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Review

ZombiU Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • WIIU

With an uninteresting world and dull combat, the survival horror game ZombiU is a weak link in the Wii U's launch lineup.

The survival horror genre is a balancing act. The player needs to feel fear and helplessness, but also needs satisfying ways to take action and combat those feelings. This harmony is something even the genre greats struggle with, but that hasn't stopped the first-person survival horror game ZombiU, the latest to throw its hat in the ring--and on a new console no less. However, its vision of a zombie-infested London not only fails to create an engaging horror experience, but also falls short of being a good game.

Combat is how you spend most of your time in ZombiU. Many environments are claustrophobic, your ability to run is limited, and the zombies can easily keep pace with your character at walking speed. Attempting to charge past the horde can lead to receiving some painful glancing hits or getting surrounded by the undead. The best course of action is to play it safe and dispatch all the zombies you encounter.

This means luring enemies away one by one and clobbering them with the cricket bat. This melee method can take a long time, since the number of hits needed to fell a foe changes randomly. And no one zombie, even the faster ones or the armored ones, poses an engaging threat individually. You just stand there, hitting and waiting. Tools such as flares and land mines break up the monotony, but their contribution is fleeting.

Firearms are faster and deadlier, but are not as readily available as the cricket bat. A shortage of weapons is not uncommon for the survival horror genre, but ZombiU’s emphasis on fighting makes this scarcity sting. New weapons and ammo are uncommon, and can be lost if your character dies and you cannot recover his or her backpack after respawning. A more cautious strategy is to hoard weapons away and circumvent this risk, relying solely on the cricket bat and pistol that new characters always start with.

A zombie tackle means instant death, unless you have some Virucide.

Whether you choose to conserve your bullets or you use them as soon as you pick them up, most of your time spent fighting will be with the laborious cricket bat. Dispatching enemies this way is as repetitive as it is dull, and does not change throughout the entire campaign.

What does change are the protagonists. ZombiU takes an interesting approach by casting you as a new character every time you die, but struggles to stay consistent. In the beginning, your hero is taken in by the Prepper, a military man well versed in zombie survival (and conspiracy theories). But when that first character dies, the game's logic dies with him. It is not uncommon for the Prepper to yell at newcomers about issues they know nothing about.

Shouts of "I thought we were partners!" or "Why are you betraying me?" have zero context to a new arrival. Within the game's narrative, this person just got here. And since your hero is mute and disposable, all characters you encounter communicate at you, rather than with you (and they do not talk with each other). Everyone you meet is basically shouting at a very confused brick wall. This is not ideal for maintaining the unease and mystery of a horror story.

Bright lights expose your characters' extremely dirty vision.

The Wii U gamepad functionality doesn't contribute much to the game. The pad’s functions include displaying the map and your inventory, and being the place where you tap to interact with things such as wooden barricades or manhole covers. When tapping on an object, you are treated to a reverse shot showing what’s going on behind your character. Every so often a zombie will shamble into frame, creating slight panic as you tap away.

Other functions are simply better handled through traditional controller inputs. Cycling between weapons via touch screen or constantly dragging items to and from your backpack is not ideal. And scanning the environments for items means you do most of the exploration in a very detached, clinical way.

It's a zombie rave, open your mind and let the music take control!

Sadly, what you do in that world is not very interesting. The vast majority of your missions boil down to simple fetch quests. Go here. Collect this. Return it. Any side quests are self-assigned item runs in case you lose a gun or need some extra supplies. The few puzzles you encounter are follow the same pattern: scan the walls for numbers to input on key pads. In the end, most of your time is spent lazily hitting zombies with cricket bats.

Thankfully, ZombiU's multiplayer works well. This local-only, two-player mode casts one player as the zombie king and the other as the survivor. Both players are trying to capture flags, but have wildly different play styles. The king deploys AI-controlled zombies from a top-down view on the touch screen, while the survivor kills those zombies and tries to survive the onslaught. Both sides earn rewards as the match progresses.

In this mode, the game's design really comes together. Individually, the different zombie classes aren't very interesting to fight. But in a large group their specific roles make for more fun and engaging encounters. The survivor player enjoys the challenge of these dynamic encounters and unloads with a full arsenal, which the zombie king strategizes with different groups of zombies. This high-action mode is the opposite of the rest of the game's design, and is infinitely more enjoyable.

In the assault multiplayer mode both sides fight to control three flags.

ZombiU is a game trapped in the wrong genre. The run-and-gun multiplayer modes emphasize the game's competent shooting mechanics and ability to create interesting enemy encounters. However, these two aspects are discouraged in the single-player campaign for the sake of survival. To compensate, there's the bare minimum of a story and a few simple puzzles. And so much cricket bat. ZombiU could have been an enjoyable action game, but instead it is a poor entry in the survival horror genre.

