ZombiU Personal Review

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How Long Will You Survive? For the second time in history, a great plague has enveloped London in a fog of death. Big Ben tolls as hundreds upon thousands of the unprepared die or are infected by a sickness worse than death So grab hold of the Swiss Knife of survival kits your GamePad and make every second count; you only get one chance. Stay human, we are a dying breed. excerpt from Ubisofts ZombiU Website ZombiU is a first launch release title by Ubisoft for Nintendos new console, the Wii U. The title is rated M for Mature with scenes of Blood and Gore, Intense Violence and Strong Language. When I purchased ZombiU, I felt that this game was going to hail back to the real survival horror genre. I was right. 400 years ago, a Welsh astronomer named John Dee created an apocalyptic prophesy known as the Black Prophesy which would be fulfilled in 2012. A man known as The Prepper sees this prediction coming true and begins preparations for the apocalypse. Meanwhile, a secret society known as the Ravens of Dee has been doing extensive research on John Dees prediction with the hopes to developing a means to stop it. However, by November 2012, Dees prophesy becomes a reality with a zombie outbreak in London, England. The Prepper has developed a Safe House at Shadwell station. The game opens up with the Survivor encountering the Prepper at the entrance of Shadwell and is directed to make his way to the Safe House within. It is here where the Survivors adventure begins. Presentation The player takes on the role of the Survivor. The Survivor awakens in the Safe House and is introduced to the Prepper via intercom system. For some reason, the Prepper is not physically present in the Safe House. The Prepper directs the Survivor to first turn on a gas powered generator so that the lights in the Safe House may be turned on. The Survivor is then directed to a work table to pick up a small device known as the Prepper Pad (the Wii U GamePad). On it, the Survivor is able to be in constant voice contact with the Prepper, who is able to monitor the Survivors movements through London. The Prepper has no problem taking credit for his little device (I designed it Me-self). The Survivor is tutored on the basics of survival and is sent on a preliminary mission to recover a B. O. B. (Bug Out Bag) /Backpack from a previous survivor. The game progresses on from there. The moment I exited the Safe House into the staging area to retrieve the B. O. B., I could already feel the tension building within me. The environment was dark, dank and creepy. Even though nothing was registering on my Sonar, save the one Zombie survivor, I felt nervous about being out there. I found myself moving very slowly and constantly checking my sonar and scanner for anything. I had never felt such tension in a survival horror game. Even after killing my first zombie with the cricket bat, it did not serve to help me feel secure about how I would handle myself with these creatures. When the Prepper instructed me to go find a keycard in the station that would give me access to leave outside, I was already feeling hesitant about doing it. Once I left the staging area, I found myself in the main lobby of the station and I could already detect movement on my sonar. After all was said and done, I found the keycard, but I would end up fighting 4 zombies. Melee combat with one is manageable. Taking on two becomes challenging. Three or more had me running and panicking. Playing this for the first time and getting familiar with my cricket bat and my handgun (which only had 6 rounds) had me feeling insecure. It takes more than one hit to kill a single zombie. And using the handgun (which is accurate) is difficult because these zombies move around enough for you to not get a clean head shot. Even if you do, that does not guarantee an instant kill. I shot a zombie in the head and it got angrier while he was chasing me around with a third of his head gone. I personally thought that once I got used to the initial shock and tendencies of the creatures, I would be a lot less tense and nervous. Not the case. As the game progressed, even though I get more weapons and more ammo and felt more confident in my ability to fight these things, I still felt unnerved. I have felt this way throughout the whole game thus far. The presentation on this game succeeded in keeping me feeling cautious, questioning how I should proceed and second guessing even though I knew I had a solid plan. And no matter how many times I faced a zombie, it still had the same effect. I was tense and scared. Why did it do this? Thinking about it, I realized that the element of surprise was always present. In an area where I think fighting a number of zombies was manageable, I would find out that there was more than I bargained for. There are a few shocking moments in this game the scared me. Other times, I did not know right away how to handle the situation, and the fear of death loomed over me. That is another thing. Death is absolute. For the most part, zombies have two basic attacks. Clawing and biting. When a claw attack hits you, you lose health quickly. 