… and was most definitely ZombiU, hands down. It wasn’t even close. Granted, most of my time thus far has been entirely with Nintendo products, but even still, the game has the makings of greatness. Not only did the game scare the pants off of me at some points, but the game was so polished that you would think it was ready for release tomorrow.
The game takes place in a 2012 zombie infested London and puts you in the role of a survivor where you are tasked with, well, surviving. One of the most interesting aspects in Ubisoft’s undead adventure is the way the company handles ‘fail states’. If you are bitten by a zombie at anytime, you will immediately become an infected after which you will be respawned as another survivor somewhere else on the map. Your next task, if you value your previous possessions, will be to find, and kill your undead former self and take the items from your backpack. This bag is known as a ‘Bug Out Bag’, and will contain all you key items such as weapons, tools, and keycards.
Everything in the game happens in real-time. When you swipe the touch screen to open up your bag, the game will not pause but rather your on screen character will kneel down frantically shuffling through their packpack searching for items as in real life you are fiddling the on screen items. The touchscreen GamePad is so integrally implemented in the design of the game, such as inventory management and an environmental scanner, that it is easy to see that ZombiU was made for Wii U from the ground up. In my talk with co-creative director Jean-Philippe Caro, he even told me as much.
The most interesting aspect of my talk with Caro was the fact that it was Nintendo that approached Ubisoft about making the game, and not the other way around. In fact, when Ubisoft first created the game in the form of last year’s Killer Freaks From Outer Space, Nintendo wanted the game to be more violent and mature, showing that this time around Nintendo is really pushing for that hardcore audience.
Other interesting aspects of the game include the voice in your ear called the prepper. Think of the prepper as a survivalist, one that has specifically prepared for the ongoing zombie apocalypse. He will guide your character through the environment, and give you advice about what to do in the world to survive. I get the feeling that this prepper has an ulterior motive, but we will learn more about that as the game inches closer to release.
Aside from the fantastic single player mode on display, there was also an interesting multiplayer competitive mode as well. In this mode the player with the GamePad has a birds of view of the entire map on the tablet screen, while the second player plays with the Wii U Pro Controller. The player with the Pro Controller plays the traditional role of survivor, as the player with the GamePad drops zombies in the environment in an attempt to kill the survivor. This form of multiplayer was an interesting take on competitive multiplayer because the player with the GamePad does not necessarily have to be a ‘hardcore’ gamer to do well against their opponent. I can see this mode being quite fun between a couple for example, especially when the boyfriend isn’t as hardcore about gaming as girl. Hey, there are girl gamers too folks!
You’re going to want ZombiU. Heck, I want ZombiU right now. If I were forced to only choose one game at the launch of Wii U later this year, it would most certainly be this one. Ubisoft has simply had a stellar outing at this year’s show, and in my opinion, ZombiU was the cream of the crop.