Zombi U Preview
Zombi U had the honour and the downfall of being my first Wii U experience. Ubisoft and Nintendo are pushing hard the “hardcore” nature of Zombi U. A kind of antidote to the washed out offerings to the mainstream on the Wii console over the past few years.
Much like Red Steel the premise of the game looks exciting and once again comes from Ubi soft, just like Red Steel. Unlike Red Steel though Zombi U is a reboot of Ubisoft’s very first commercial release, Zombi.
The game has you take control of a survivor of a zombie outbreak in London. As you struggle to make your way through day to day life you must avoid or swiftly despatched zombies that roam the streets, waterways and buildings of the nation’s capital.
Ok so not much back story being given away at this time, nor at the booth that day BUT what was given was a Wii U controller board and a clip full of ammo. I died within a few minutes… stupid ammo goes ina stupid pistol and pistols make noise when you fire them and don’t get a headshot.
So lesson learned I head back out from the central hub “safe room” like str ucture reminiscent of the Left4Dead safe houses. Down through the sewers this time I’m ready for what will happen as my flashlight barely manages to illuminate the dank cramped conditions. What strikes you is just how reasonable the graphics of the Wii U are. Not much else was really pushing the console on the display floor, but Zombi U was at least putting it through it’s paces for a first person action title.
As such it looked more than reasonable putting in a similar performance as titles like Condemned 2 on the 360 did a couple of years back. That’s not a slight on the game in any way. For the initial launch titles to be looking good is an achievement of its very own. The game did seem to have a very deliberately slow pace. Even clicking the left thump stick on the control board didn’t exactly inspire a blistering pace. This is likely by design, more than hardware limitations though, as you don’t really want to wade in to a room full of zombies.
So back to the sewers. I rounded back to the place I had died previously. Here I then stood back, pressed the cross-bow graphic on my touch pad and swapped to the weapon. Then, pressing in the left trigger, I took aim. Here the action moved to the Wii U controllers smaller screen. A zoomed scope view appears on the pad and you hold it up and move it around to line up the shot in the crosshairs on the screen. Then squeeze off the shot with the right trigger. A satisfying arrow to the head took my Zombie down silently and in one shot. I then started to approach the area only to realise another zombie was now in the same location – that zombie was the character I had just been playing that had died.
You see each time you die in t he game, that’s it. You character never returns. Instead they, unless blown up or something else drastic, return as a zombie roaming the area you died in. This, along with the zombie theme of course, is the only real obvious carry over from the original 1986 Zombi. So a frantic scramble for the cricket bat that I had as my melee weapon and I lay waste to my former self in a frantic battle to the death. Once the zombie formerly know as you is down and out you can loot the body and regain all your lost equipment. Similarly you can also loot fallen zombies too for ammo, medkits and other supplies.
Zombi U has some neat ideas and the setting is more than well portrayed. The overly slow pacing, uncomfortable controller (not Ubi’s fault of course) and the fiddly nature to lining up head shots all compounded though, over the fifteen to twenty minutes of play, to make the game a little frustrating to play for any length of time. Similarly when the zombies start in on you the controls go to hell and it becomes a button mashing frenzy. A lot of this is to do with my person belief that the XYAB buttons of the controller pad on the Wii U are located in the wrong place – this is no fault of the game but an impact on it none the less. Also, dragging items from the bodies to your backpack is a little time consuming and a “pickup all” button would be useful.
Zombi U is better than either Red Steel title ever was and will instil a sense of confidence for the more dedicated gamer – at least the snapshot I played leads me to believe that. It does have some problems, it also can be super frustrating but these things could all be worked out before launch next month. Not the system seller that Nintendo or Ubisoft might have been hoping for then… for that look to Ubisoft’s own R ayman Legends. The multiplayer elements sound interesting too bud were not on show at the event we attended.
Zombi U from Ubisoft releases 18th November in the US and 30th November in the EU to coincide with the Wii U Launch.