5 or 6 of those and its over. Biting? One bite and youre done. There is no forgiveness if you let a zombie bite you. Once you die, you are taken back to the Safe House and you awaken as a new Survivor. The problem is that any items you had from your previous character is still with that character and if you want them back, you must travel to the last point where you died and kill your zombified self. I found myself intentionally putting spare ammo away in the Safe House storage container just in case I died. Adding to the tension is that there are different types of zombies in this game. The most irritating to me were the former law enforcement personnel in riot gear. These zombies are bullet proof because of the protective gear they wore when they were alive. Get enough of these guys on your tail and it does spell certain death if you do not have the right items to combat them. Swinging your cricket bat alone will not do it against more than two of these things. Finally, the storyline is very basic and somewhat shallow. I felt it was a real life situation. Was I interested in John Dees prophesy? Did I want details? Did I care? Personally, I was interested when I could read the documentation material in the Safe House where I had no problems. But when I was outside, Dees prophesy meant nothing to me. I just wanted to live and get out alive. With that, I give the presentation on this game an 8.5. It succeeded in scaring me and it continues to keep me on my toes. Graphics Ive had to sit down and consider very carefully the graphics for ZombiU. So I decided to divide this into two different ratings. Dont get me wrong. Personally, I love the graphics on ZombiU. Yet Ive also had to take other factors into account in order to attempt to be objective. The first review rating is my personal feelings about it. The graphics on ZombiU are eerie. It is dark, dank, unpleasant and downright frightening. They give a wonderful representation of what a zombie outbreak would look like along with the chaos and downfall of civilization as we know it. The zombies are scary and terrifying to look at. My personal rating on the graphics is an 8. Now, for the objective rating. Many individuals realize the graphic power of HD on the Wii U is supposed to rival that of the 360 and PS 3 consoles. The way that ZombiU is designed, the graphics do not do this. It really does depend on what individuals expect to see from a Nintendo game that is supposed to sport HD graphics. If I am expecting ZombiU to have the same crystal clear graphics definition of say Skyrim or Batman Arkham City for example, clearly ZombiU falls painfully short. My assumption is that graphic critics want to be able to see the same type of detail in a zombie as they would when beholding Alduin or the Joker (or Harley and Catwoman), I understand their disappointment. Why, even the fog and snow in Skyrim was so epic to look at and walk through when compared to ZombiU. Although, when it comes to the elements, both games are trying to establish an experience that is very different. Could Ubisoft been able to do something more with the graphics? Some would answer with a resounding YES while others would argue that type of detail would take away from the atmosphere of the game. So, playing devils advocate for the other side, I will rate the graphics a 6.5. Sound The sound on ZombiU is everything when it comes to bringing forth the tension, the nervousness and the fear of what is around every corner. There is enough of a soundtrack to set the emotional tone that ZombiU is attempting to lead you into. Preppers voice sounds almost like Jason Statham. The deep growl of a zombie (or zombies) that has discovered your presence is enough to get you backing away with haste to seek a spot to make your stand. There is not much to review here. The sound does what its supposed to. It scares you. 8.5 Gameplay The interface is where ZombiU really shines. On your TV screen is all the action. On the GamePad is the primary tool in which will determine your survival. It houses your B. O. B., weapons and items. The primary feature(s) of the Prepper Pad are the radar/sonar and scanner feature. With it, the Survivor is able to discern if there is any movement in the immediate vicinity of his or her position. The sonar is basically a motion detector that is reminiscent the motion detector used from the first two Alien movies. Moving objects are represented by a red blip on the sonar and the Survivor is able to get a general idea of how close these moving objects are. The scanner allows the Survivor to scan the surrounding area in better detail. The scanner detects Zombies, other life forms (i. e. Crows or birds), items, objects as well as doors with great accuracy. The scanner is able to inform the Survivor if there is an item like a weapon or ammunition inside a container, rack or on a Zombie. It also has a marking feature so that the Survivor can keep track of it at all times. This is highly useful if the Survivor is trying to sneak to a particular item, location or discern the position of a Zombie. The Wii U GamePad also manages the inventory of the Survivor. Management of inventory (the Survivors B. O. B. or Bug Out Bag) is handled by the touch screen interface. The player can move items from the backpack (B. O. B.) to a few slots that represent the Survivors hands. These slots give the player immediate access to that item without the individual having to access