‘ZombiU’, the newest entry in the zombie video game genre, is what could be considered a realistic take on a zombie apocalypse. And because of its realistic approach, it’s both gathering and repelling audiences.
The story takes place in London, soon after an epidemic wipes the city out and turns much of its population into flesh-eating zombies. You are a survivor who is desperately trying to escape, completing tasks and meeting other survivors along the way. You are led through this mayhem by a voice over a series of intercoms, taking you from one goal to the next.
The gameplay is unique in many ways. For example, when you die you restart as another character; there are no replays as the same John or Jane. Also, whenever your character bends down to investigate a corpse and loot it, the game switches to the handheld device that comes with the WiiU: this lets you feel the pressure of investigating a bag, with the constant threat of an attack from behind (and they do happen).
What is familiar (and somewhat tedious) is a linear story, the constant attacks, and the atmosphere. The game has a very heavy, dark atmosphere, and this has become standard with many recent zombie entries, from ‘Dead Island’ to the newer ‘Resident Evil 6’. The environments are run-down, shadowed, and dangerous. And totally enthralling.
The graphics are hit or miss, and the linear play of the game can become repetitive and boring. Whereas ‘Dead Island’ offered an open-world approach and left the player to roam and choose what goals to complete at their own pace, this is very ‘Final Fantasy XII’ in its run-down-hallways-for-hours style. And sometimes, with a large number of zombies attacking you at once, and the insanely-high number of hits it requires to take any one of them down, it can become incredibly frustrating to proceed.
Another element of the game which is drawing criticism is how characters can die. If you are bitten by a zombie…you die. Just one bite, and you’re dead. This sounds good on paper, but in reality, after hours of playing, when you’re downed by a single hit, it can result in controllers being thrown at televisions in total anger.
Overall, the storyline is relatively simplistic and, in the end, clichéd and predictable. Because of its linearity, there are no side missions; there’s no variation in the path a player follows, and because of this it becomes yawn-inducing. This leads little replay value, besides the multiplayer mode, which is again a very hit-or-miss package.
In the end, ‘ZombiU’ is just another entry into the zombie genre. It’s not as horrible as the light-gun ‘Resident Evil: Survivor’, but it isn’t a revolutionary benchmark as ‘Left 4 Dead’. In the end, it exists, and while for some this may be enough, for others they will look and ask, ‘Okay, so what?’
Note: This is another in a series of games where the trailer seem more enthralling than the game (the trailer for ‘ZombieU’ can be seen above). For comparison, here is the trailer for ‘Dead Island’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZqrG1bdGtg