Everyone is waiting for the Wii U and even more people are waiting to get their hands on the new zombie apocalypse release title ZombiU. While at Eurogamer Expo 2012 we managed to get a chance to play the game.
First impressions of the game is that it is like every other zombie title out there. Your a lone survivor in a zombie apocalypse and you have to above all else do what ever it takes to survive. When you start the game you wake up and are told the name of your character, his or hers age and what their pre-apocalypse profession was. This must be for the player to have some sort of connection with the character and to also make them think "hmm, I wonder how well a real 24 year old hair dresser would do in a zombie attack" or its to normalise the character and make the player connect more to them.
After this you are sent on your merry way. The parts of the game which are meant to make it different from other zombie games are not just the mechanics but also the once your dead your dead scenario, if your newly bonded with character dies, they really do die and its game over. When its game over you then wake up again but this time as a completely new person, new age and new profession. Once your on your way again you might even get a chance to have a go at some of the interesting mechanics that tie in with the Wii U's Game Pad.
The first one you normally use the Game Pad for is the main interface screen which shows your weapons, radar, inventory tab and other zombie survival essentials. Its a good idea but you do at first find yourself hardly looking at this screen because your too busy trying to not get eaten. The more times you die however, the better you get at multitasking and in this game multitasking is a matter of life and death.
Another mechanic you will find yourself using a lot is being able to scan your environment to look and see if dead bodies or crates are hiding ammo,other useful items and points of interest. All you do is press a button and hold the Game Pad up to the screen and literally see right through crates and get other information from bodies, this does make looting process quicker and safer as you can use it to check them before you actually go up to them. You can also use this feature to look through walls and tag zombies, this does mean you can see them on the main screen tagged by red triangle indicator above their head. This is quite useful if you have a zombie you believe is going to hide or be a problem once you actually get to them. It's also a kind of crowd control feature as you know how many zombies will be in a specific area at that given time.
The best part about being able to scan your environment though is it using augmented reality, once in the scan mode you literally have to do 360's in real space to be able to scan the entire area that your in.
The most interesting feature that we tried out would be the sniping. When you have any long range weapon with a scope your are able to zoom in with, the game pretty much tells you its time to use the Game Pad. You move the Game Pad up to the screen and the smaller screen turns into a sniper scope, instead of using the analog sticks you use the whole motion of the pad. Moving the pad around the area of the screen moves it in sync with the scope on the pad. This feature is really nice and makes sniping in the game a lot smoother and simpler than using the analog sticks.If you're a player that is used to using the analog stick on gun control and sniping then this make take some time getting used to, but if your a Wii expert at gunning down foes then you will pick this up pretty quick. Above all else it is a fun mechanic and useful.
The game can be quite tense at times, like when you find your self looking in your bag on the Game Pad, on the main screen at the same time you see your character looking in his bag, all your waiting for is the zombies around the corner to hear you and come eat you while your trying to change weapons or heal yourself.
The other augmented reality features such as scanning and unlocking coded doors all add the the immersion and do it quite nicely. Sound in the game is done pretty well making all those eerie creeks and moans draw closer as you feel your death creeping up on you.
The disappointing bit of the game was the death mechanic, even though once your character dies they are actually dead, you just re-spawn into a brand new body. The penalties are that you lose anything your character has on him or her at the time of death and you go back to the start of the stage as a new person. If you do manage to find your corpse, it has probably been reanimated into a zombie and you can kill it to gain all your items back, this is cool but it just makes it seem pointless and does'nt really add to the whole permanent death idea. All it does is add a different kind of check point feature to the game but we can't hate it completely as it is an innovate way of doing so. It does kind of make you fearful of death and value the life of your terrified alter ego, unless of course you like sending your character into the horde to die or just fancy a job and age change.
Overall the game stands up pretty well to other zombie games to which there have been a lot of them in the recent years. Take away the Wii U controller and it would probably still be a pretty cool game but its the Game Pad mechaincs what stands it above the rest.
Should you buy it? Yes, because you will enjoy playing it and using the different Wii U features. As for the re-playability you may get sick of dying all the time, reincarnating and having to trek all the way back to your old self, kill them and loot their corpse just to start from where you left off but at least it gives you something to value, your life in an apocalypse. The game is tough and very unforgiving but the more you die and keep at it the more you feel accomplished the further in you get.
Check out the video of one of the guys playing ZombiU at Eurogamer Expo 2012 and see what you think.
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