E3 2012: ZombiU: Just Another Putrid Face In The Horde?
by Nicholas Laborde
©2012 Nicholas Laborde
Watch Dogs was the only game really being talked about throughout the show.
While Ubisoft’s major thunder was focused on Splinter Cell: Blacklist and their amazingly annoying Just Dance 4 (the entire convention center knew who had the moves like Jagger), one little Ubisoft title on the Wii U managed to gain a little buzz.
At the very end of our appointment with Ubisoft, OXCGN got hands-on with ZombiU to see what all the fuss was about.
Zombies, you say?
Players don the role of a silent survivor as they make their way initially toward, as our demo showed, Buckingham palace, since it will have a stockpile of supplies and riches (it IS a palace after all).
That’s about all that ZombiU offers in terms of story. A mysterious man on the magical radio in your head (I’m really anticipating the day when anyone can be in our heads at any given time) guides you along your way and points out locations and items of interest.
Our demo began with the Thought Police DJ explaining that crates contain supplies, and that scanning our environment is key. This is where the Wii U controller truly took on an intuitive use.
When opening our inventory, the main screen shifted to our character getting on a knee and rifling through his bag. It should be noted that you are still susceptible to attack when you choose to do this.
During this time, the focus switches to the screen on the Wii U controller. It evolves into an inventory screen, dividing the screen into two sections for the crate’s contents and your own bag’s contents, respectively.
But that’s only one small use of the controller. In the top left and right corners of the screen, there are four boxes, which our Ubisoft presenter described as your “pockets.”
These boxes are where you can place weapons, ammo, et cetera.
ZombiU definitely creates a frantic, realistic atmosphere with the simple feature of having to pick where and when you organize your bag, and hoping you have the right tool for the occasion at hand.
One of my favorite uses for the controller was the crossbow. After equipping it, I had to raise the controller itself up to use it as an aiming mechanism on the screen.
I lasted not even five minutes.
Fighting, or suffering from the plague?
One bite from a zombie, and you’re completely dead forever. That, however, is where the magic of street medical needles comes in.
Using a mysterious serum, players can inject themselves while being bitten to prevent zombification. Players must be wary, though: the stuff is not easy to come by.
If you do face a sudden and swift death like myself, you come back as another survivor. Our announcer even acknowledged my piss poor performance, by saying “Let’s hope you last longer than the other poor sap I tried to help.”
When you do inevitably fall victim to the zombie plague, you can find your way back to that area to discover your body walking around with your name, infected and very angry.
And that’s not all. While this game will not feature any type of cooperative play, you will be able to find where your friends have died and see their corpses.
It’s a nice, subtle touch to remind you that not every one of us is immortal (despite most games teaching otherwise).
I see dead journalists
The gameplay certainly makes up for it, though.
With quite possibly the best application of the Wii U controller we’ve seen so far, ZombiU is a game that anyone eying a Wii U should consider.
Although some work is needed, ZombiU manages to stand out from the putrid horde in a world that’s filled to the brim with the undead.