that B. O. B. Anytime a survivor needs to access his or her B. O. B. to manage inventory, the game does NOT pause and it opens the character to attacks from any of the undead horde in the vicinity. So, the player must choose wisely as to what items the individual wants instant access to in the heat of a conflict. By doing this, Ubisoft has added the element of tension. This game is real time and the environment does not pause. Managing inventory in real time forces the player to plan ahead. This one element adds to the realism of the game and micromanagement of items now becomes risky when the Survivor is out of the safe confines of the Safe House. I personally like the realism involved. When I look at it, no zombie is going to stop just so I could pull out my double barrel shotgun from my B. O. B. to blow its head off. Also, to add to the realism, ammunition is a hot commodity. The Survivor must determine if it is wise to expend ammo in specific situations. There is no cache of 150 to 300 rounds waiting for you. Zombies do not necessarily carry bullets in their pockets. So, how and when a Survivor decides to use fire arms is extremely important. At the moment, the most rounds of ammo I have is roughly 52 rounds for my handgun. My shotgun ammo is about 15 and my rifle (carbine) ammo is about 20. And these rounds go fast. The other realistic part of the gameplay is the skill development. As the Survivor kills more zombies with a specific firearm, the individual becomes more proficient with the weapon. Reloading time is shortened and the amount of damage improves. Remember, if your character dies, so does the skills. Your new character does not have those proficiencies and the new Survivor will be starting from scratch. This is why players cannot treat this game like RE 5 or 6 or like the L4D series. Go in guns blazing and this unforgiving game will remind you that you are NOT Chris Redfield or Leon Kennedy. There is a real sense of investment in a Survivor and a real sense of loss when that individual dies. If a new Survivor is killed before recovering the items of the former Survivor, the weapons are redistributed randomly. So, recovering them is possible, but will take time. And the player must decide if it is worth the risk. There is one major reason that keeps me from rating the gameplay a 9. Glitches. Unfortunately, there are a number of glitches in this game. Some so costly, that if a player gets caught in one of them, the individual will have to start the whole game over from scratch. The most commonly known glitch occurs in the Nursery during a mission in which the Survivor must obtain some antibiotics. It is disappointment because the mission that occurs in the Nursery is one of the most frightening sequences of the game. I was very fortunate that I did not get caught up in that particular glitch (even though I pretty much met the criteria for which the glitch can occur). I have my own theories as to why I did not experience this game-ending glitch. I think it is imperative that Ubisoft develops a patch that clears up this major problem. On the bright side, the MiiVerse community has plenty of advice for individuals to avoid many of these glitches. This, however, does not excuse Ubisoft from not developing a much needed patch. Another thing that many individuals may consider a negative is that there is no online multiplayer for this game. My personal belief is that Ubisoft was not able to add any of these features due to the release schedule of the Wii U. My other belief is that this game was meant to be a single player campaign and that online multiplayer death matches does not apply to the theme of survival horror. There is a multiplayer feature, but it is restricted to a coop mode where it pits up to 4 Survivors against 1 King of Zombies. You can guess the object of the match. Zombie king spawns zombies against survivors. I have not played the multiplayer mode (everyone in my family is afraid to play the game). Thus, I am unable to give a review of it. With great realism and a wonderful use of the Wii U GamePad, this game really opens the door to the potential power of the Wii Us asymmetrical gameplay. But you got to fix the glitches!~ Until Ubisoft does so, Im rating gameplay a 7. Fixes the glitches, and my review jumps to a 9. Conclusion The numbers are in. Here are the results: Presentation 8.5 Graphics 6.5 (however for me personally an 8) Sound 8.5 Gameplay 7 (Come out with that patch and its a sure 9!) Overall Score 7.6 Overall Score (My personal opinion along with glitch fixes) 8.5 ZombiU, in my opinion, is a wonderful first launch title for the Wii U. It harkens back to what Resident Evil was really all about. If a players concerned about the glitches, they have a valid argument. Again, the MiiVerse community is always there to give a player input on how to work around these glitches. I personally would not let the glitches stop me from getting this game. The pros outweigh the cons for me. However, it is understandable as to why people might not get it. $60.00 is a lot to pay for a game that has major glitches like this. Yet, I paid $60.00 for it and I think it was worth it. I strongly encourage Wii U owners to get this game if they are fans of the Zombie genre and of the old RE franchise. Until then... How long will you survive?

