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ZombiU (Wii U)

73
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  FireHorsePrime (20)
Written on  :  Feb 18, 2014
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

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Summary

This game disappointed me... FHP OUT!

The Good

Use of the gamepad was intuitive, music and sound effects are well designed. I've heard multiplayer is good, but I don't play well with others so I wouldn't know.

The Bad

Use of the gamepad was counter intuitive during fight sequences in that you need it to switch weapons, and for a game that punishes you for dying, it's spiteful to put you in a powerless position for even just a moment, all while trying to cover yourself on the fly with no ammunition.

In general the controls are just terrible. Let's face it, the gamepad is basically a tablet computer in your hands, and with the controls it brings your arms far enough apart that you have to get used to playing with it as if it were a standard controller and there is a comfort level you have to find in this configuration. That being said, L3 for running was truly a bad idea as L and LZ are just below it, and were constantly disrupting my progress. I had to mentally remember to keep my left index finger snuggly under L so I didn't accidentally trigger it or LZ while running, especially during the circus time trials, which are forced on you when you just think you're getting a hang of the game. The option to invert look on the game pad was a glaring omission, as I'm an old school gamer and have always used flight-sim style controls on my FPS's. Mentally switching between the two view formats was such a headache that I literally re-programmed myself to play with standard controls. It's been an adjustment that has literally re-defined how I play games now.

Graphics are substandard, with poor textures and a garish "looking through a dirty car window" aspect to them. Because of this I truly wasn't scared, feeling as if I was watching some animated Zombie movie where poorly rendered dead things were being thrust at me.

Zombi U is blessed with at least one horrible programming snafu, such as when I was locked in a safe room in Buckingham Palace and was unable to do anything but quit my game and lose all my progress. Load times are also questionable.

Logic seems to be an option in this world, as you are left with nothing when you reincarnate and you start at level 1, but your weapons retain their upgrades and you always have a pistol and a bat. Additionally, zombies are typically lumbering unfocused creatures. Regardless of this fact, in Zombi U they keep up with you at an irritating rate, even when you run. They might as well be alive.

Disappointing character development puts a damper on the emotional draw of the game. The Prepper seems to be in his own little world, eventually falling under the illusion I'm working against him. The doctor in Buckingham Palace has an interesting flare, but his character is so undeveloped that we don't really care when his predicament comes to a dead end. Finally there are these spoken messages throughout the game that are intended to engage the player in the evolution of the "Blight", but they seem more like sprigs of parsley on a dinner plate; sure you can eat them but they are hardly satisfying. All of these factors augment the feeling that you're not interacting with anything, just running around bashing Zombies.

While I don't mind the next aspect so much, game play has been compared to Metroid where you backtrack for additional items and clues, and Zombi U is all about retracing your steps. But at least Metroid has tight controls that give you a fighting chance and doesn't compound the punishments if you don't play the game a specific way, such as this game where if you fail to survive during the final sequence, your shortcuts are removed.

While you're free to travel almost anywhere in London, I would have suggested a better chronological flow to the game, where we experience the passage of day and night, such as in Skyrim. I think this urgency to get under cover when night falls would have added an amazing dimension to the game, but time seems to be a prisoner along with us, where it's always night or always day depending on where you're at.

Some have said the game should be looked at as true survival horror but even the original "Resident Evil" gave you a save system to fall back on, Zombi U gives you a learning curve for wrapping your head around the idea that you are playing a body, not a character, even though they all have names. If they die, you can move onto the next one so having any feelings for these automatons is pointless. Yeah, it probably looked good on paper, but I think just like the lack of connection with the Prepper, all of these elements enhance ones indifference to the experience, and it totally works against the game.

A challenge for many and I do respect that, Zombie U is definitely a game that will monopolize your mind and give you plenty of work to do to get through it, but it could easily have been put on a mobil device and called "Bash the Zombies" and would have been just as effective.

Some have also said that you shouldn't have preconceived ideas about what this game should be, and assume those of us who don't like it are expecting a traditional FPS rather than a unique survival horror experience. I argue that I'm pretty open minded about gaming experiences, but in this stage of gaming technology we have a right to expect a $60 game to be fluid, varied, logical, bug free with a lot of content, and Zombi U is NONE of those things. Thanks to Ubisoft it never will be, and honestly I think my biggest peeve is Ubisoft's willingness to abandon this title even though it clearly has a strong fanbase, of which I was one for a short while. Correcting their programming errors with proper updates and perhaps offering one DLC package would have been nice, but they have declared this one DOA, and so should we.

The Bottom Line

An ugly little merry-go-round of tedious, repetitive and unfulfilling gameplay that's less about fun and more about work. That is, WHEN it works.