ZombiU, for the Wii U, is a revival of one of Ubisoft’s first games: Zombi for the Commodore 64 (and other platforms). As a launch title it hoped to set itself apart from the rest of the family-friendly games by being one of the only mature-rated titles on the console thusfar. Whenever a title is touted as “being opposite” to the rest of the library, I get a little skeptical: might it be a quick cash-in? In the case of ZombiU, Ubisoft has developed a game that is simple and gets the job done. It’s the perfect launch title for the WiiU to show the core audience that things are going to be different on the WiiU compared to the Wii.
Graphically, the game is quite impressive, supporting full HD graphics (which is totally new to a Nintendo console). The visuals appear close to -if not on-par with- the graphical benchmark set by the other systems, even down to the muted colour palette. Jorge will tell you that I’m probably colour-blind because I think all games are bland-looking, but I’m not being hyperbolic here. Even looking at a screenshot, one can see that the colour palette in ZombiU consists of black, grey, blue, and a little red. I’m not sure why realistic means dull, but with this console generation that’s what’s up, so we deal I guess.
On the plus side, the game creates a wonderful atmosphere of terror throughout the experience. It uses narrow environments, sounds, and tricks with light to create very tense moments in the game (that had me genuinely on the edge of my seat). Also, the fact that you are given very little ammo is another tension-building aspect. You must conserve your ammo, lest you run out at an awkward moment. Additionally, a lot of the tension comes the fear of dying, because every time you die you restart as a completely new survivor with nothing to your name.
This character-switching mechanic is the biggest defining feature of ZombiU. I really like the concept because it drives home the fact that your character is not really that special in the game, and they can die at any moment. In terms of playing other games, I was always felt somewhat removed from the experience when my characters died and just restarted at a checkpoint after; I felt as though I cheated the legacy of my character. Could you imagine if Commander Sheppard wasn’t a special war hero that lived through everything? The game would be much more realistic and would actually draw me in more. ZombiU achieves this with its ever-changing cast of characters; and even going back and seeing your past self as a zombie is a pretty awesome -if not damned freaky- to see. Then, once you get over the moment, you beat them with a cricket bat and steal all your stuff back. Reverie is overrated.
I have to hand it to Ricky. The colours are pretty muted. All the more scary!
My favourite part of the game is definitely the multi-player mode – this mode is literally the best thing in a game that is already pretty great. I don’t know why it wasn’t advertised more in the marketing blitz. Basically, one player has the Game-Pad and one has a Wii-mote and Nunchuck. The player with the Game-Pad is the Zombie King and can send out different zombies around the map by clicking on the map; they win if the other player loses all of their lives. The player with the Wii-mote has to capture all of the bases around the map to win. I love this mode because it plays perfectly to the WiiU’s strengths and justifies the console’s existence. It’s fun, strategic, and hilarious to play with friends. If Ubisoft released this mode on it’s own with extra content I would buy it without question. My hat goes off to the development team for making a really solid standout WiiU exclusive mode.
ZombiU by Ubisoft is atmospheric, scary, and easy to play. The multi-player mode plays to the WiiU’s strengths and makes for an incredibly fun time. For a launch title, I feel that Ubisoft has knocked it out of the park. If this is is an example of what’s to come, then I’m excited to see what the future holds for the system. I hope we see more soon, because the WiiU is severely lacking in great titles right now. Pick up ZombiU if you’re interested in the direction of mature titles on the WiiU. It’s a great game!