Zombi U was the best game at the entire Expo. That concludes the Zombi U impressions, now let’s take a closer look at the GamePad.
It’s a thing of beauty. Lift up your generic keyboard, close your eyes and pretend it’s a controller; the Wii U pad is somehow lighter than that. I had concerns that it wouldn’t be a good controller for analog movement, but holding it for the first time relieved that; and playing Batman and Zombi U completely dismissed it. The groove sticking out at the back is perfectly placed to rest your fingers on, and it just sits there on your index fingers with the weight distributed through your hands to the point where you don’t even realise. It’s light, robust and comfortable – even with the fat cord dangling out the back of the demo units. It’s a solid control option for all the games you’ve played before, not just Nintendo Land.
Well that was a short article, luckily I have more to say on Zombi U. It’s a genuine survival horror game. Despite the echo of voices and flashing lights destroying any “atmosphere” the demo might have had, it was terrifying for one reason: the GAMEPLAY!
First of all, the graphics are fantastic. Really smooth and coherent, without unnecessary detail. It’s not like Resident Evil 6 where each room has 40 chairs and balloons for no reason, the structure of this first area was really interesting. The first room on the left I walked into had a little opening behind a bookcase that you couldn’t see straight away. Peering behind it revealed a passage leading to a ladder. Hmmm, there’s a little opening here you can crawl into… let’s see what-
BAM! A zombie pops its head through the other side! The wanker Nintendo staff member here actually grabbed me from behind at the same time, and I almost punched him in the face. Suddenly my character is standing up and this thing is right in front of me. DIE! Holding L to aim I fired a shot in the chest, it went back a bit but it was still too lively for my liking. I lined up a shot to the head but missed because I suck with non-inverted aiming. Next shot, BAM in the head. It’s dead.
Peering around the room I noticed some shotgun ammo on the shelf. Sure, I’ll take every bullet I can get. Grabbing the item meant I had to pull out my backpack. It doesn’t just appear on the tablet, you have to drag it out by sliding from the top. At this moment the action disappears and it just shows you crouching on the TV, I immediately closed the backpack to make sure it was a safe thing to do. Yep, no worries. Into the bag!
The inventory has 6 quick slots (3 on each side) that are always accessible just by touching them when walking around. I dragged the shotgun shells out of my bag into an empty space so I could reload on the spot. If the ammo is inside the backpack it can’t be used.
Pressing on, it seemed this room was a dead end. I pressed the L button to scan around to make sure, looks like there’s a code I missed. I forget what it was, but I stored it in my short term memory, which is not a feature of the GamePad. 8-2-6-4? Maybe. Scanning around with the pad shows all the interactive things in the room with a small dot, and lets you analyse them with a touch. From what I recall it basically says things like “these are shotgun shells” and “this guy might be infected”. No biggie.
Code obtained, I backtracked down to the first room. There’s another path leading to a big open area now with a staircase. Two zombies await me. SPEW, blood in my face! Looks like one of them has a long range attack! Disgusting red blur covers the TV in a fairly cheap looking effect. I can’t really see, but I know they’re approaching. I back-step then line up a shot on the closest guy as my vision clears. The aiming felt very slow but precise, the cursor didn’t flick around fast and it almost takes too much time to move. It took two shots to the head to kill this guy, and I wasted three on the other.
At this point I realised I was in trouble, because I had 3 or 4 bullets left. I hadn’t even used the cricket bat yet, but probably should have earlier on. Climbing the stairs I went around the top story of the big room, and saw an ominous looking zombie sitting down. The Nintendo Rep chimed in “he’s going to come to life, give him a head shot now before he does!” and ruined this surprise for me. Whatever, buddy. BAM, his head flew off with one shotgun round.
I continued on to meet another zombie. Low on ammo, I took a long time making sure I had the head lined up for one perfect shot. HOLY SHIT, TOO LONG! It lunged forward and grabbed me right when I touched the trigger. A button prompt appeared on the screen and I shook him off. BAM, I took my headshot straight away and finished it. My health had gone down to half, but it didn’t bite me.
1 bullet remaining. I turned around and 3 more zombies had climbed over something to enter the area. Crap. BATTER UP! Tapping the cricket bat icon equipped it, and I took a few practice swings. Seems solid, it’s not super quick but it’s a strong whack. All three zombies were together, so I blasted my final shotgun round at them to startle all three. This gave me a chance to go around them and backtrack towards the big open room. They were still following me, and I knew I had to kill them because there was nowhere to hide. My only hope was the bat, and I awkwardly swung over and over while backstepping for as long as I could. After 5 solid hits I killed one! I took one second to look down at the corpse and admire my work and FUCK! Another dude grabbed me and it was over with one bite. No button prompt to save me this time.
I only played the demo twice because it was extremely popular. Even after getting in the Wii U area, there was a separate line for Zombi U! The second time I played I found a grenade (it wasn’t in the room the first time), which I foolishly wasted because I was too excited. I threw it at two zombies on some stairs, but the grenade rolled down and exploded at the bottom. After you died you could go back to the body and salvage your previous items, however I didn’t get to do this because I lasted too long. First round I lasted 7 minutes, then 10 minutes on my second play. If I died within 3-4 minutes they would have let me keep playing a second time and I would have approached my dead body.
That’s my Zombi U experience, I would have liked to play more but I still came away with a pretty good idea about the game, and loved every second of it. The controls weren’t amazing but it’s about as good as you can get with analog stick aiming, and fast movement would make it a different game. It’s intense and the structure of the game is what makes it so engaging. The zombies are a genuine threat and if you don’t use your head, the zombies will.