The Good
Fun multiplayer modes capitalize on game's strengths
The Bad
Heavy emphasis on dull melee combat
Uninteresting puzzles and mission structure
Wii U gamepad adds little and hurts immersion
4.5
Poor
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Discussion

51 comments
marco_fnt
marco_fnt

Awful review... The game is awesome, imersive, frightful and interstingly uses the gamepad... It deserves 8/10 at least...what a shame gamespot...

esmilodonte
esmilodonte

Este carajo está loco y fumao, como va a decir que no es inmersivo!?! está loco, la única desventaja que tiene el juego y que todo el mundo sabe es que le hace falta variedad de armas de combate cuerpo a cuerpo, es la única. De resto se lleva mas que un 10 en todo. 


la cagó durisimo con ese review. 


Zombi U RULES!

happypanda53
happypanda53

im just now getting around to play this now that I finally have a WIIU and I picked it up real cheap. I gotta say, I couldn't disagree with this review more. yeah this isn't the best looking game out there and there are some frame rate and loading issues but it im having a blast with it. atmospheric and immersive. im giving it an 8.

stillfailing
stillfailing

This game looks like it would be so much fun to play. I'll trade someone a handy for a wii u for a week and this game.

ladyblue
ladyblue

Like the new layout for reviews.

cgobeil
cgobeil

I like this game a lot!

cnx2022
cnx2022

This review is spot on, though. 

Wow this was a shitty game

snin
snin

I think that the reviewer (and gamespot) is paid in order to underrate this game. By whom? Sony? Microsoft? 

It's very pity!

Starsailor_IT
Starsailor_IT

after about 3 hours of playing this game I can already say that the reviewer completely ignored how the rooms focus on killing the zombies in smart ways rather than going one by one with the bat. If he played it in this way, then it was his choice, not a game constraint. This game deserved a deeper analysis than a shallow "I am too bored to realize how to play this game" review. 

B_STATS
B_STATS

Ha ha another game reviewer that knows nothing about gaming and relies on what's 'in' to mete out his scores.

Lostat
Lostat

I don't know what game this reviewer's played, but it certainly doesn't sound like the game I've just completed that's for sure!  It's certainly not a perfect game, we know that, but I've played video-games starting with the Atari2600 through the Amstrad CPC to the gamecube, xboxes, playstations, handhelds and currently the Wii U and it was a fun game for me!

I can only guess the reviewer has no taste in games.  ;)

Omegasis
Omegasis

Maxwell McGee's review in this game is a bunch of senseless shit. This game deserves at least 7. Please, ignore all the babbling from this kid and go buy this game if you like this genre. It's a solid game and I can assure you that you don't gonna be disappointed. 

ster-bac-blu
ster-bac-blu

This game is AT LEAST a 7.5 if not an 8.

superxtreme101
superxtreme101

I don't know man, I've had an amazing time playing this game. It's not perfect but I'd personally score it a 7 at least.

fishpaws
fishpaws

Since the late 19th century, the standard way of reviewing a piece of work has been to judge it by WHAT IT ATTEMPTS TO ACHIEVE.  

Maxwell McGee = complete $#&*ing fool.  

I've have only ZombiU for a few days, and am completely enraptured with the tension, atmosphere and dread that comes over me when playing this game.  The challenge is addicting, and grows more so as you get more comfortable with the game's mechanics.  It comes down to your willingness to give yourself over to the experience and engage it on its terms, not yours.   

To put it another way, if your favorite movie is Top Gun, you just might think that Stanley Kubrick's movies are "slow."  :P

SergeantFuzz
SergeantFuzz

Okay I'm in the twilight zone because this game is amazing. I mean it's an incredible game. I mean there is no way in hell character models a little rough around the edges and a cricket bat make one of the most detailed, engaging, intense and solid games in years a 4.5. ZombiU is one of the best horror/zombie games I've ever played. 

AlexFili
AlexFili

Dead Island is a much better game in my opinion, combat in this game just feels wonky and the "ghosts" are boring

Dragonfang8712
Dragonfang8712

Hear the cries of the people?
This is what happens when reviewers like you fail to be smart!!

Crimson1253
Crimson1253

My friend had me over his place to play this game and i fell asleep when i pass the control.....I didnt really feel the whole dark experience of ZombiU when i play it.... Even my brothers think its retarded to buy it . Im still a fan of Nintendo, but i won't favor this game .

rattamierda
rattamierda

once again Gamespot attacks Nintendo, why i am not surprised?? Is this an opinion?? or a review??

fayhee98
fayhee98

Gamespot gives unfair reviews to PS3 and Wii U games. We can both agree on this.

