News Article

First Impressions: ZombiU

Posted by Mike Mason

London crawling

Ubisoft's first-person shooter ZombiU is brutal. Adapted from the ashes of the cancelled Killer Freaks from Outer Space, it sees London overrun by hordes of infected monsters. Your only goal is to survive, but don't expect to do so for very long; battles are desperate, fought with melee weapons or a weak pistol until you can scrape together something more substantial, such as a shotgun. There are no checkpoints, no lives, no retries. When your character is fatally assaulted you are instead spawned into the body of a new survivor to start afresh, your inventory lost.

You can only be attacked twice before you die; the first time you'll be automatically protected with a syringe of anti-zombie venom, but there's no such respite the second time you let your guard down. There are seemingly an unlimited number of survivors ready to go, and it becomes a game in itself to survive longer with each subsequent character; the length of time you lived for as a certain person is displayed as you die.

The interesting twist, though, is that perished characters don't just disappear – they become part of the hellish army. As such you can risk returning to the point where you just died, which will still hold the very enemies that you fell to previously, and find your old self as a decaying zombie. Slay them as you would any other and you can loot the corpse to retrieve your items. In the final version your dead characters will not only be resurrected in your own game but also sent to friends' games so that they can shoot and pillage your rotting carcass too.

The key factor that will either entice or dissuade players is the 'don't stop' mentality. There's the option to pause, of course, but this only gives access to the usual options. Your inventory is accessed in real time on the Wii U GamePad, forcing you to look away from the television if you want to mess around with your items, simulating the need to rifle through a backpack in the same way you'd have to in reality.

Looting is similarly taxing. To pick things up you have to push a button next to the body or box in question, then gather and organise the items on the GamePad's touch screen. While you're doing this the camera zooms out to show a dramatic third person view on the television, the game world continuing to shuffle around you. Grabbing supplies becomes a panicked affair as you glance between TV and GamePad to watch out for oncoming attacks or surprises. The same worries come into play when you're picking locks by tracing patterns on the touch screen. Zombies come out of nowhere, so you need to be ever vigilant.

They also do the same when you're in the standard view, bursting from cupboards or turning up from behind burning buildings in droves. The GamePad screen also holds a useful map, displaying the position of enemies and pointing you towards your next goal. It represents what is shown on a tablet-like device carried by your character, and through this a mysterious helper barks commands and guides you to your next objectives.

The GamePad can act as a night vision-like scanner, used to mark piles of items so that you don't have to waste time trundling to each and every dead body only to find them bare. Focal points light up on the GamePad screen, and if you move to target them and then analyse them with a touch you're told what's there so you can decide whether it's worth your while or not. These functions are vital lifelines, so it was a shock later in the demo when the in-game communications became jammed, filling the screen with static and leaving us reliant only upon what could be seen by torchlight on the main screen.

After walking around the grounds outside Buckingham Palace, beefeater and policeman zombies all over the place, we sneaked into the palace's nursery. The creepy atmosphere of children's playrooms splattered with blood got stronger as we shuffled through ventilation ducts and ultimately find ourselves plunged into almost complete darkness, where the map cut out. Our demo ended after a murderous zombie nurse burst from the shadows and killed us before we'd even had time to aim. In a total of fifteen minutes or so we lost four characters, though admittedly some of those deaths were caused by a lack of concentration.

ZombiU is made for core and skilled players, taking an unforgiving approach to the first-person shooter genre. As with several other Wii U games on show, there's still polish to be done – some parts looked at about mid-tier Xbox 360 standard – but it's one of the more interesting titles shown on Wii U so far. The use of the GamePad screen makes you play differently, more cautiously, and should lead to some genuinely fearful moments of survival horror.

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User Comments (62)



Malkeor said:

The dying and losing all your stuff might put alot of people off, but it's a good thing you can still get them all back.

This might be an interesting game for those hard core survivalists.

Dunno if it'll be for me though...but it might be too hard to resist. It's defiantly an interesting concept.



19Robb92 said:

Sounds very unforgiving.. Could make for lots of really interesting multiplayer modes though. Looking forward to hearing more.



drumsandperc92 said:

wow sounds similar to old school games in the sense that it doesn't sound like you are to save your game. also, it doesn't sound like theres even a goal?? just survive as long as possible?
i want to hear more about this game but it sounds hard and fun. i like the idea that if you die you just start again as another player and try to survive has that old arcade vibe to it with that aspect.
just last as long as you can! sounds like it could be a fun pick up and play kind of game which is something games these days with missions and long story modes don't really have, you know?
i might be picking this up.
One thing though...ZombiU? Really? couldn't think of a better name? Lol.
and this looks like nothing like killer freaks btw....i would've never known if it weren't for this article.



