Enroll at Zombi University - Preview

By Alex St-Amour, June 7, 2012

Survival-horror comes to the Wii U in a big way with Zombi U from Ubisoft, a new first person shooter that tests how long you can survive the zombie apocalypse. The game promises to deliver intense action to Nintendo’s new system as well as an innovative take on the well trodden ground that is the zombie apocalypse. So how does Ubisoft’s undead undertaking fare? Read on to find out.

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The hands-on demo that Ubisoft brought to E3 tasked players with making their way through a zombi (with no ‘e’, like the Italians do it) infested London searching for an antidote. From what’s been revealed so far the game appears to be light on the story elements, instead focusing on action and new gameplay mechanics via the Wii U Gamepad.

From a gameplay perspective Zombi U definitely owes a lot to the Left 4 Dead series in that survival is the only real objective. Where Zombi U differentiates itself is that after just one bite from a zombie, you’re dead. Instead of respawns the game instead focuses on high scores and replayability. One cool addition is that if you do succumb to an undead you will encounter your old character, now a zombie, and if you manage to kill him (again) you will be able to loot back your old gear.

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 In my playthrough I was introduced to the most important part of the Zombi U experience, the Wii U Gamepad’s screen. Not only does the new controller’s touch screen make switching through your inventory a breeze but several other new gameplay mechanics help make the whole game much more immersive. This ranges from small things like using the controller’s accelerometers to scan items a la Metroid Prime to using the screen as a sniper rifles zoom, and includes what is probably Zombi U’s best feature, hacking. All the hacking is done on the touch screen, forcing you to look away from the TV and possible zombie attacks. It’s while you are trying to pick locks and hack into key pads that the music gets creepy, your heart starts beating and you really do experience fear and panic.

On the visual front, Zombi U is definitely an impressive title. The environments are large and varied and offer multiple paths for you to explore. The demo also featured some pretty impressive weather effects as rain poured down and lightning strikes shown through rubble and windows, adding even more tension to the affair. My only real complaint with the game’s presentation is that some of the textures seem incomplete, something I’m sure will be ironed out once the game finally releases.

All in all I left the Zombi U booth pleased with the undead apocalypse that Ubisoft was preparing for the Wii U. The gameplay may seem familiar at first, but once you get your hands on the Wii U Gamepad and see and experience for yourself what this ‘asymmetric’ gameplay thing is all about you will definitely be a believer.

Stay tuned to gamrReview for all your E3 2012 coverage.

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