So, recently, I got to experience the closest thing to a zombie survival game in a while. And that game is called DayZ. The game has some very large rough spots for sure, but its head is in the right place. It’s an Arma II mod, and it’s something you might want to check out.
Oh, I guess I’m supposed to be talking about ZombiU now. Well, in that case…..
ZombiU is a zombie survival/horror game as a Wii U exclusive. It’s probably a game that’s going to pass itself as the most hardcore exclusive on the system right now. It’s got some good ideas and it’s at least trying different things. So, I imagine there are going to be quite a few people who are interested in seeing how this game turns out.
And you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever been pissed off this badly at a game before. I mean, holy ****! For the few things this game gets right, everything else just goes WRONG! The sad thing is, I actually want to like this game because it’s at least trying new things. To put it lightly, this is not a very enjoyable game at all! To put it not so lightly, well…..
A Survival/Horror Game that doesn’t know Survival/Horror
I’ll admit, I don’t normally play Survival/Horror games. There’s only been a couple that I’ve played though, and I’ve immensely enjoyed them. Amnesia: The Dark Descent remains to be one of my favorite games and Lone Survivor has built up to be a really nice game in the long run. So, I can at least point out why those games are good and what ultimately makes them survival/horror games.
With ZombiU, it gets some things right. The controls are purposefully clunky so you are disadvantaged in combat meaning that you should try other things than to attempt to mow down wave after wave of Zombies. Ammo is scarce and your main weapon is a cricket bat, which takes about 6 hits to kill most of the zombie folk. There were even times when I was genuinely sared because of this vulnurability. All of this helps give the player a sense of being a survivor kind of character rather than an action hero like in Left 4 Dead.
So, while the mechanics in this game seem to do a really good job of providing a survivor game, the gameplay itself pretty much destroys it. The game acts like it still wants you to be an action hero zombie killer. There were so many times where I kept on getting attacked by hoards of zombies, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it besides fend them off only to delay my inevitabile death.
The thing with survival/horror games is that running and hiding should at least be an option most of the time. You can force the player to face certain challenges no matter what, but most of the time, it’s a good idea to allow the player to hide in a dark corner and cry to himself until the monster goes away. This game never really lets you do that. In fact, the game forces heavy combat onto the player even though going through the game in this way is a really bad idea. You’ll have to defend your safehouse and survive while running through areas where the game would almost feel like a run-and-gun shooter if the game was built for that. I’m not joking about that, it’s honestly what the game makes you to do even though the game wasn’t built at all for heavy combat.
I don’t think the problems in this game to be that bothersome if the game had some sort of checkpoint system. This brings up another one of the interesting things this game has going for yet it just does so terribly. The thing is, in this game, you are going to die. In fact, you are going to die several times. And what does the game do when you die? Why, it sends you all the way back to the starting point as a new survivor with all of your equipment gone, and you get it all back by killing your previous self who is now a zombie.
I’ve heard this game compared to Dark Souls because of its relentless checkpoint system, but while Dark Souls has tight controls, more than one checkpoint, and is a combat heavy game where dying doesn’t carry as much weight, ZombiU doesn’t have anything to counter its unforgiving nature. The reason why dying in this game doesn’t work like in Dark Souls is because you don’t have any of your items anymore when you transfer to a new character, making the situations where you died even harder. It makes progressing in this game dreadful, which is not a good thing to say about any kind of game.
There is an even harder mode called survival where once you die, you die. You don’t come back as another survivor, you have to restart at the beginning of the game. This was the first thing I tried and I died whenever the game decided it wanted to be an action game and when I realized that this game does not give you anywhere to hide. I do kind of like the idea, but I don’t think it exactly works in a game like this. The reason why DayZ can get away with sending you back to the start with nothing is because it’s a multiplayer game and it’s based on how long you can survive rather than a game like this where progress is really important and there’s an end to the game. Though, this game does like to brag about the fact that there are people who beat this game in survival mode. If they are going to have a mode like this, then at least give us an option to where if we die we can keep our stuff…. maybe?
The story is, thankfully, kept pretty simple. There’s this prophecy that foretold this Zombie apocalypse and you’re a survivor communicating with another survivor who was prepared for this and he just happens to know what’s going on as well. That’s pretty much it. You’ll meet a couple of other different characters and there are some notes that will fully explain the Black Prophecy, but it’s pretty pointless since you’re seeing the aftermath. Also, the whole thing was caused by a bunch of Scientists. See guys? It didn’t take that much work to create a story that actually makes sense, didn’t it?
Killing Zombies….with a Wii U Controller!
There are actually things that this game does get somewhat right. Make no mistake, this game absolutely fails at being any good, but it does do some interesting things.
The big thing with this game, of course, is the gamepad controller and how it works. You use it to manage your inventory. The game doesn’t pause when you sit down to manage what’s in your back pack, but the interface is really smooth that you can work really quickly with it. You can also use it for a quick selection on the weapons you have during the main game as the main buttons are on the upper corners of the screen. Using your inventory, you can select which items you can use for your quick button selection. It’s pretty nifty, and probably one of the best ways this controller is being utilized so far for a single-player experience.
Some of the weapons you obtain in the game use the Wii U screen for your zooming function like with a sniper-rifle. You zoom in and you look at your gamepad to see through your scope. You also use it to aim as you move the game pad around for some precision aiming. It’s honestly really good!
The gamepad also provides a map, which helps you scan areas of enemies, but this isn’t exactly the best place to put the map. A game map should be readily visible if it wants to show you a map at all, and its not good if you have to keep on taking your eyes off of the main TV screen. I know I was constantly switching back and forth to make sure I wasn’t going to run into any zombies along the way. The question is what they could have used it for instead of a map, to which I have to say, “Well, it could have been a good time to be one of those games for you to play while your TV is off, or on a different channel like in that one Mario game.” This isn’t exactly one of those games that would benefit from having two different functions with the gamepad controller.
Probably the best use out of the controller is the multiplayer aspect. In fact, the multiplayer might be the best part of the game in some sense, even if it just serves as a minor distraction. The guy using the TV screen, either with a pro game controller or a Wii-mote setup, plays as a survivor who shoots all the zombies while the guy using the Wii U gamepad spawns the zombies and controls them through this RTS kind of set up. It barely touches on what the Wii U controller is capable of as a controller for main game experiences in this mode, but it’s a really good use out of the controller either way. I don’t exactly see people playing the multiplayer game for more than a couple of rounds, but it does hit on things on what the Wii U can do.
This game has good ideas going for it, but it ultimately doesn’t even seem to know what it’s doing when it comes to this kind of game. For every two seconds I thought I was enjoying it, the game threw a curve ball at me and made sure I died. It has some of the best uses I’ve seen for the Wii U controller I’ve played so far, it’s just that if the game was any good, it would have been something pretty special. Instead, what it ends being is a frustrating and irritating experience. And what’s sad is that there was a pretty good template to base this game off of called Lone Survivor where it has the same kind of things going for it. Though, Lone Survivor recognized that it’s not supposed to be a combat game when its focusing on survival. ZombiU is not the worst game I’ve played this year, but it was really close.
With all of that said though, there is some part of me that’s wanting to say you should at least give this game a try. Don’t go out and blindly buy it though. Rent it, borrow it from a friend, buy it used from Gamestop so you can turn it back in if it turns out you don’t like it, just approach this game with severe caution. The reason why I say this game might be worth checking out is because it looks like some people are genuinely enjoying this game and it does do things differently enough that does warrant some sort of experience with this game. So, while it’s not a good game…at all, it’s at least intriguing.
BOG’s ZombiU Review Score: 2.0
Why So High? It has interesting ideas and decent uses for the Wii U Gamepad
Why So Low? It’s a game that wants to be a survival game yet doesn’t know how to work it which makes this game work really, really badly