Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Aside from its unfortunate name, ZombiU is a stunner and one of the coolest games available for the Wii U’s launch. Taking place in a London overrun by the undead, ZombiU is a tough-as-nails first-person survival-horror romp sharing more in common with last year’s hardcore-RPG Dark Souls than anything featuring zombies of late. Each time you play, you only have one life as a random survivor. Not planning your escapes or trying to face down three zombies in a small corridor at once is fatal and you’ll lose all the gear you’ve collected up to that point. Your corpse becomes part of the horde and if you value everything you’ve collected – handguns, precious ammunition, health packs — finding and defeating your old self as a new survivor is the only way to get it back.
Success isn’t guaranteed, though, and that’s what’s so tense and exciting about ZombiU. It may have taken you an hour to reach the grocery store to activate the security cameras, but rushing your exit back to the safe-house can make that hour disappear in seconds. Guiding your movements and giving tips is a voyeuristic survivor who’s motive is to help you survive. I couldn’t trust his disembodied voice completely because it sounded eerily similar to Atlas from BioShock and we all know how that turned out.
It may not look as impressive as Halo 4, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. All inventory management takes place on the GamePad screen, giving a completely HUD-free experience to what’s happening on your TV. There’s times where you’ll have to use the GamePad to scan the environment for items and tap the screen to pry off barricades. These interfaces are well-implemented and never feel like cheap gimmicks. The map also resides on the GamePad screen; checking for enemies, requires a tap on the motion detector. Each time I did so, I held my breath hoping there wouldn’t be any blighters pinging back on the radar. The scares and tension in ZombiU aren’t brought out by cheap parlor tricks, they’re built by the gameplay and atmosphere.
This is the Wii U at its current best.