There's a new survival horror game on the block, and as a result, Earth is facing yet another zombie apocalypse. Ubisoft released the stirring Dead Island-esque trailer for ZombiU at its press conference yesterday, in the process promising blood, gore, and good old zombie-killing fun. The game has been designed specifically for use with Nintendo's Wii U, but despite the name, the game has more to it than simply helping the device meet its Wii U horror game quota. From our first hands-on play with the game, Ubisoft has gone to quite a lot of trouble to prove it's more than just another clone.
While the majority of the story is still a mystery to us, the gameplay is smart and uses the Wii U to great effect. You take control of a standard apocalypse survivor, but Ubisoft has stressed that they want the characters (yes, there are multiple playable people) to be representative of archetypes that would be perfectly at home in a horror movie. Our first survivor (or inevitable victim, depending on the playing ability) was a young man. The first level of our demo introduced us to the weapon systems, and players will primarily use the Wii U GamePad to explore the environment. There is a scanner that is accessible by holding the L button and allows you to survey the environment. You can dig into crates to find useful items once you spot the crates.
Essentially, the survival horror genre allows the Wii U GamePad to be your lifeline. Throughout the game it is the main source of navigation and hosts the map, the inventory, and the ability to analyze scanned items. Ubisoft stressed to us that you are encouraged from the get-go to make the most of your GamePad as it represents life or death for you. This became horribly apparent as we entered a new area, and all of a sudden the GamePad was reduced to static (an intended feature). Panic set in as we desperately longed for the red dots indicating zombies on our trusty scanner.
In ZombiU, your character is incredibly vulnerable. So much so that if you are bitten even once, you will die. However, instead of reloading, you become an entirely new character. You will need to return to the location of defeat to continue your progress.
ZombiU is genuinely scary. The game is designed to be realistic; you can’t switch out weapons with superhuman speed like you can in many modern shooters. Instead you have to painstakingly dig through your backpack praying you have enough ammo that you won't need to resort to your cumbersome cricket bat. The game's unique implementation of the Wii U hardware puts this title ahead of many of the other survival horror games released in the past few years. Don't expect this to be the next Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but if you like your survival intense, from what we've played so far, you're sure to find plenty of fun and clever gameplay in ZombiU. No release date information has been announced, but ZombiU will be released exclusively for the Nintendo Wii U. Keep it locked to GameSpot for more details.