Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

ZombiU

Preview: ZombiU is a welcome return to survival horror

12:30 PM on 08.17.2012 // Steven Hansen
  @dtoidsteven

Horror games are rather scarce these days, particularly on consoles, which are devoid of creeptastic, pants-wetting indie jaunts like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Slender, or Lone Survivor. It doesn’t help that the heavyweights that exist close to horror seem to be pushing in a much less spooky direction. Dead Space 2’s tension seemed undercut in the second half, while the latest installment is adding potentially atmosphere-killing co-op and so far seems more about set pieces and gore. Resident Evil 6 looks like Capcom found a way to make Resident Evil 5 even worse; more messy and unfocused.

That being said, perhaps not all is lost. I tried my best to avoid the lengthy Wii U lines of E3, so last week was my first hands-on time with ZombiU. What I played was damn fine survival horror as reminiscent of Demon’s Souls as any zombie property you want to tie it to. I never had more than seven bullets at a time (Damn your strict gun control, UK!), ran away a lot, and died a lot. Encountering a mere three zombies at once wrecked my day.


ZombiU (Wii U)
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: TBD

ZombiU got a lot of hullabaloo during E3, mostly for being a first-person shooter, rated M, and on a Nintendo console all at the same time. Of course, there are too many games out there that let me wantonly shoot things, though the Wii U might be presently free of them; that’s why I was glad to find ZombiU is more than a twitch shooter zombie killfest.

You play as a survivor (duh); or, rather, as many as you need to. It’s laid out like a relay race. If you die or get bitten, you take on control of a new survivor from a checkpoint. That’s right. You get bit; you turn (unless you happen to be carrying a one-use hypodermic needle filled with some sort of brief “zombie-away”). You get grabbed, you get bit. There’s a novel enough concept.

Progress you’ve made carries over, though any inventory you’ve stockpiled will remain on the reanimated, shambling corpse of your previous surrogate, so you’ll want to go kill past incarnations of yourself to wash away the shame of failure and regain all that fat loot.

The lack of a centric protagonist manages to work within the confines of the story as it’s been revealed thus far. Aside from simply trying to survive as you scamper about London, you’re both trying to stop the infection and trying to extricate yourself from that horrible city. During my hands-on, I was helping a scientist working from the notes of the actually-once-existent historical figure John Dee (who in this fiction managed to predict a zombie apocalypse; good on him).

I even saw an in-game portrait of the bloke in a particularly posh mansion house I was scouring. Dee was into alchemy and is hypothesized to have been an inspiration for Prospero in Shakespeare’s brilliant The Tempest, which ups his hipness factor considerably (Prospero is super fly), so we might get some cool, silly occult juices wrung out of the plot yet.

The Wii U controller capabilities exercised by ZombiU are bound to strike some people as gimmickry. The biggest feature is a scanner operated by holding the scan button and then moving the controller around, looking at the environment on the small screen in a sort of detective mode. Doing so shows little glints of interest -- a box containing something, the pockets of a recently re-deaded undead, and so on -- which can be analyzed by scanning.

It’s a good way to keep you from having to shove your first-person perspective into every nook and cranny of levels to ensure you’re not missing important scavenge, and it also lends to tension in a questionable manner by leaving you vulnerable. In the scanner mode, the main display pulls out to third person, requiring you to pay attention to both your scanner for pillaging purposes and your screen for not-getting-eaten-by-zombies purposes. It does break immersion a bit, but it also brings tension.

Dealing with your inventory is equally dangerous. You have limited space in your backpack and each time you want to go in it, your survivor will take it off, put it on the floor and unzip it, at which point you can deal with your inventory on the Wii U controller’s touch screen (while, again, watching your crouched character’s surroundings in third person on your TV).

Looting things also requires you to drag things into your backpack using the touch screen, while you can drag weapons or health packs into tap-accessible quick select slots. While you’re running about per normal, the tiny screen acts as your map, marking both the location of zombies (save for certain ones that will crop up unexpectedly), as well as your past survivor, if applicable.

I felt the character movement was a smidge lethargic, which I’m sure can be addressed in settings; otherwise, the rest of the game plays just like your average first-person shooter does, though there’s also a useful shove mechanic for pushing zombies out of your grill. My main weapon of choice was a cricket bat (there are also Buckingham palace guard zombies, hah), which I bashed many a zombie skull in with. When I could find the ammo, I was happy to use a pistol, as well as an old-school, bolt-action rifle. Unless you’re shooting them at close range, most of the zombies seemed to take two shots to the head -- the first merely fractured their skulls, exposing and splattering brain matter -- so the aforementioned seven bullets I had didn’t last all that long.

