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ZombiU Impressions

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Initial post: Nov 19, 2012, 7:11:17 PM PST
So there has been no secret that I've been looking forward to this game for some time now and it was at the top of my list for games to get when the Wii-U released. I've spent a few hours rolling around the mean streets of London and I'm here to give you my initial thoughts on the game plus I'll be updating this thread tomorrow after I've had some more play time and explored the gameplay mechanics further.

This is survival horror. The ZombiU dev team is quick to point this out as I spawned in and found red text spray painted on the ground telling me this is a survival horror game. Capcom please take note because you've been screwing it up with your last few console releases and this is survival horror done right. You're never going to be a zombie killing badass like you became in Dead Island (for those of you who stuck with it until the end), you're never going to be waist deep in supplies, you're never going to feel safe outside of your safe house, oh and you're going to die. Took me only 30 minutes to lose my first survivor on the first mission. This game is punishingly difficult and it doesn't take the time to hold your hand through a tutorial outside of a brief explanation of a few things when you first get into the game.

Yes you read that right I died within the first half an hour of play. Tried to open a door that activated an alarm pulling every undead baddie within a three block radius right to me and I didn't act fast enough. There was a zombie on the other side of the door which he managed to knock open for me and while trying to deal with him, get inside, and get some distance between me and the incoming horde I was overrun. It didn't take long either for me to go down, three hits was all it took and now that body is shambling around London (or was rather) with my supplies on his back. This was after I slowly made my way up the streets, carefully picking when to fight and when to work my way around the undead, and taking the time to fill my bag with as much loot as I could find.

ZombiU is all about atmosphere and while the graphics might not be the most impressive at all times the game does a great job at making you feel alone and worried about what is around the corner or even in that dark corner you can't see. This game is dark, where Dead Island gave us sunny beaches and plenty of room to roam ZombiU thrusts you into the night with a flashlight (which attracts the undead by the way and the batteries run down as you use it though it does recharge when off) and you're left to find your way through what is left of London. Streets are cluttered with cars, makeshift barrier, trash, and other junk abandoned by those fleeing for their lives. This also make for some very intimate encounters with the zombies.

Fighting is intense and rather nerve racking as your health is extremely precious and shouldn't be taken for granted. One scratch or bite can easily take away a third of your health and screwing up when you swing or how close you get can easily lead to disaster. I tried to blow past the zombie waiting for me on the other side of that door but he wasn't having any of it, much like Gandalf he said I wouldn't pass and I didn't.

You can build barricades but you'll need to find boards and a hammer to do so. Want to pick your way through that locked door? Better find a lock pick. See that weak wall over there? Gonna need some explosives to break through but that's going to attract the undead so you better hope it is worth the use. Supplies are always running low and your backpack doesn't have much room in it. After finding a few sodas, a med kit or two, some ammo, couple of flares, and some planks my inventory was completely full and I was having to manage what was worth it going forward and what wasn't. Do I need this many flares to distract zombies or will I be able to take them out? Sure the soda or energy bar doesn't heal much health but I don't want to use a full health pack for a minor scratch but the next time I get hit it could be be a bad one and that extra health might keep me on my feet long enough to get away.

The radar feature is very nice and also builds tension as well. You manually tap the screen to send out a pulse which scans for any movement, if it gets anything you'll hear a quick ping from the Gamepad and a red dot appears on your screen briefly before fading out. Often I'd tap and watch the pulse go out seeing nothing and thinking I was safe I'd pull my eyes back up to the screen only to hear a ping as it reached the furthest it could. Instantly I'd stop dead and send out another pulse, nervously glancing back at the TV hoping this thing isn't moving towards me only to find it is still a ways away but I'm not sure how to get there.

Why? Because you don't always have a map of the area you're in which means you've got a black screen with your dot in the middle, anything you've marked via your scanner (you can highlight important stuff you can interact with so it is marked on your mini map), and that brief red dot when your motion sensor detects movement. This isn't your motion tracker from Aliens people, which constantly scans on its own, this is something you're in control of and it works very well. Finding your way through the dark streets with no map is very unnerving when you send out that pulse and your screen lights up like a Christmas tree.

One time I freaked out because I sent out a pulse only to find a red dot rushing towards me. Instantly I turned and headed back the way I came sending out another pulse and it is still after me! Reaching a door I opened it and swung around to meet my attacker only to find no where there. It was just a rat. You don't always know what your radar is tracking so this adds to the tension as you might be sneaking up on something that isn't a threat only to miss the zombie (or zombies) standing around not setting off your tracker. If you get too focused in on something it's going to literally bite you in ass because you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings.

Not everything works well though. I don't like how I have to slide my inventory screen upwards to close out of it, feels far slower than just tapping a close button or hitting a button on the controller. A few times I panicked when a zombie came creeping up, swiping at my screen missing the spot because I was too busy looking at my approaching doom. This is needlessly frustrating but something I'm already managing to work past. The whole tapping on stuff to break it or open a manhole (these are shortcuts back to your safe house) feels kind of stupid in my opinion. I've opened a few manholes before and tapping, striking, hitting, or anything like that doesn't get your anywhere. I get what they were trying to do but it feels a little dumb downed from a normal control option just to make use of the screen more.