FonistofCruxis said:

I had written this off as just another generic zombie shooter but it seems that I was wrong to do so as it sounds very innovative. It lacks personality though and I'm not sure if its one I'd want get but it sounds better than I first thought. Can you save or do you restart as the first survivor every time you play?



cecesigue said:

The way you play this took me by surprise, in a good way! very interesting concepts... i don't like the name either, but I'm more worried about the actual controls or momentum the game can provide than, the graphics ( that look a little bit 4 years ago) or anything else.



cfgk24 said:

This sounds fabulous! When you die - You die! just as it should be Games are better when they are genuinely hard



LavaTwilight said:

I agree with the goal aspect of it... some games are there to have fun but this one clearly isn't one of those (per se). I would need to know the aim of the game is before I make a purchase. Is there some guy watching you through cctv guiding you out of the city or to the helipad (as is the Resident Evil 2 film)? In which case yeah I can definitely dig it!
This seems like my choice game. I avoid anything to do with spiritism or the occult so Silent Hill has always been out the window but I found Resi Evil TOO monotonous and repetitive after a few hours. This however looks like it can fit the bill, esp when simulation the cricket-bat swings!



MitchVogel said:

I think this game will be really good! Now I'm kinda curious about the goal, tho. Is it just like a perpetual game of nazi zombies?



Shotgunryugan said:

This sounds great,i originally thought this was just another generic zombie game,but now this sounds like actual fun and challenge.




Punny said:

Other than the silly name, this looks like a thrilling game!



Sean_Aaron said:

This actually sounds pretty cool, but the make-or-break for me is: does it have the option for Remote+Nunchuk control? If not, no sale as I just don't do dual analogue in first person.



Alienfish said:

The name makes more sense if you understand Ubisoft's past. Their first game was simply called Zombi without the 'e'. So this is actually a reboot even more than a new IP.



ajcismo said:

A game with some teeth right out of the gate. This will probably be my first purchase along with the system itself.



Edlicious said:

Sounds like a fps demon souls, but I saw a interview and one of the creators said the game has no check points or saves? Do you have to beat it all in one sitting?



baba_944 said:

It sounds like all old Mario/Sonic and other 8-bit games. And losing all your items reminds of Sonic losing all his Rings when hit.



shake_zula said:

I'm also now very interested to know the structure of this game. I'd love it if it was purely an arcade style how-long-can-you-survive mode with no levels or checkpoints. However, if it's going to be structured like the typical single player FPS campaign I'll probably give it a miss. I'll have Colonial Marines or Black Ops 2 for that, one of which I'll be buying anyway for some traditional online deathmatches.



shake_zula said:

Yeah, I can't see this supporting Wiimote/Nunchuk. The gamepad seems too integral. Disappoints me too Sean, because I'm not fond of dual analog and the gamepad stuff isn't what's selling me on the game, but it's not a dealbreaker for me.



Alienfish said:

With a new system comes a new controller and new possibilities. I'm personally looking forward to exploring some of these possibilities with ZombiU. Using the touch pad as my gear and equipment is pure genius and will no doubt be the reason this game will be terrifying. I recall some Nerf wars I played in and the hardest thing about having a large loadout was figuring out the best way to store everything on my person. Getting caught fumbling with your gear made for some of the most intense moments and that is what I hope is recaptured by this game.



carnage2211 said:

If you think about it its a lot like Minecraft in the sense that you lose all your stuff and you can get it back. I mean that might just be me...



Game0ver_Gavin said:

Poor London... being attacked by zombies.... I'm not going to get this because chances are its gonna be rated M...



Supremeist said:

Looks very cool.
I'm a huge zombie fan, so hopefully if I get a WiiU I can go and buy this one. I literally get every zombie game that comes out.. even if they look atrocious, like Lollipop Chainsaw which I'll be buying used.



BenAV said:

This is a near certain buy for me, it looks awesome.
I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be absolutely terrible at it, but I'll have a blast anyway.




If this is supposed to be a survival horror game, they're walking on a fine line with the brutal-sounding game-over-like death, killing the immersion.

Other than that, this sounds like a neat twist to zombie shooters



Kage_88 said:

This game actually sounds really cool!

The real-time inventory management is a great idea (even though it DOES remind me of the terrible Alone in the Dark), which should really up the tension.

I hope the visuals will be polished up, though.



WaveGhoul said:

They should let you switch to the Gamepad's touch screen to clean up and bandage your wounds when the time is needed!



stipey said:

Just want to acknowledge the fact that London Crawling is brilliant. That's all.



