12 Days of Wii U: Can U survive ZombiU?
The rise of The Walking Dead in all its incarnations has given zombie love a meteoric boost. ZombiU was supposed to offer a hardcore ‘Zompoc’ experience never seen before. Suiting up I entered London with only a cricket bat and six bullets. Will I make it back alive and intact?
As a fan of the horror genre, my love for zombie based anything has been diminishing ever since its rise into pop culture. The memories of myself and a few select friends sitting around enjoying terrible acting and awesome special effects has been drowned under a sea of iPhone games and unnecessary fan films. For this reason alone I was cautious when ZombiU was announced. The concept alone grabbed my attention and everything I read about it began to get me really excited.
ZombiU puts you in the shoes of a zombie apocalypse survivor found by a strange and illusive ex-military chap calling himself ‘The Prepper’. After saving your life he immediately sets you to work on mundane tasks as he ridicules you for not working fast enough. Your character is treated in the stock standard survival horror way with little to no supplies, a shoddy melee weapon and guns that never seem to have any ammunition.
rawDLC regulars will know that I am a huge fan of hard games, but this is just sadistic. Not only is everything scarce forcing you to scavenge every trash can, drawer, desk and box you find just to survive, but your weapons are an absolute joke. It takes up to four headshots to kill a zombie and your melee weapon, a pitiful cricket bat, has a dangerously short range and does even less damage. If you miss even a single hit a zombie can push you to the ground and kill you instantly.
This kind of gameplay doesn’t interest me at all. At no point while wildly swinging my bat did I feel like skill was a factor. The game strives to create a realistic environment but due to the nature of the average control system it comes off more frustrating than fun. Your survival should be ensured by clever decisions and resource management, but ZombiU has you fighting almost everything that moves and never really offers you any deeper sense of accomplishment.
The game has two modes both equally disappointing, the standard story mode and a survival mode. In the story mode if you die you respawn back at The Prepper’s pad as a new character. This destroys any immersion as you lose your entire stockpiled inventory and having to trudge back to your now undead former self just to get your gear back. The other mode is survival where you are given a single life and must delete your save game to start again if you die to start again. Multiplayer is a momentarily fun distraction but as it really only offers local play the fun lasts a few rounds before you quickly get bored of this too.
ZombiU is a great concept. Apocalyptic survival is a tense and interesting subject to play with. Unfortunately it all falls apart due to sub-standard controls and a less than immersive world. It is trying to emulate Dark Souls but the overall routine is terribly mind numbing rather than challenging and feels rushed. A few more months of polish and who knows? It could have been the benchmark title of the Wii U’s launch. However, the game breaking glitches and nauseating repetition fails to grab the attention of even the most die-hard horror fans.