While scanning you can either pan the Gamepad around the room you're sitting in working as sort of an Augmented Reality experience but you can also use the right stick to look around too. Only problem here is the damn thing is locked into the normal control scheme of up is up and down is down. I play inverted so this is constantly screwing me up and then when I adjust to that I'm thrown off when I go back to aiming because that can be inverted. A minor complaint yes but good lord is it annoying for someone like me who can't get my brain around the concept of up is up and down is down.

So far it has been a few little things like that which have stood out to me as being bad elements but not something which ruins the experience. It's an imperfect system but I'm finding a lot to love here which makes it easier to forgive this minor issues.

This is my kind of game, one that forces you to slow down and think. If you panic or get easily rattled you're one step closer to death. If I hadn't been in such an "Oh crap!" mode when that alarm went off I would have popped a flare, threw it down the street to distract the incoming horde, knocked the zombie back into the room I wanted to go into, then went inside (closing the door behind me) to deal with him. That man would still be alive instead of a corpse in a pile of other corpses I had to dispatch to get my bag back. These are elements I truly love and this makes for a great experience which I haven't had in some time.

Noise attracts zombies, light attracts zombies, you attract zombies just by being alive and moving about. Even when there's nothing around you can still hear the moans and screams of the recently deceased, it's nerve racking as you move through a dark alley and it is slowly getting louder and that bunch of red dots your motion tracker is picking up keeps getting closer as well.

I'll be back tomorrow for more on ZombiU.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012, 7:56:21 PM PST

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012, 7:59:39 PM PST
I'm giving it an Oogy out of Boogy. At first it was going to be a Q out of 12 but I decided to move some points around because of what I mentioned with the Gamepad and the inventory screen.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012, 8:28:24 PM PST
badeggsalad says:
Looking forward to seeing more of your impressions. I'm interested, but not getting much from the reviews out there so far. Very mixed, but I'm leaning towards wanting to pick this up.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012, 8:40:32 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 22, 2013, 5:33:04 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012, 9:02:20 PM PST
I'll definitely be doing more on this in the coming days and will probably do a full scale review once I get through this. This definitely isn't for everyone and I can see how it can be off putting for some especially if they prefer faster paced games. This is one of those games where if you can get into the mindset the developers had while building it you are in for a serious treat.

@ DDustiNN

Thanks dood and no problem, I actually enjoy writing up this kind of stuff so even if no one responded and it was downvoted to hell and back I still had my fun and would continue to update.

The Miiverse feature is pretty cool as well with this, being able to get help from other players, posting screen shots, and more is a very nice touch if you find yourself a little lost or overwhelmed. I've had fun posting around on there and even did up a PvZ doodle with the sunflower and the road cone zombie just to lighten the mood because of all the death lol.

Haven't seen too much in the way of messages left by other players but then I haven't gotten access to the feature yet. I've seen a few messages from the dev team which is pretty cool like the one when you first load in saying "This is a survival horror game by the way ;)" and then another one around the corner issuing a challenge "So who is going to be the first to beat Survival Mode? Scared?!"

Survival mode is going to be brutal to get through because you only live once and if you die back to the start you go.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012, 9:16:37 PM PST
Ham Salad says:
I have seen a few reviews that say combat is repetitive and boring. Video reviews especially have highlighted how slow it is to kill or even hit a zombie with melee weapons, which are the majority of what you're fighting with. They say it also doesn't help since zombies are typically as fast or faster than you so you can't run away, which makes the game focus on combat too much for a survival horror game (especially one with such repetitive combat).

I was thinking of getting this game but am pretty turned off by the reviews. If you could give your thoughts on any of these points in particular I would appreciate it.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012, 9:18:07 PM PST
Damn, might need to try this out. Sent you a friend request Keji.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012, 10:22:26 PM PST
I can see how some might find combat boring and repetitive but for me I find it to be a rather intense and downright challenging at times. Tackling three zombies at once is hard because you're just an average person with a cricket bat trying to crush some skulls (pro tip crushing a skull isn't as easy at it might seem and certainly not as easy as The Walking Dead makes it out to be). For those who say you're forced to fight that isn't really the case. Yes there are encounters you can't avoid but to give you an example coming out of the super market there is a zombie which is making quite a bit of noise and drawing in others. The Prepper tells you to take him out but I said nuts to that and made a break for it. Cleared a barrier and knocked a zombie to the ground before ducking through a hole in the fence to make my way up the alley.

Ended up getting away with lord who knows how many right on my heels and as I took the shortcut back to the safe house they were beating down the door right behind me.

Combat isn't meant to be an easy thing and it is supposed to make you stop and consider all your options. Yes you've got a cricket bat but you've also got other stuff at disposal which will go a long way in keeping you alive. Don't want to deal with that group up ahead? Pop a flare and hurl in the opposite direction you want to go luring them off. Or lure them back the way you came, barricading the door behind you, then circle around taking another route to get to where you wanted to go. This game rewards exploration though exploration isn't always an easy task. I've already found a few routes that take me through the same areas but keep me well out of harm's way however these paths might also end up right in front of a zombie instead of giving you a chance to sneak up on them.

