Tuesday, November 27, 2012

ZombiU Review

For almost a decade, the survival horror genre has been missing in action ever since the PS3 and Xbox 360 were released. From the release of both consoles, we rarely saw a true survival horror game experience. The release of the latest Resident Evil game gave nothing but disappointment to fans of the genre thanks to its shift in gameplay. Hoping to re-introduce the survival horror genre, Ubisoft has released ZombU exclusively on the Nintendo Wii U.
Incorporating the zombie apocalypse theme and some sort of a unique feature with the Game Pad, does ZombiU has what it takes to revive the survival-horror genre? Let’s take a look on what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of the game.


Scary Atmosphere
One of the things that a survival horror game needs is an atmosphere where gamers can feel the tension and fear and with ZombiU. Ubisoft hit the right spot with ZombiU. Throughout the game, players will be going through dark corners of London where they will have to rely on only a flashlight and a bat as a weapon. At every place you get into, you will immediately feel the atmosphere that the game tries to convey to its players – there will be no music or background noise that you will hear. Whenever a zombie is near you, upbeat music will commence giving players the pressure to find where the zombies are and hope they will survive. Most of the time, Zombies will come in flocks and sometimes, the best way to survive is to run away and find the safest spot. From the beginning to the end, expect to feel the tension and fear throughout.
Challenging as Demon’s Souls
Unlike other survival horror games where the gameplay can be finished very easily, ZombiU offers incredibly challenging gameplay. For those who have played Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls where death is a common thing, ZombiU will give you just about that except it’s in first person view. Throughout the game, expect to die a lot as the game is really challenging where zombies can easily surround your character in an instant. What happens when you die? Well you go switch to another character and then you can continue where you left off. Though, when you die and switch to another character, you will lose all equipment and items you obtained. The only way to get the items back is to find the player that just died and retrieve the back pack – this is very similar as to how Demon’s/Dark Souls works.
There are weapons such as pistols and assault rifle available but the scarcity of the ammo will be there. For the most part, you will be relying on the bat and yes, it will be tough to take zombies down especially when there’s a lot coming your way. A good strategy on how to escape or kill the zombies is a must in order to survive this very challenging game.
Great Use of the Game Pad
Out of all the Wii U launch titles, the ZombiU is the only game that fully best utilize the Game Pad. Instead of bringing up the inventory screen to choose weapons or check the inventory, you will simply have to look down on the Game Pad to see it. With the touch function, you can easily access your items through it. Also, another cool feature of the Game Pad within ZombiU is the way you search items. Using the gyro sensor of the game, you can pretend that you are in the game searching for items – giving innovation to play the game. As for the sounds, you will be hearing certain sounds coming from the Game Pad, aside from the ones on the TV.
An Upgrade of Visuals
ZombiU isn’t the best way to showcase what the Wii U can do but it certainly is an example on how far the visuals from the Wii have gone. The environments look detailed enough to make it look high definition, but it will not be the best you will ever see. Zombies within the game can look monotonous but I commend the overall design of the game as it successfully conveys a true survival horror feel to it.


Cricket Bat is Annoying
What ZombiU lacks is the variety of weapons that you can use for melee. While there are pistols, and assault rifles available in the game, you will be relying on the Cricket Bat more often since ammunition is scarce. The way the cricket bat does the damage to the zombies is inconsistent, sometimes it may feel powerful but sometimes it will take several hits. It will be a lot better if there are some sort of other weapons that you can use. A good example of a good melee combat in survival horror games are the ones found in Condemned.
Melee Execution is Weak
One of the problems that I found within ZombiU that hurts the game is the way the melee combat is executed. Since what you will be doing is mostly killing zombies with the cricket bat, you will notice how lame the movements your character makes. For the most part, it looks very stiff and very robotic whenever you do a melee attack. Also, the way the character strikes the bat to the enemy feels very repetitive too.
Story is not polished
If you are after a good story in ZombiU, don’t expect a very clear and concise plot. When you play the game for the very first time, you are introduced to this one character where it will have a background and objective. Since death is something you should expect, as soon as the first character you’re using dies, another character will spawn on the safe house and from there you will have no idea who the character is. The main story plot of the game is for you to help whichever character you’re controlling to escape London. A help option via the intercom will guide your way, giving you hints on where to go and what to do to advance – that’s pretty much the entire plot. While the cause of the outbreak will be mentioned, don’t expect the game to fully explain it to give you a better understanding on what’s going on.


For anyone who purchased a Nintendo Wii U and seeking for a real survival horror game, ZombiU is the game that might give you the horror experience you are longing to play. If only Ubisoft fixed some of the game’s major problems like the weak melee execution and subpar storyline, ZombiU can very well be the game that will claim the throne as the best survival-horror game. For now, I must commend Ubisoft for trying and implementing a true survival horror game with a mix of Demon’s/Dark Souls challenge that gives players a very challenging journey ahead in London. Let’s hope with ZombiU 2, the minor problems found will be fixed.


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