I also came across a few surprising items that I didn’t get a chance to use, like a mine and a crossbow, which were inexplicably strewn about (though in small numbers; one mine and the crossbow was in a hidden passageway). I mostly didn’t get to use them because I got myself in terrible zombie situations, like having a spitter projectile vomiting at me while two more swarmed me. Yes, three zombies is a swarm in this game.

At one point, I was moving along at a steady clip when I look at my map, Aliens style, to find a group of three zombies crawling out from under a boarded up doorway I thought was secure. I tried to get in position to fight them, but I embarrassingly overthrew my Molotov cocktail and only managed to kill one with my pistol before another sunk his teeth into my nice, juicy neck meat.

I love the deliberate, survivalist pace of what I’ve played of ZombiU thus far. When my most productive survivor up to that point became zombie chow and the stat screen told me I had kept him alive for a mere ten minutes, I was surprised by how much longer it felt.

Fighting your way through zombies is not easy. You have to strategize, manage your resources and know when to book it so you don’t get overwhelmed. Good luck to all the loons who are going to try and go through the entire game with the same survivor; hat’s off to you.



Steven Hansen, Features Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure dtoidsteven Tips
Steven watches anime & sports, buys meat out of trucks, dates a Muppet, and is only good at cooking. He stands before you bereft of solace and well on the road to perdition. ('^ω^) more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
ZombiU


  Nov 21

ZombiU devs sneaking hidden messages into game

The writing's on the wall ... and floor


  Nov 18

Review: ZombiU

Survival horror is undead!


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Friday Night Fights: War Never Changes Edition

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Review (Vita)

Waifu Wars: Loyalty-Tier

The Wii U's fate is not (entirely) Nintendo's fault

Musings on Firewatch (Spoilers)

My Gaming Landscape [February 9th, 2016]

The sexiest Senran Kagura character has been found!!

Room to Share: Why More People Playing Games Is a Good Thing

OVERWATCH SONG - This World Needs Heroes

Cblogs of 2/8/2016 + Face Petting in FE is a TERRIBLE Mechanic

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Shinta avatarShinta
Daniel Bloodworth from GameTrailers posted a neat retrospective of his time at the website. http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=194778459&postcount=3290
Shane Botwin avatarShane Botwin
The internet is so good, gives people without any power in real life a sense of purpose. Such as the Dtoid mod arbitrarily deleting my comments because I dislike the shit they like. "This will show him who's boss here", lol, impotent nerd.
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
The new artificial Pokémon is my waifu
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Off to the new job shortly. Dunno if it's something I want long term, but I can't complain about the money. New laptop, phone, and consoles could be weeks away :D
JohnSmith123 avatarJohnSmith123
http://destructivecreations.pl/isdefense/ /Hatred devs really like the controversy I guess.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Is it too late to write about the waifu wars? I don't really have one but there is a female character I have in mind that I want to talk about.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Bayo has high execution barrier and largely unsafe moveset but Witch Time is a huge saving grace. I bet people are double bitter with Corrin being in the game and being pretty reliable in terms of skillset. Definitely a safer and stronger choice than Bayo
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Streaming some Unravel then perhaps some Firewatch. Don't not come. [url]http://twitch.tv/Jed05[/url]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Just got my Wind up Ifrit minion. I couldn't sell it, it was too adorable.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Just got my Wind up Ifrit minion. I couldn't sell it, it was too adorable.
Parismio avatarParismio
I was playing Third Strike on PS3 with my PS4 controller and I tried using the dpad for the first and noticed that it doesnt take corner directional inputs. Is this normal for ps4 controllers on ps3?
Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
I swear, it makes sense in context..... Kinda. Hmmm. Okay, not so much. [img]http://i.imgur.com/YhIzmYN.png[/img]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Almost done with my Waifu wars blog. pretty happy with how it turned out.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Time to scream and shout. It's Nanako cosplaying as her big bro! <3
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump is like Gandalf the White vs. Handsome Jack.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Skellige is so cool! It's like the land of Valhalla Rising.
Torchman avatarTorchman
http://gonintendo.com/stories/251840-fire-emblem-fates-petting-mini-game-is-in-game-but-only-availa I THOUGHT THIS WAS GONE. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MINDS PEOPLE
Shinta avatarShinta
God damn, Bernie Sanders is just killing it with this speech. Hitting basically every point. He even used the word "oligarchy." Probably the first time I've ever heard that word uttered on CNN. I think a lot of people in power are shitting their pants
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
In my haste to finally factory reset my tablet, I erased a blog I had worked on. Thankfully, it's fresh in my mind. It's another MGS blog, but it goes the opposite way of my last MGS blog. Pray this guy is not your husbando, for he is shit.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Just ate a disgusting amount of sugary wonders in a Fat Tuesday blowout. Chocolate (birthday) cake, Oreos, brownies, cookie dough, and some creme brule thing. Satiation by way of eat-'til-you-puke is what Shenanigans says!
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -