One of the most highly anticipated Wii U launch titles, ZombiU was not quite what some people were expecting. Depending upon what you might’ve been hoping for from the zombie shooter, you could either have been delightfully surprised or a little disappointed. Since the release, the game has seen mixed reviews, but is that due to the quality of the game or mismatched expectations?
For me personally, I happen to fall into the camp of folks that are really enjoying Ubisoft’s new survival horror title. With a decent number of people having the opposite opinion, I took to trying to figure out why. With a bit of further investigation, I discovered that most people were hoping for one game and quite a different one was delivered to their console. While some people may have been looking forward to a fast-paced zombie blasting shooter, they instead got a slow and deliberate, atmospheric survival horror game.
Zombie games, while having a very rich history, have been done more often than they should. In most games, when offing some undead, it’s rather easy to to take out a large number of them. One of the first things I noticed about ZombiU is that you’re put in a very different situation. Coming across one zombie is not a huge deal as long as you’re on your toes, two zombies is doable, but a little more difficult and three or more and you need to have a very clear plan in mind.
The game uses the standard zombie movie rule of one bite and your dead. While I have had few encounters that ended somewhat unexpectedly with my demise, it hasn’t felt unfair at any point. As you approach each situation, the game gives you several tools to make sure that you’re able to slow down and plan carefully. While this doesn’t lend itself to a bombastic undead shootout, it’s the true survival horror game that people have been wanting.
It’s been a while since a game has been able to really shake me up. Walking through the environment of ZombiU, I’ll find myself being very careful. Every once in a while, the game will lull me into a false sense of security by not having any zombies for a while. Just when I stop using my sonar to detect nearby undead, I’ll round a corner and a ghoul will be staring me in the face. This creates an amazing amount of tension that I haven’t experienced in a game for a long time.
While folks have gotten used to the Left 4 Dead style of zombie killing, this game is much more like a first-person version of the Resident Evil series. Gather all the supplies you can hold and set out against odds that are not in your favor. Treat all of your supplies with respect and horde them all into a giant box. While there is no master of unlocking or Jill sandwiches in this game, the formula is still there and I’m glad to see it back again after so long.
So, if you were hoping for a more fast-paced game, please reset your expectations and give ZombiU one more try. It might not be the game you thought it was, but it’s a solid version of what it really ended up being.