Resident Evil: Revelations

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Although I am not a 'serious' gamer of the Resident Evil series, I have always admired it as a casual observer. The first time I played RE was when my younger brother acquired it on the Sony Playstation back in the 1990's. I was impressed with it back then and although I am not the type who got fully immersed with it, I have always admired the genre and have kept track of the canon of the franchise. "Resident Evil returns to survival horror with a brand new storyline and a new level of tension and intrigue. A brand new setting delivers a more tense and intriguing gameplay experience than any Resident Evil to date! Built from the ground up to take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS features, Resident Evil Revelations delivers outstanding visuals that bring the fear to life." - excerpt from "Resident Evil: Revelations" official website I decided to write a personal review of Resident Evil: Revelations because I felt it would be good to have an amateur's point of view on the game. This is only the second review I have ever written. The first review I composed was a few years back with RE: The Darkside Chronicles. Perhaps I will write a casual gamers review of Skyrim in the near future. Wait, can a casual gamer even hope to get through Skyrim? RE: Revelations takes place between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. It brings back characters Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield. It also introduces a number of new characters to the series. At the writing of this review, I have only played RE: Revelations through Episode 6 (Cat & Mouse). Which leads me to my first category of review. -Presentation- The story opens up with Jill Valentine and her new partner, Parker Luciani on a small tugboat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Both have been given orders to make contact with fellow agents Chris Redfield and Jessica Sherawat who have gone missing. The intel given to Jill and Parker leads them straight to a desolate cruise liner called the Queen Zenobia. And to make matters worse, the weather is stormy and unforgiving. The two make their way on to the cruise ship and the adventure begins. Resident Evil: Revelations plays like a mini-series television show and is divided up into episodes. As players progress through the story, you are treated to a number of different cutscenes and flash backs that helps players get up to date on the current situation. When an individual reaches the end of an episode, a cutscene ensues showing the 'cliff-hanger' and advances the player to a statistics screen showing progress i. e. shooting accuracy percentage, number of deaths, etc. The game then moves on to the next episode and treats the player to a 'Previously, on Resident Evil: Revelations--" intro. The spirit of this game hails back to the roots of Resident Evil. It is a survival horror game with a flavor of playing in the third person point of view of Resident Evil 4 and 5. This is not a fast paced, shoot them with guns blazing all over the place kind of game. The first obvious thing that the player will notice is how scarce ammunition is. In my opinion this is more realistic. This is a game that requires players to move at a much slower pace as they explore each corridor and room. The reason for this is that players will want to find every bit of ammunition and green herbs as possible, as well as parts for upgrading weapons. Many of these items are hidden from plain view. In order to locate them, players are given a nifty little device called the Genesis Scanner. More on the Genesis Scanner is covered in the gameplay section of this review. Also, the BOWs in here are not zombies. It is obvious that they are various members of the crew, but their mutation appears to put them past the traditional zombie form. Members of the crew are humanoid in appearance, but have been transformed into creatures that look more extraterrestrial than anything else. However, players will not get the feeling that they are playing some sort of space game. It is very much down to earth and very much Resident Evil. My Ranking - 9 -Graphics- The graphics on this game are excellent. Capcom made sure that it took advantage of the capabilities of the 3DS. And they did a good job. You get very good 3d effects and the cutscenes are nicely done. You can enhance the depth using the 3DS slider control and add even more by accessing the options selection in the main menu to further enhance the 3d. The main character models are wonderful and the effects are pretty good (I have often wondered why Clive R. O'Brian reminds me of Columbo). The textures and shading of the cruise liner and other locations is nice. But there is one area where I was not too impressed with the graphics and this was a harbor/port type of area. Monster detail is simplified when compared to the main characters. Especially the large leech type creatures that appear in the harbor. It appears that this was done on purpose to keep the performance of the game manageable. I am personally fine with this since I will be concentrating on killing these things before they devour me as opposed to standing back and admiring how grotesque they look. But that's just me. My Ranking - 8.5 -Sound- The music does a wonderful job of building up a 'something is going to get me' atmosphere as players explore the darkened corridors and rooms of the ship. This game has its small share of 'jumpy' moments. The mixture of metallic sounds along with the grunts of BOWs lurking about gives the player an eerie feeling that something is near. That along with the music adds to the tension. You know something is coming, but you don't know when or where exactly. The voice over acting is decent. Roger Craig Smith reprises his role as Chris Redfield and adds to the consistency of the character throughout the last few games. Patricia Ja Lee reprises her role as Jill and has been credited with Jill's voice for Resident Evil 5 and the Umbrella Chronicles. Two characters who have not gone over well with most critics are Keith Lumley and Quint Ketchum. For some reason, these two guys remind me of the small autobot characters who provided comedy relief on Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I do not think they are bad, but I think that I don't know enough about them to really care about why they act the way they do. On the slight bright side, at least when they are shown, they have some interesting club/techno music playing in the background. My Ranking - 8.5 -Gameplay- If your playing style is to come in and blow BOWs away and move on quickly, the campaign or story mode of Resident Evil: Revelations is not for you. This is a slow methodical exploration game