January 28, 2013
The single player for ZombiU has you playing as a random survival in London, England. The main plot of ZombiU tries to give you just enough reason to survive against hordes of the undead. To that end, you're drip-fed just enough story elements for you to soak it all in. In this flooded market, Ubisoft decided that the best way to tell the story would be to have it buried under gameplay and it works.
Your survivor is nothing more than a soulless vessel for you to bash heads with, but this is by no way a negative. The main reason for this is due to the fact that once you die that, character is gone for good and will become a new flesh eater. As you traverse the dark zombie filled city, you will be following instructions from a stranger who is trying to help you escape. On your journey you will go to a variety of places and slowly discover how the outbreak happened.
This is as much of the story as you really need to know going into the game and the real hook will be actually surviving. ZombiU on the surface looks like a traditional first person shooter zombie game, but actually has many deeper systems. Not only is every death permanent in the game, but when you die you have only one chance to kill your old character who is now a zombie, to get your items back from before.
ZombiU is not an easy game by any means and getting bitten or dying will make you turn into a zombie very easily. Not only will you have to face yourself as a zombie, any of your friends who are connected to you on Miiverse will also have to encounter your former survivor. Also in-case you get stuck or feel like helping out the community, you can leave hints around the world you're in. These are some of the best features the Wii U has to offer a unique experience.
You will also not be doing much shooting in this game as you start off. Instead, the focus is primarily on melee combat. This is where the game gets a bit more clunky. While there is nothing here that's bad, there's equally not that much that's good. The game just offers a very mediocre experience in terms of shooting, fighting, and exploring. The gamepad is more good enough to have a great shooter and it hints that the game was just rushed out the door.
Playing with the gamepad is also a key part of solving puzzles and managing your inventories. While you are forced to use this gimmick a lot, it never really helps the player get totally immersed in the situation. This is another case of an idea that never fleshes out the way you might hope it would. However, with so many original features for a zombie game, a sequel could build on a lot of this to create a much better, polished system.
Adding a bit more polish to ZombiU's visuals also seemed to not be that big of a concern as the game really looks like a launch game, but this launch would be the PS3 or 360 back in 2006. It goes for a more realistic look, but doesn't back it up with the processing powers necessary for the game to look like a showcase title. Still for what it does, it shouldn't offend, but at the same time will rarely impress you with what it has to show off.
After beating ZombiU for the first time you might be surprised how long it took you to beat the game. This is not due to a very long campaign, it only clocks in at about 8-10 hours to finish. Instead, this feeling comes from exploring each new area as your survivor and seeing how long you make it before yo have to start again as a new one. Replaying sections never feels boring, since you are still wanting to stay on your toes at all times in order to progress back to where all of your items belong.
Finishing the campaign is easier said than done, but once you're there a multiplayer mode is an appealing prospect. There is no online multiplayer here, it only can be played split screen. The modes offered really don't bring anything new to the table and if you aren't that desperate to need an excuse to turn on your Wii U, you won't miss much by passing on these modes. Still the addicting nature of replaying the campaign even after the first completion is enough to bring you back.
Even after the first few weeks of launch for the Nintendo Wii U, ZombiU is still easily the best game for someone wanting to try something totally unique. Now while the experience may not be the best controlling or looking, it is sure to leave some positive memories. Forget the familiar Mario games and ports from the best of fall 2011/20012; give this one of a kind launch game a chance and you will be surprised.