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Hands On: ZombiU

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The game I was most excited to get my hands on was Ubisoft's ZombiU, both to see how a third-party developer would use the Wii U GamePad, and also to see what it would be like to play a traditional first-person shooter with the controller. Turns out pretty well and just fine, respectively!

ZombiU takes place in a zombie-infested London, where you have to struggle to survive against the advancing hordes of undead. In the demo I played, I had to find some antibiotics inside of a day care or something like that. I rather enjoyed the crossbow, and using the GamePad to zoom in made headshots a breeze. I will admit it took me a little while to get used to the inventory system, and I kept pushing the wrong button to reload my gun (not sure what that mental block was all about), but in general, the controls were traditional FPS style and easy to pick up. Oh, the right thumbstick was a little hyper-sensitive, so for the first chunk of the demo, I kept overshooting my target with my gun/flashlight, but I eventually adjusted. In the final game, the sensitivity will be adjustable, I was told. The touch screen is used for inventory management as well as mini-games and gadgets. In the demo, I used a radar device to find out if there were any useful supplies in nearby areas, and also for a lockpicking mini-game.

The interesting bit came when I was overtaken by a particularly tenacious zombie and killed. I then woke up as a whole other character, a woman, who then had to take up the same mission and attempt to complete it. But any skills you've learned as you've leveled-up your character are lost, as they don't transfer over. You know what else doesn't transfer over? That inventory full of first aid, weapons and ammo! Using what little you've got, you must head to the same day care/nursery school, and find your former now-zombified character and put him out of his misery in order to retrieve all those precious supplies. By this point, I'd gotten the hang of things, and handily took myself out, grabbed the bag, found the antibiotics and after locating a shotgun in the kitchen, blasted my way out of the building making sure no zombie's head was left attached.

It was an incredibly tense and visceral experience, because as you explore the levels, you have to look at both the TV and the GamePad screen. When looting supplies from crates or dead bodies, you have to use the touch screen to manage your inventory, all the while keeping one eye on the TV to make sure nothing's coming after you. (And when some mysterious interference turns your GamePad screen into a mess of static, see if you don't panic just a little bit!) Some of the demo level was creepy and silent with the occasional attack, while the escape was a nail-biting zombie-infested shoot-em-up. Graphics were good, although nothing more spectacular than what you'd see on a PS3 or Xbox 360 at this point. It was the unique gameplay and the integration of the GamePad into the action that made ZombiU stand out to me. This is definitely going to be a big seller, especially if it actually does come out on launch day with the Wii U, as I was told is apparently going to be the case!

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4 Comments

Aximill said:

Haven't heard about the premise of the POV transferring to a new person/body. Looking forward to getting the husband addicted to this game.

BrookeTF said:

Yeah I hadn't heard of it either. Was the moment you were killed scripted? I was going to pass over this game for the generic male protagonist and how crappy Red Steel was at the Wii's launch... But if you can have a female protagonist, I'm intrigued.

Wootini said:

No, I don't believe the death was scripted. I just screwed up and got eaten. The way the gameplay was described was that when you die, you switch to another human survivor and continue the game. Luckily, you have unlimited lives, so it's not like you'll run out of survivors and it's game over! Of course, there's no selecting who you'll wake up as, so you'll alternate between men and women throughout. Unless, I suppose, you manage to survive completely through the game!

BrookeTF said:

Or I could keep getting eaten until I got another woman. =P I wonder how much voice acting went in to this.

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BrookeTF on Hands On: ZombiU: Or I could keep getting eaten until I got another woman. =P I wonder how much voice acting went in...

Wootini on Hands On: ZombiU: No, I don't believe the death was scripted. I just screwed up and got eaten. The way the gameplay was...

BrookeTF on Hands On: ZombiU: Yeah I hadn't heard of it either. Was the moment you were killed scripted? I was going to pass over...

Aximill on Hands On: ZombiU: Haven't heard about the premise of the POV transferring to a new person/body. Looking forward to getting the husband addicted...

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