The lights are on
ZombiU is a tough game to recommend. Not because it's horrible and certainly not because it's GotY worthy. When I tell someone they should play ZombiU I first need to find out what kind of games they've enjoyed in the past. If you're the type that plays every shooter that releases in a year, then perhaps you would find the combat a bit clunky. While if you're the type that only buys the occasional shooter, like Half Life 2 and Dishonored, then you might be able to look past the controls and enjoy the game for everything else it gets right.
Every new feature that ZombiU has is almost guaranteed to be showing off a GamePad concept. Some of these could be hit and miss; scanning for clues can be as tedious as Metroid Prime after the first couple of hours. However others, like inventory management or using your scanner to locate zombies, can be a lot of fun throughout. The scanner in particular adds an element of fear without relying on jump scares like so many other survival horror games. Seeing 3-4 red dots pop up just around the next corner is enough to make any man stiffen up, but when you cautiously turn off your flashlight and tiptoe around to take a peak, only to find a pack of rats, you can't help but be on edge for the next batch of scans you perform. Just don't ever let your guard down because you think a small clump of red has to be a rat pack.
Other elements, like looting corpses and containers in real time, are well implemented to add another layer of fear. Some may think it gets repetitive when you have to organize your inventory while being chased by hungry monsters, however I felt it was worth the minor frustrations of potential death.
Overall I think ZombiU is a fantastic showing of what the Wii U is capable of doing in the future. A few minor problems aside with the slow-to-kill combat not withstanding and I'd say this is close to a must buy during launch. Even more so when it lowers in price. The one thing we're almost guaranteed to have is a sequel at some point, so perhaps Ubisoft can fix some of the issues that people are finding cumbersome, while keeping the same tense and exciting gameplay for others that enjoyed it this time around.
Thanks a lot for the review! It made me feel safer in my purchase of the game, and the main aspects you spoke of that saves the game are the reasons I bought it.
I'll see if I pick it up, or maybe play it over at a friends house. I do like the idea of the real time management of the inventory and looting, etc. It's the things that I liked most about Dead Space and Dead space 2 along with Deus Ex: Human Revolution (although I must finish that game...). Nothing pulls you into the game more than having to do stuff in real time instead of going into your inventory, the game pauses, and then you heal to max health. Thank you for your view of the game.
I think a lot, like way too many, reviewers are completely missing the concept of ZombiU, which makes me doubt they understand video games at all--or lack the ability to get past broken pre-conceived notions.
This isn't Left 4 Dead, this isn't Dead Rising, and it isn't even Resident Evil. They've managed to create a completely different flavor zombie game and it works.
While this isn't the most in-depth review, it catches one major point perfectly--tapping the radar and seeing 2-3 red dots show up moving in the vicinity. This game creates a horror atmosphere with beautiful pacing that doesn't try to cheapen the experience with jump scares. Those may have worked for Dead Space 1, but were predictable to a fault in the sequel (with it's dull and aggravating shooting gallery segments). You are unlikely to ever just run straight through any area of ZombiU. You're going to treat it very much like a real zombie apocalypse--you're going to play it slowly, methodically, and carefully. You're going to analyze your scenerios and options, and you're going to explore to stay alive.
I think that any reviewer giving this below a 60 has, quite simply, missed the point of the game entirely.