The Nintendo WiiU launched on Sunday, November 18th, opening the era of the eighth generation of console gaming. With stores rapidly selling through the console, anxious gamers have been waiting to see what Nintendo's new system is capable of. With an innovative touch screen game pad embedded right into the controller, one title at launch serves to show you all the capabilities of this screen, while providing you a comprehensive gaming experience.
ZombiU is the first exclusive title Ubisoft has published for the WiiU, looking to appeal to Survival Horror and Undead enthusiasts. Inspired by the zombie gaming idealogies titles like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Telltale's recent Walking Dead series, ZombiU is a frightening, yet fun trip through the world ravaged by Zombies. Of all the launch titles, ZombiU may also be the best measuring stick for what the touchscreen gamepad is capable of as well.
The title puts you into a "Survival of the Fittest" scenario in present day London, taking the reins of survivors of a story loosely inspired by the works of 16th century astronomer John Dee. You are left to survive this version of the Zombie apocalypse by any means necessary, and to collect goods and serums to aid the survival of others. In following with usual zombie storyline "rules," a single bite turns you into an undead, and essentially kills your character.
Along the way, your Wii U gamepad is your swiss army knife of sorts. The pad has a map permanently displayed on-screen during regular gameplay, however, adapts to the type of weaponry, or scenario you're facing. For example, it provides a scope for when you've equipped a Sniper Rifle. The TV screen displays the game from a cameraman's perspective, while the Gamepad shows your view through a rifle scope. It also plays the role as a fully aimable Machine Gun Turret. Again, the TV screen shows you the view from a cameraman's perspective while the Gamepad shows you the first person's turret shot itself. Should any puzzles come about in-game, there is adaptation with the gamepad in addition. You will receive visual cues on-screen every time you are expected to make use of the gamepad, so you don't have to worry much about twitch reactions on that end.
Similar to Black Ops 2, the death of your character in game results in Permanent Death. However, everything your character has accumulated is not lost. You will begin anew as a different survivor, and have the option of finding, killing and looting your previous character's corpse.
If you begin to crave some multiplayer, ZombiU has some of the best options available for the WiiU right now. In "Survivors vs. Zombie King" mode, split screen gaming makes an appearance, where one gamer using the touchscreen controls plays the role of the Zombies, searching for the human, using the TV and controlled with the regular Gamepad Pro Controller. Nintendo has piloted this sort of gaming in the past, going back to the Gamecube's Game Boy Advance linkups; however, has a better platform on which to execute it now. While there is no actual co-op mode, you are still playing constantly online with fellow survivors on your friends list, who have the possibility of mercy killing you if infected after being alerted, and then looting your corpse of its worldly goods. Survival of the Fittest remember? If you’re someone used to playing offline, or won’t have to worry about your friends finding your corpse, at least you will have the chance to loot yourself.
Graphically, the game is on par with other games of the genre. It’s no better or no worse than many zombie titles. Bear in mind that this is a launch title, and like previous launch titles, developers don’t quite have the tools necessary to maximize the system’s potential, so while it is graphically comparable to current 360 and PS3 titles, it isn’t over and above by any means. Still, the graphics are much darker and deeper than previous Wii titles, giving you the gruesome and grim London skyline in full HD. ZombiU is also a great way for Nintendo to show the WiiU’s all ages and audiences nature of its system, and to work past the notion among console owners that it will end up another family-oriented showpiece; though you can be assured there will be plenty of those types of games too.
Ubisoft has done well to build the atmosphere through the use of sound. ZombiU’s use of sound attempts to captivate you and draw you into second guessing yourself at all times. One of the key elements of a decent serious survival horror game is not only this, but keeping its gameplay so that it isn’t one big “cheap scare” title, and does not become a mockery of itself. While some titles of the genre (like Resident Evil and Dead Rising) thrive on that sort of gameplay, ZombiU remains faithful to the idea of old style traditional “dumb zombie” flicks, with a 21st century twist on weaponry and storyline. With the popularity of zombies and undead characters, expect this one to be the first of many similar titles in the next generation of console gaming.
ZombiU is available at your local Best Buy, and online at BestBuy.ca and is rated M for Graphic Violence, Gore and Mature situations.