I've also taken down a few zombies in a single blow, it seems to be luck of the draw in some ways but also I think it has a lot to do with how you position yourself and how often you're swinging. I've noticed my character starts panting and gets winded the more time I spend in combat so I tend to back off, catch my breath, and then come back in for the kill and I notice a power difference.

Combat is definitely a slower process than other games but that is the speed of this game though. I'm not sure what reviewers are talking about with combat being dull because you get two or more of these things on you there's a good chance you'll be joining their ranks unless you play your cards right. You have to know when to stand your ground, when to fall back, where to fall back to, and what items would be most effective at that time.

@ Punk

I got it and added ya dood.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012, 11:49:53 AM PST
GarionOrb says:
Okay...I want to buy this game now.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012, 11:50:55 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012, 11:52:45 AM PST
Edit: Sorry! Wrong game!

Posted on Nov 20, 2012, 11:52:36 AM PST
My ZombiU impression:

Mnnarrrgh brains rrraaarrrr bloody brains rraaawwwwwrr

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012, 11:54:31 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012, 11:55:46 AM PST
Kirksplosion says:
"Not everything works well though. I don't like how I have to slide my inventory screen upwards to close out of it, feels far slower than just tapping a close button or hitting a button on the controller."

I watched the Giant Bomb Quick Look a couple hours ago, and I was actually really surprised to see how quickly the "slide" motion was to open and close inventory. Looked smooth like butter. For an action that isn't just a button press, I'd have expected it to take a smidge longer, but it seemed to react immediately for Klepek.

Quick Look made the game look pretty good. I'd definitely get it if I were an early adopter.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012, 12:10:38 PM PST
Ann Perkins says:
Still not feeling it.

Still feeling the burn from the original Wii.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012, 12:13:45 PM PST
MrFoxhound says:
Combat seems to be a lot like Silent Hill. You are just some guy who is thrown into this situation and you have no training or skills.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012, 12:29:46 PM PST
Bionix01 says:
i agree 100% the game is great. It really is true survival horror. I played at night and was actually scared by a game in a long time. It is not holding your hand like most games these days.

I love how you mention not being over powered and zombies being a real threat in this. I remember when my first house was attacked i killed 3 zombies bursting through a door then saw 2 more through another and said man how many of these things are there.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012, 12:50:21 PM PST
It works well enough but there are a few buttons on the controller which aren't used so it would have been nice to see the option to hit a button to open your backpack and close it. Typically the only time I have problems with it is when something is baring down on me and I'm not really looking at where I'm swiping or I don't swipe long enough so it stays open. The more I'm playing the more accustomed I become to it.

@ MrFoxhound

Pretty much, the first guy you start off as is basically wandering the streets when the Prepper sees him and basically saves him from being overrun. The guy is like 30 and is an IT specialists or something like that. Plus London has been overrun for quite some time and these survivors have barely been getting by. The shops you find are all picked clean outside of a few items here and there. The homes you walk through are all trashed and were looted long ago.

This game does a lot to remove any sense of power you might have. Earlier I felt I was pretty stocked on ammo so I threw a full bundle into my item box at my safe house only to have a horde of zombies (I started a new game this morning after I fell asleep playing last night resulting in a stupid death while trying to get back to the safe house) come barreling through the station. Ended up taking out like 15 of them and if I hadn't used my pistol that survivor would be dead right now. So now I'm back to low ammo, decent amount of healing supplies, and I'm looking high and low for anything useful.

Also discovering that some of the people who have been playing this in reviews don't really pay attention. If you hold down your attack button when you've got a zombie on the ground or climbing over something you can do an instant kill. I'm learning how to use obstacles to help juggle zombies and make them easier to kill by forcing them to crawl under stuff or over something to get at me. Not only does this limit how many can approach me at once but it makes them easier to kill. Knowing your surroundings goes a long way in keeping your ass alive and I've learned that lesson the hard way.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2013, 6:19:13 AM PDT
Xavier 7 says:
Keji, it was because of this post that I plunked down some cash for this game. After the mediocre professional reviews and a poor demo and I was a bit hesitant to grab this title, even though I was initially excited for it.

Anyway, I spent about six hours playing it over the weekend. This game is fantastic! Classic survival horror is back. Also, the Demon's Souls mechanic of consequential results of dying is totally fitting in this game, as are the tips spraypainted by other players. I cannot recommend this title enough to other Wii U owners.

Posted on Apr 1, 2013, 6:51:55 AM PDT
S. Brown says:
The game definitely scares you because it's so easy to die. It's a decent game that has it's strong points, but to me it got a bit repetitive after a few hours of play. It never quite got its hooks in, so-to-speak.

It was a cool showcase of what the WiiU's unique hardware could do on a FPS, but ultimately it's a fair-to-midland title, in my opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2013, 6:52:47 AM PDT
Xavier 7 says:
Hmm, maybe I'm at that point where it is still interesting. It definitely has its hooks in me right now.
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Initial post:  Nov 19, 2012
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