ZombiU preview

By Ozzie Mejia, Jun 06, 2012 11:20am PDT

QUICKTAKE: Ubisoft looks to their roots and revives the long-forgotten Zombi for one of their major contributions to the Wii U. ZombiU makes full use of the Wii U GamePad, showing off some impressive ideas. In many ways, ZombiU feels like just another run-of-the-mill FPS zombie game, but the GamePad mechanics add just enough variance to make the game feel interesting.

THE DEMO: With ZombiU taking place in a zombie-infested London, it's only natural that the demo would take me to the outskirts of Buckingham Palace. I'm given the objective to find a vial of medicine, contending with zombies (both hidden and out in the open) along the way. After infiltrating the nearby nursery and collecting the medicine, I escaped the crumbling building to safety to fight zombies another day.

DETAILS: I've played many zombie games over the years, so I looked for something in ZombiU to set it apart from its many predecessors. In terms of plot, I found nothing. A zombie outbreak has occurred and the idea is to survive while completing objectives and killing off members of the undead. As I ventured forth through London, I had a sense of déjà vu.

However, zombies in ZombiU are far deadlier than the average walker. I was surprised to learn that a single bite would infect me and end my game as quickly as it began. It's definitely a change from the norm and I learned I needed to be much more careful to survive. On top of that, supplies are very limited, so I would have to use ammo sparingly and rely more on melee weapons, like a cricket bat I found early on.

ZombiU certainly offers the tense atmosphere expected of a zombie game. After gathering the medicine I was asked to retrieve, the nursery began to fall apart. As I walked out, I was knocked down by falling debris, which sent my flashlight on the fritz. As the flashlight flickered, zombies would jump out of nowhere and attack. One of the zombies was a noticeably intelligent undead woman, favoring the darkness so I couldn't see her attack coming.

While this may sound like an average zombie game, I'm genuinely impressed by how much use it got out of the Wii U GamePad--a Swiss army knife's worth of functions. After offing a zombie, I held the GamePad to the screen to scan the corpse for items. While I occasionally got loot, other times I found out the zombie wasn’t fully dead as it suddenly lunged for my neck. When the lights went out, I waved the GamePad around and used it as a flashlight. The crossbow had to be aimed with the GamePad by holding it against the TV screen. Locks needed to be picked with the touch screen. And perhaps most importantly, the GamePad served as my inventory, functioning like a makeshift backpack.

ZombiU is a game to keep an eye on, but don't expect it to go easy on you. I died numerous times during the demo, never lasting more than a few minutes. This game is challenging and that challenge increases as your dead characters are soon added to the zombie ranks. Explore the infested London streets when ZombiU hits the Wii U this holiday season.

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