Massuma
Massuma

Got this game a few days ago... Maxwell sir, your are retarded.

MajinSquall
MajinSquall

oh well a Wii U exclusive getting a bad score from Microspot sorry Gamespot what a surprise ever since they merged all the gamespot sites together the site has become ver xbox centric but then again they are now all run from america so what do you expect

about the game this is one of the most fun zombie games i have played in a while and  when he said "The Wii U gamepad functionality doesn't contribute much to the game" what was he smoking? the fact you have to use the gamepad to access your inventory or pick locks while the game still plays is a great thing because if it happened in real life i'm sure the zombies wouldn't wait while you look through your bag

sorry GS you guys have really gone downhill and i don't just mean on this review i mean on everything that isn't xbox (playstation or nintendo) get your c*** out of microsofts a** and try being a bit more impartial like you should be

rant over

osirisx3
osirisx3

this game is under rated but not amazing

yienwae
yienwae

Graphically inferior, that is true.  Sony and MS consoles were graphically superior and more powerful than N's Wii. 

Gimmicky?  I recall that the 'gimmicky' controller had both MS and Sony jumping around to create their Kinnect and Move features for their consoles to compete with N's 'gimmicky controller' the following year.  They began a big push to try and attract the family, casual gaming, the exercising and dancing/singing community as well.  That does not sound gimmicky to me.  That is MS and Sony seeing N doing something that they took granted and they had to catch up.  The impact of the controller and gameplay highly motivated the other two console makers.  Stop minimizing history.  N did something right with that graphically primitive game console

As for the Wii U, what it is capable of will depend on what the 3rd party developers decide to do with that new gamepad controller.  It will either flop because developers do not see it worth the investment, or it will take off and we will see MS and Sony scrambling again to develop soemthing that is similar to what N is doing.  Either way, competition and variety wise, I would like to see N's console succeed because it will push the other two makers to come out with a great product.  Waving the 'Next Gen' graphics and 'Next Gen' online gameplay alone cards will not do it. 

martier4
martier4

The single player is awesome but King of Zombies local multiplayer is even BETTER!!

Ezioprez9709
Ezioprez9709

I'm sick of the fact that Gamespot doesn't appreciate good games anymore. Seriously they troll about Kid icarus and the like.

NinjaMaddy
NinjaMaddy

Needs online multiplayer. If it gets it then Im buying the game. Im tired of buying games that dont have online capabilities.

AtariKidX
AtariKidX

A horrible game for a horrible console.WiiU sucks.

ac1907
ac1907

Ok, just spent a good chunk of time with this game. I generally don't like second guessing the gamespot reviews because even when they're stingy (skyward sword) you can at least see their point even if you don't agree with it. For this game they really dropped the ball and I hope this guy's reviews get scrutinised by the senior staff in the future.

It's damaging to give a game this kind of score but you kind of feel like in this case it was casually assigned because the guy was in a bad mood or something. They way he talks about it is more consistent with a 6, which isn't a million miles from the mean score. A 4.5 is off putting and almost made me not buy the game. Lucky I looked at other reviews too.

My feelings is that it's by no means a perfect game and there are issues to iron out but the atmosphere it manages to create makes it a real joy to play and the fact that it doesn't feel like the same old FPS re-hash says a lot. A solid 7.5, maybe 8

Chrimbus8bit
Chrimbus8bit

I wasn't gonna get this game based on the reviews but it's becoming more and more common the reviewers opinion is not in line with even the slightest minority of people that have played the game(s). From checking Miiverse, a few different review sites and now here, anyone that has played the game seems to love it. Will be picking this one up very soon. I always enjoy a good scare, even though the whole Zombie outbreak format is growing tiresome.

Jdzspace
Jdzspace

@happypanda53 = i'm finally getting my Wii U tomorrow, and got Zombi U for $1, so i'm looking forward to being able to finally playing it. 

low risk, high reward. 

vampyren
vampyren

@snin If so please enlighten us why you think that, have you finished the game and if so what part of the review dont you agree with? has it a good story? good mechanic?

There is a sale on WiiU eshop so i came here to read about the game so i really like to know what others think, so far i trust a detailed review more than just a one liner but please do elabrate....

cnx2022
cnx2022

@snin 

I used to think the same way with games I loved, but truth of the matter is that it ALL boils down to the reviewers' personal opinion.

stillfailing
stillfailing

It looks like a great game! I haven't played it but I'm confused by the score regardless.

peladex31
peladex31

@AlexFili i can't believe what i'm reading. dead island???!!! really????!!

ster-bac-blu
ster-bac-blu

@Crimson1253 this game was rated M. You sound like you're 8.

