When we first saw footage of ZombiU during the Nintendo E3 Presentation, I was pretty pleased. I’m a fan of zombie games, so I was curious to see what would make this one different from the other zombie titles already out. The demonstration shown gave us a couple of ideas, but it’s something you have to try to really see.
It took Alex and I about an hour of waiting to get to the controller. By the time I finally did, we had seen the entire demo level by watching the people ahead of us. We were given a bit of amusement while we waited by having our faces turned into zombies like Reggie had. It was cool, and a little freaky looking.
I was able to really get a feeling for the dual analog controls as well as the inventory screen and the basic feeling of the game. There weren’t instructions in the demo, but they had a very nice woman and other people helping us out and guiding us through the it. Only a few people actually completed the demo, because the moment you are bitten the game ends. There aren’t any cures, and you become zombie food pretty easily.
The main reason I really wanted to get my hands on ZombiU was to see how using the dual analog sticks on the controller felt. Unlike Alex, today was my first day to see the Wii U controller. It was light, and wasn’t as bulky as I had first imagined. The button placements, as well as the trigger buttons, aren’t uncomfortable either; young children with small hands shouldn’t have any problem despite its size.
In the very beginning of the level, I was guided to scan a crate to find a crossbow. My inventory had a nice pistol and wooden bat, so I decided to switch out the bat to see its targeting system. At first it took me a moment to get used to the scanner, since in order to look down at the ground I had to literally look at the ground with the controller. Alex took a short clip of me getting used to it, and in less than twenty seconds I figured it out in between blowing off a zombie head.
Unlike a few other zombie games, the only way to kill a zombie is to shoot it in the head. Or bash it’s head in repeatedly until it stops moving. I saw a lot of people dying because they neglected to finish the kill, ignoring any zombie survivor’s double tap rule. You can see the zombie man’s head explode after I fired a few shots to his cranium. This definitely is a graphic game that will please those hard core gamers.
After equipping the crossbow, I was able to use the Wii U controller as a scope to fire as seen with the sniper in the demonstration video. This was ideal, because from a hunter’s view it was just like using the scope of one of my rifles or my bow’s sights. I had to lift the controller up and aim at my target using the second screen through the main one. I shot a zombie right in the head, but he ended up chasing me anyways and I ended up changing weapons to finish him off.
This meant I had to switch items, which was easy since flicking my thumb over the top left corner of the touch screen automatically changed my weapons. The use of the tablet controller to customize my inventory and search through my items and the map was as easy as it is on the Nintendo 3DS for other titles. I just had to flip through the screens and drag what I wanted to the correct slots. It didn’t surprise me to see them use the second screen as an inventory and map, but it’s a nice feature that just works.
I didn’t get very far in the demo, but the man who played ahead of me was one of the few who did. The demo has the player run through a nursery, chocked full of zombies around every corner. The player has to find antibiotics, and then escape the nursery alive. With a crazed zombie nurse, and multiple zombies attacking at once, it wasn’t an easy demo. The use of the scanner in the Wii U controller was a key tool in finding ammo and other useful items, as well as searching the corpses of the fallen.
When searching through crates and bodies, the Wii U controller shows the players inventory as well as the object you are searching. There is a take all button, but you can just swipe over what you want. To move around the screens and use the controller’s abilities, you can also swipe up or down for easy access without the use of pressing a button.
All in all, I was extremely impressed with ZombiU. It’s a title that will interest that audience Nintendo was searching for with a new system, and will challenge a hard core gamer. The man in front of us that we were watching was the first we knew of to complete the demo, and he just sprinted past all the zombies and rushed to the end. It was a difficult game, which only fuels my anticipation for the title.