with tension around every corner. There is a variety of ways to control your characters. First, this game is compatible with Nintendo's 2nd analog stick supplement add-on and the game can be played like a standard two analog stick controller. There is the traditional control configuration and then there is the gyroscope control configuration where players can use the gyroscope to aim at the monsters while using the analog stick to move forward, backward or strafe. I personally use the gyroscope to aim. The disadvantage with this is that I have to do constant turning when aiming at multiple targets. It drives my 6 year old son crazy when he is trying to watch me fight. When things start to get hairy, I set my 3d settings back to 2d because of the amount of moving around I have to do when I have multiple targets coming after me. The control response is good and I personally find aiming at BOWs easier when using the gyroscope setting. Switching between weapons is simple by use of the touch screen or the d-pad. Even healing is simplified so that players can quickly use an herb in the heat of battle. Another option is the ability to switch to 1st person view when shooting at enemies or keeping the traditional 3rd person view. It is nice choice to have for all players who fancy one view or the other. There is a variety of weapons and customizations available to use as players progress through the campaign. Upgrading weapons is particularly useful. The right upgrade can mean life or death. Making the determination when to use your weapons and when to run and dodge past the BOWs is key and can play an important role as to whether you need to save ammo for a boss BOW or if you are going to have to face creatures on your return trip through an area. Game saves occur periodically at check points or at the beginning or end of an episode. This is one facet of the game that I have wished that I could save at any point of the game. Checkpoints can be incredibly difficult and I had entered one save point where I was low on health and had no green herbs to utilize in an area filled with monsters. It was not a good feeling. I had to proceed more cautiously and always took inventory of ammo, herbs and miscellaneous tools before moving forward because I never knew when I would hit a checkpoint. The main addition to the gameplay is the Genesis Scanner. The scanner has 3 different functions. First, and probably most important, it detects hidden items in a room or hallway. Second, it gathers data on Bio Organic Weapons (BOWs) that have been defeated by the character. Upon defeating a Bio Organic Weapon, a player can analyze the remains of the creature with the Genesis Scanner. A percentage of the data is collected and is displayed to the player. When the scanner reaches 100%, the player is rewarded with a green herb. Players will be highly motivated to scan every creature they dispose of and every piece of random tissue that Genesis will detect in a room or hallway. Finally, the Genesis Scanner is also useful for detecting monsters that may be concealed from normal view. This is most obvious during situations where the player is traveling through a partially flooded passageway or room. I have used the scanner as an early warning system to help me detect enemies who are submerged underwater. This has proven to be very helpful in certain situations that I have been in where I am low on health and in desperate need of taking down BOWs before they get the drop on me. One other small addition to the gameplay is the overriding control panel feature. If a control panel is available for a player to open up. The player can use the 3DS touch screen to re-route wires to open an otherwise sealed door. This puzzle is very simple and attempts to add a small touch of innovation to the game. In my opinion, having this feature neither improves nor harms the game. I was fine with it, but I could do without it as well. Once a player has progressed through enough of the campaign, another gameplay feature called the Raid mode becomes available. Basically, it gives players the ability to go through areas of the map that the player has completed in campaign mode. Players can purchase weapons with BP that they attained during their travels in the Campaign. Even some weapons can be purchased with the 3DS coins. As a player completes portions of a raid, more upgrades and weapons become available for the player to use. I felt pretty good about getting a handgun that did some serious damage. It did twice as much as the standard issue fire arm that I start with. I have played the Raid mode a few times and have found it amusing. It is definitely easier than the 'Mercenaries' mode of Resident Evil 4 and 5. I found it fun and amusing. I would not call it addictive though. There is an online coop feature that players can utilize locally through the 3DS wireless feature or 2 players can play via the internet in a coop mode. Sadly, there is no coop mode for the campaign. But players can hack and shoot in the Raid mode to their hearts desire. The initial playable characters that open up in the Raid mode are Jill, Chris and Parker. More characters unlock later on. I have not worked with the online mode yet, but plan on doing it very soon. There are unlockable accomplishments called Missions as well. For the most part, it is amusing and kind of reminds me of the accomplishments of Left4Dead. It doesn't help nor harm the gameplay. One major downside to the gameplay is the AI of your partner. Parker does not do much damage to the BOWs. And they focus primarily on the player unless the AI player happens to do some sort of significant damage. Which is not that often! I understand the thinking that it is the player's responsibility to take down a BOWs, but partners are supposed to be there to provide SOME kind of support. The AI was not extremely helpful when it came to this. With fairly easy controls to work with overall, I found the gameplay smooth and fun. My Ranking - 8 -Lasting Appeal- In all honesty, I do not know how much lasting appeal this game will have. Playing the campaign mode could prove fun just for the visuals and the cutscenes. The Raid mode may also be very fun too. But right now, since I have not completed this game nor played the Raid mode online, I will reserve judgement. -Conclusion- In my opinion, this is the best 3d game for the 3DS since Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time. The graphics and gameplay on this game strengthens the potential argument of the 3DS being a good choice for intense gamers. My hope is that other 3rd party developers will take note of what Capcom has done here and develop some great games for the more hard line players. Two thumbs up. This is a 'must have' game for the 3DS. My Overall Ranking - 8