This year has truly been the year of the zombie, we have had zombie games, movies and TV shows all year round and now that the Wii U is finally here, so is ZombiU.
In this day and age we are used to seeing a variety of zombies, from the DayZ zombies who will chase you down and sprint, to the Walking Dead’s walkers or even the crazy World War Z zombies who just look insane. ZombiU goes back to the original zombies, with a slow walk mixed with a groan and moan and a fondness for flesh, your flesh.
ZombiU isn’t a story driven game, the whole point is survival. Your character will have a small bio that you can look at with some small details but this isn’t supposed to be a focus.
Your only goal is to try and escape this nightmare alive, you have no idea how or why this has happened to London but you have to survive, even the captions before you start the game are “how long can you survive?”. So if your expecting to jump into a zombie infested world to find an intriguing story you certainly won’t find it here. If you are looking for an intense, heart pounding experience then you have come to the right place.
ZombiU clearly borrows certain elements from games over the past few years, especially the Souls series. Not because of its difficulty but because of its overall system. If you die you lose everything but you have the oppertunity to get it all back. You have to learn, the only way to beat this game is to understand how it works, you must learn how the how the zombies move and react so you can stay alive.
There are also certain places where you can spray paint and leave a messages with selected logos, these can help guide you to manholes and it can alert you of zombies, but just like in Dark Souls these messages can be fake and players are allowed to vote on their reliablity.
There is one feature in particular that I love with ZombiU and that is the online functionality within the single player mode. If you die in ZombiU your character becomes a zombie and you lose everything, pretty simple really. It’s brutal but effective, the trick here is you can go find your zombie self and kill him to get all your loot back. The reason that I like this feature so much is because one time I had a bogie in the safe house vicinity, so I just went out to kill it no big deal. When I saw the zombie however it had a players name above his head, it was only our Chief Editor Craig Shields and I have to say I had great satisfaction in killing him and taking all his supplies.
As you progress throughout the game you will explore different parts of London and ZombiU does pretty well at keeping this fresh for each new zone, whilst some repetitiveness creeps in towards the end there is plenty here to keep you on edge throughout your whole game. You can use the sewer system to fast travel to and from certain locations, once you find the manhole cover it is then accessible to you. Fortunately enough you don’t even really need to use the fast travel system if you don’t want to, after going back and forth a couple of times you become very familiar with the maps and you get to the point where even when you are running for your life you just know where you have to go.
The good thing is after you have cleared a zone it will stay that way – sort off. You’ll always get a couple of zombies here and there but for the most part you are free to explore, this doesn’t mean you should put your guard down because you never know what could be lurking around the corner. This also means you can go back and look for loot, ammo or medical supplies in the areas you have already cleared which is always a good thing to do because you will run out of supplies faster than you think.
There is one clear difference between ZombiU and any other zombie game and that is the the GamePad screen. Instead of just being a controller with some info on the screen, the GamePad shows your map, radar, backpack and all your game info. In order to reveal the layout of the zone that you are in you have to hack the CCTV equipment so the map will show. When you are just walking around normally you can see the map (if you have unlocked it) and you have 6 inventory slots that you can easily switch between without having to open your back pack, once you play with the gamepad for a while it becomes very natural to use.
The idea behind the use of the GamePad isn’t to just add an additional element to your experience, but because you are forced to look at the gamepad in certain situations you quickly learn that if you don’t concentrate you will die. You could be taping a code for a door on the GamePad, meanwhile on the TV screen zombies could be edging their way close to you and if you aren’t paying attention they will get you before you even have a chance to react.
Another major feature of the GamePad is the scanner, players can hold down the left bumper to activate the scanner, you have to look at the GamePad screen and move it around depending where you want to look on the TV screen. You can highlight certain objects and zombies which allows you to see their movements on the GamePad map. This is one of the most helpful things in ZombiU, it allows you to track zombies, see what loot they have and to see what items are around the zone so you don’t miss a thing. Just make sure you keep one eye out otherwise you might get caught with your pants down.
Seeing as survival is the name of the game with ZombiU the weapons that you collect along the way are going to determine if you live or die. It is possible to run away from zombies and escape sticky situations but in order to progress and truly survive then you are going to have to kill them. The one weapon that you will use more than anything is that bloody cricket bat, this is the only melee weapon that you will collect throughout your entire playthrough. I don’t really know why they would limit you like this, you can even pick up a hammer at one point but you aren’t able to use it as a weapon and that just seems ridiculous to me.
Whilst you might think that just using a pistol the whole time is the way to go, you are forced to choose your weapons and bullets wisely. Ammo and supplies are limited, if you go around just shooting everything you will find you have no way of getting out of sticky situations that you will find yourself in. You can pick up grenades, molotov cocktails and land mines to name just a few which are all brilliant for crowd control. There are over 10 weapons to choose from ranging from pistols all the way to sniper rifles, you have to pick and choose what you carry because backpack space is vital but you are able to leave stuff in the safe house.
Alongside the campaign you also have survivor mode where you have to stay alive for as long as possible, once you die that’s it, game over.
ZombiU also has an excellent multiplayer offereing a couple of different game modes, one player will use the Pro Controller to control the survivor, whilst the other player uses the GamePad as the zombie king. Between a capture the flag mode where both the survivor and the zombie king battle to capture flags and another mode where the survivor has to stay alive for as long as possible whilst the zombie king must lose as little zombies as possible.
What makes this so enjoyable is how fluid it all feels, the zombie king on the GamePad has full vision of the map and can drop zombies where they please. The zombie king can even level up to unlock different zombies that offer different abilities, there are also damage upgrade and capacity upgrades.
The survivor controls just like any first person shooter, you can chose different weapon sets on capture the flag with ammo around the map, then on survival you can pick up different weapons, the survivor also has benefits like turrets and mines which can help keep them alive. The thing that shocked me most about multiplayer was how good it looks on the GamePad, you can see even little animation from helmets being popped off to exploding grenades. ZombiU multiplayer is a reason to own this game, it is exciting and thrilling just like the single player although this time you are going up against a friend.
ZombiU offers a great experience overall, with some very surprising moments that will stick with you for the next few nights to say the least. It is great to learn how to tackle the different types of zombies effectively and when you get your character on a roll you can level up weapons and become a zombie hunting machine.With the brilliant multiplayer there is no reason you shouldn’t give this game a go. ZombiU is a must have if you recently purchased a Wii U and it’s a great front liner for the new console.