Dragonfang8712
Dragonfang8712

@rattamierda 

People just think they are cool hating Nintendo, if they only knew how stupid that sounds... Who reinvented gaming?
Last I checked, not CoD, not Halo.
Mario and the NES did.
My guess, these people are stuck up jerkstores who are determined to make Nintendo look bad

Zevvion
Zevvion

@NinjaMaddy Sounds like you should take a good look in the mirror and think about where it goes wrong. Spoiler alert: you're looking at it.

ster-bac-blu
ster-bac-blu

@NinjaMaddy then perhaps research the games before you buy them?

fayhee98
fayhee98

You're an idiot. Other consoles will NEVER get great games like Super Smash Bros or Pikman 3. All you have is some shitty FPS games like CoD and Halo.  So HA HA, and go fuck yourself.

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

@ac1907 I've not played this game and I doubt I'll get a Wii U but when the Metacritic score is 77 and most reviews for this game that I've seen rate it between 6 - 8 then, yeah, you do start to wonder about the validity of this review.

Zevvion
Zevvion

@Dragonfang8712 @rattamierda I agree this review is not accurate, but Halo did make a significant contribution to gaming. 

Like it or not, Call of Duty did too.

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

@Dragonfang8712 @rattamierda While there is some truth to that, we can't treat Nintendo as holy and untouchable for what they did decades back. If Nintendo can't keep up with the state of the contemporary industry then that's too bad for them.

That said, the massive difference between this review and every other review I've seen for this game so far leads me to believe there is also truth to what you say.

Zevvion
Zevvion

@fayhee98 I think Zombi U is a great game, but other consoles also have great games.

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

@Shanks_D_Chop @Dragonfang8712 @rattamierda I've always said that games that elicit such a disparate reaction almost always are the ones that really, REALLY tried to go for something way out of the ordinary. Even if you don't buy that game's premise and central concept, if you're the kind of gamer that just wants to try something different from the mold, the game will be worth it.

I finally got the Wii U (after E3 it is clear there's no rush to get the PS4 this year, much less the Xbone) and after about four hours of ZombiU I can tell you that game is the most clear embodiment of what I feel about divisive games. It pleasures some people as much as it irks others because it's SO UNIQUE IT HURTS. It's pretty much like Demon's/Dark Souls in that some people won't be able to handle it but others will see the BRILLIANCE of what it tried to accomplish. It's the ultimate zombie SURVIVAL game; you can't go into it with ANY preconceived notions of what a zombie game should be or you'll be disappointed. It's like trying to play Half-Life 2 expecting it to be Call of Duty.

ZombiU is actually closer to the Condemned series, to Amnesia: The Dark Descent and to Demon's Souls than any zombie game ever released. It's very immersive in its combat (that's why it seems to have "clumsy controls" - it's as clumsy as YOU would be in that exact situation), just like Condemned's combat but just a little more realistic; it's about hiding and running and avoiding conflict as much as possible, with risk/reward between using your flashlight and possibly attracting zombies or not using it and risking not knowing where to go, just like usign lanterns and other lights sources in Amnesia; and it uses online player messaging and the need to get back and recover your stuff with a new survivor once your former one dies, in a similar vein to Demon's Souls - and as punitive as this one, since you can die in that recover trip and lose all your precious accumulated stuff. Better use it judiciously than to hoard it too much and risk dying in a tight spot that prevents you from easily recovering your bag.

This game is genre-defining and yes, a system-seller, provided you have a handful of other Wii U games in mind too. No wonder Giant Bomb put it in their top 10 of 2012, it surely deserves it. A big surprise I wouldn't expect from a game with such an idiotic name.

ster-bac-blu
ster-bac-blu

@Shanks_D_Chop @Dragonfang8712 @rattamierda

Replace 'Nintendo' with "any existing corporation" and that statement holds true. Nintendo is very aggressively holding the largest piece of the gaming market captive and out of reach from its competitors (kids, adults, casuals, nostalgics, party gamers, social gamers, handhelds, motion gaming). They are the only contemporary gaming company existing as of now.

ZombiU More Info

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  • First Released
    • Wii U
    ZombiU is a fear-fueled first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montpellier.
    7.3
    Average User RatingOut of 376 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate ZombiU
    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Montpellier
    Published by:
    Ubisoft
    Genres:
    First-Person, Team-Based, Shooter, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language