to a corner and smacking him around until he drops dead, and when it takes around 5-7 hits it can get tedious pretty quickly.
And the zombies, if you give them the chance will kill you, this is a game really does try to get you at certain sticky spots, like when you think there's only one zombie, if you attack it you'll suddenly be invaded by 3 more, it's a cool idea that really makes you think if going straight in for the kill is really a good idea. And zombies can grab you and will bite you, this is like a instant death move, if you find yourself grabbed, that's it that character is DEAD, and you don't continue with that character too, this is way things get interesting.
As stated above when your character is killed by being eaten or smacked around by zombies you'll take on the role of a completely new character with nothing on you expect for the stuff you happened to store away in your stash at the safe house, yes, you have a safe house. And if you reach the area where your last character died there is a possible chance that character will have turned into a zombie and will attack you. If you can kill this one zombie you can loot the corpse's B.O.B of the stuff you had on that character, it's a really cool idea and has a Dark Souls feeling to it.
When you manage your inventory space, the game doesn't pause and you have to look at your gamepad in order to see what you've got in your back, this adds a good amount of tension to the game because a zombie might just come at you from behind while you're seeing how many chocolate bars you have left, this happened to me once and I can assure you I had a panic attack and wrangled my gamepad around in not knowing what to do.
The game does try to use the gamepad for some moments in the game like using a radar to check any nearby zombies and tapping on the screen to break off a barricade on a door but it would have been nice to see the gamepad being used for much more. Like shaking the gamepad to get zombies off you, seeing how you might find yourself swinging the bloody thing around anyway it feels like a missed opportunity.
Believe it or not this game does have some kind of online implemented into it. Much like when you die and your last character turns into a zombie there's a chance that someone else's character from around world could appear as a zombie in your game, if they died anyway. It also shows the amount of points that player had and as well as their name. There's also chances of your friends appearing on your game, I dunno if friends appearing in your game is more common than just random people but it's a really neat idea and it's funny to speak about how you smacked them around to take their items.
The graphics for ZombiU are sadly very subpar even though the game does have a nice atmosphere and they did a really good in capturing the jolly... Good ol London but the game's textures do look kinda naff and low quality and the game tends to have a few hiccup moments. I ran into a glitch where an area didn't load correctly and most of the area was like some kind of grey limbo, as if I accidentally went into developers creation tools. And there are moments where you'll find yourself not being to go through a door because the game has to load the area, kinda annoying and unacceptable for a game on a next gen console, I also had another glitch happen to me where I pressed a switch to turn on a elevator and when the door opened I found 3 zombies in some kind of position as if they were running and stuck, frozen to the wall and disappeared and flopped out from the roof of the elevator if I shot at them, it kinda makes me wonder if Ubisoft actually bug tested this game before shipping it out.
So, honestly from what I played on ZombiU I had a lot of fun with it, granted it's got a few annoying moments like glitches, weird controls that'll take time to get used to but really this is a game that's hit and miss with everyone and the only way to really find out if you'll like it or hate it is to try it out for yourself. I'd say wait until a price drop for this game. It's a fun game in my opinion but felt like it needed more work. Ubisoft did a pretty decent job in trying to bring back the old school style of survival horror back into the modern gaming generation.
Good attempt at bringing back survival horror.
Great atmosphere, captures London quite nicely.
Looking at gamepad while game still plays on screen adds tension.
Being able to kill random players and friend's zombies for their loot is a great idea.
Controls are a little wonky.
Melee combat could have been implemented better, like more weapons aside from the cricket bat.
Poor texture quality in some areas.
Gamepad features feel slightly tacked on.