Sean_Aaron said:

I don't see why both Gamepad and remote+nunchuk cannot be supported. I don't need to hold the pad in my hand to do inventory and having to be weaponless whilst using the IR scope would be more in keeping with the "realism" of the game since we're presumably not commandos.



alLabouTandroiD said:

I like the concept and the trailer also looked interesting.
However, if you can't even do suspend saves that probably means we'll get about two or three hours of content. It that's the case i don't think i can justify paying a lot for it.



hYdeks said:

Dear Nintendo,

I love your Wii U and what you showed off of it, but how about the information ppl ACTUALLY want? Like how much the system is gonna cost, when we can get our own system, and hell, how about mentioning at least a range of what the games will cost. But alas, you gave us alot of info, but really haven't told us . Nintendo, get ur head out of ur , tell people NOW



acelect24 said:

This game sounds awesome! I've placed it second on my list of anticipated Wii U titles, after Pikmin 3!



luminalace said:

I'm a huge Resident Evil fan and am so far not too impressed with the way RE6 is shaping up. If ZombieU can be scary (which it sounds like it is) yet still have satisfying gun action, I will be on it in a minute.



Samholy said:

first, nintendo has to convince me buying the WiiU with an affordable price.
then, zombiU must have multiplayer.
then it must have a good amount of content
then it must be more competitive than other games at launch.

theeeen i will consider buying it. but they didnt sell me the WiiU concept yet. they better sell it cheap, or i will have to wait for it to go cheaper. which will happen when the ps4 will be out, and nintendo will have lost its cause when this will happen.



Dreadjaws said:

Well, it seems someone is actually caring about making Survival Horror games, unlike "others"... (cough*Capcom*cough).

Anyway, the game looks interesting, and the retrieve-corpse-and-get-loot-back mechanic is similar to the one in hack and slash games (though with the twist of having to fight your old corpse), so it's nothing someone can't adapt to. Though I really want to know if this game retains another hack and slash mechanic: being able to save the moment you quit the game.



Whopper744 said:

Disapointed the Alien game was cancled and turned into another Zombie game....What is the deal with zombie's being so popular anyway??
Even so, this game looks pretty cool after seeing more of it. Just kind of tired of this zombie popularity the past few years especially.



LeTr011 said:

DayZ is a better zombie simulator, but we never know.ZombieU could be the best zombie simulator.But for now i'm just all for DayZ



Mason said:

I'll try to answer a few of the questions that seem to be popping up.

Can you save / are there checkpoints?

I'm unsure. I assume there's some kind of save system, or else it'd have to be quite a short game if there's an overall storyline. Maybe at the least there'll be some kind of quick save so you can switch off quickly and pick up where you left off next time.

Are there goals?

In the demo you're being directed by a stranger through the tablet device that each character has. The goal of the demo was to creep through a part of Buckingham Palace, though I'm not sure why. I suspect there is an overall storyline to do with this stranger. He gets disgruntled every time somebody dies and is claiming to be trying to help, but I would imagine there's something more to it.

Are Wii Remote and Nunchuk supported?

I don't know at this stage. They weren't in this demo, but that's not to say that they won't be in the final thing. Hopefully the asymmetrical multiplayer mode, where one person controls zombie hordes with the GamePad and others fight against them FPS style, will support them at least. It used Wii U Pro Controller at E3 if what I've read is correct, but unfortunately it wasn't available to test at this showing so I can't really comment any more on that.



alLabouTandroiD said:

The other question would be if this can bring PS360 owners to buy a Wii U. Aren't they saturated with all the zombie survival stuff they already have? If there was a Dead Rising game with ZombiU's concept on the horizon would anybody care about this game?




I couldn't go back to dual analogue controls for first person view games myself. Like writing with a quill and ink instead of a pen/pencil or word processing laptop!




I love the concept esspecally since survival horror is a dieing genre in movies for that matter. Instead of thrills and chills we over the top Micheal Bay inspired action all the time and I'm tried of it. All I would add to this game is a decent mode you can play and survive with my friends because I can already tell the campain is gonna be short.



Omarzuqo said:

Will there be an option to use Wiiremote and Nunchuck?

Going back to dual analog after playing FPSs on Wii is absurd IMHO.



JayceJa said:

if theres no motion plus controlling i wont be getting it

for a first person shooter it seems pretty awesome, but i refuse to play dual analogue shooters



DStroke said:

I played it yesterday and I like the gameplay although the sensitivity was to high for me. the multiplayer idea with tapping zombies at specific spots was fun and very hard for the survivor to capture the flag. I watched my friend playing the singleplayer and it was awesome BUT the graphics??? -.- where the hell is this next gen? look at crysis3, this is next gen. ZombiU looks like a good Wii title with more objects and details. I know gameplay should be more important than graphics, but I also want to have fun watching the game cause it looks good not only plays good!



SaSoBe said:

If I kill an zombie, will it be there when I get there with a new character? Or do thet respawn?

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