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ZombiU Review

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting ZombiU to amount to much. When I first saw the trailer for it, I thought it looked nice, but that it also looked like it was trying too hard to come off as a “killer app” for the Wii U that utilized all of its features at the cost of gameplay. Once again, I found myself eating my words. I had no idea that I’d be getting the Wii U’s answer to Demon Souls.

First and foremost, ZombiU is a slow-paced, unforgiving game. If you can’t stand the pacing and punishing gameplay of Demon Souls, then you will likely have less than an enjoyable experience with ZombiU. But even then, it’s truly a game you have to experience if you have a Wii U. Not only is it the best Wii U launch title, it’s also one of the best new IPs to come out this generation.

ZombiU Gameplay

ZombiU (Wii U)
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release: November 18, 2012
MSRP: $59.99 [Buy Now]

I know what you’re thinking. “New IP? It’s a zombie game!” This is true, but unlike most other entries in the oversaturated genre, ZombiU manages to instill fear into the heart of the player. The constant feeling of vulnerability is the scarcest feeling of all. Regardless of how many weapons you have or how well fortified you think that room is, you’re just a simple man (or woman) faced with impossible odds. That’s exactly what a zombie game should be about. Oh, and you only have one life. Mortality is a bitch.

Well, you don’t have to start the game over from the beginning when you die; you respawn at your safe house as a different person. Sometimes you’re a doctor, other times a sassy-looking lawyer with a tight ass. They are voiceless husks of humans and all you know about them is their name, gender and what they look like. The corpse of your previous incarnation will be reanimated as the living dead, so if you want all the items your character was carrying, you’re going to have to find your corpse, kill it and reclaim your goods. Of course, depending on how you died this could be a little harder than it seems, especially if you were mauled to death by a horde of zombies.

Unlike other zombie games like Left 4 Dead, spraying bullets in their direction or serving a quick wallop to the head cannot take down these zombies. Zombies in ZombiU take a few good thuds to the head before they go down. Even then, you have to preform a finishing move of sorts that leaves you vulnerable for attack. There is gunplay and it controls as well as it should for a game like this, providing the perfect level of humility to each bullet fired. Gunfire has the chance to miss and alert other zombies, making the cricket bat the ideal weapon for the duration of the game.

ZombiU Gameplay

The Wii U GamePad is used as both your backpack and a camera. The constant swapping between TV and Wii U GamePad is headache inducing and some of the touch controls feel haggard at best. In theory, the process of looking down into  your backpack on-screen while you’re doing the same in real life with the Wii U GamePad should be a cute maneuver, but ZombiU presents it in such a cumbersome manner, you’re left wishing you had the option to play on a less gimmicky console.

Unfortunately, the trouble doesn’t stop there. There are a slew of technical burdens that pull you out of the experience on a frequent basis. I’ve seen zombies get stuck in doors, allowing me to whack them without fret and even invisible zombies that managed to kill me through walls.

The story won’t win any awards, as it’s a generic zombie story about zombies doing zombie things, but at least the setting feels much more unique than previous zombie games. ZombiU takes placed in the United Kingdom in 2012, allowing players to see the world of tea and crumpets as never before. No offense to our lovely UK readers and contributors, but the place is a dreary mess, supplying the perfect atmosphere for a game like ZombiU.

ZombiU Gameplay

While Nintendo sticks to what they know and indie developers churn out pretentious shit, Ubisoft took a chance with ZombiU – a chance that put the horror back into the horror genre. ZombiU isn’t the best game in the world, but it is just what the gaming industry needed, a horror game that brought the genre back to its roots. Even if you’re suffering from “zombie fatigue,” ZombiU is the go-to Wii U launch title everyone needs to experience.

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Like any good gentleman of the evening, Dustin has been around the Internet more than a few times. He's co-founder of Geekenstein Media, a regular co-host on the Nuts and Bolts podcast and co-stars in the Broke and Bored video series. He does a lot of co-things.