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ZombiU Review - WiiU
A Zombie-based survival game on the Wii U, the aptly titled "ZombiU" makes interesting use of new technology to deliver some unique gameplay.
ZombiU's premise is simple: you are a survivor of a British zombie apocalypse. Shortly after the game starts you find yourself being guided by a voice on a radio. This voice provides relatively linear missions to accomplish and move the plot along, since merely "surviving" would simply require boarding up in the safe house.
ZombiU has one hard rule: if you get bitten, you die. End of sentence. Your character has a very short "health bar" to reflect swipes and grabs, but a full-on bite is the death of your character. Rather than "restarting", you're assigned a new survivor, who starts at a safe point and has to press on (stopping at some point to recover the gear of the now-zombified former protagonist). This low-health system provides the entire basis for the game's surprising amount of tension. Every nook and cranny, every shadow, could be hiding a zombie or worse. Combat is fast and frantic as you attempt to maintain control of crowds of zombies while dealing with limited ammunition and items. Bashing desperately at a zombie's skull while another creeps up on your right is the kind of scenario that's breezed past in many zombie games, but in ZombiU it's realistically lethal.
The game's inventory system is designed to support this sense of paranoia. The Wii U pad is used to access your inventory, with six quick-select slots and ten slots in your backpack. The quick-select slots can be tapped without even looking down in most cases, but the backpack has to be unlimbered, which quite notably forces you to look away from the TV. This is reflected in the fact that your character in the game drops and looks in their bag on the screen when you do. It's surprisingly immersive, definitely more so than just pausing the game and grabbing whatever you need.
To balance this all out, you also have a sort of sonar-ping to detect zombies in your vicinity. You can also hack cameras to provide map layouts for each area (which will also show up on your Wii U pad). But the game definitely creates a sense of constant fear & dread that every mechanic & new innovation works towards. The only complaint I had about the game was that death after a while becomes an annoyance rather than a true "fear" - since it means you just have to work your way back to where you were - but it's still a better job of trying to evoke a consistent tone than many games. The story is also sort of lackluster, providing very little motivation for venturing out into the dangerous world over and over. Despite these quibbles, ZombiU is an admirable use of new technology as a core gameplay component and not just a weird gimmick.
I purchased this game with my own funds in order to do this review.
Buy ZombiU from Amazon.com
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