The lights are on
I went in to buy my WiiU on launch day knowing that I was getting Mario U. That was obvious. My second game was ZombiU because I wanted games exclusive to the WiiU, not ports. Before getting the game I read reviews and at that time it seemed the game was doing poorly. I talked about it with my wife and she told me to get the game because I had been anticipating it for awhile, and wanted Wii U exclusives for my first outing with the console. I'm glad she talked me into it, even though the game has it's flaws.
One of the main draws of the game is supposed to be the survivor aspect. You play as a survivor who is introduced to the Prepper, a man who will be barking at you through your Gamepad. Your survivor will have his/her own version of this called the Prepper pad. The Prepper guides you to a Safehouse that will be your home base. He helps you prepare by introducing you to the CCTV network, which allows you to scan junction boxes which provides you with maps and other goodies, as well as starts your journey. Eventually this leads you to meeting a doctor trying to find a cure, and the Ravens of Dee, who are fanatics of John, a famous philosopher. This leads to doing more things instead of just surviving, like helping out the doc gather materials and letters. Really it's just more reasons to explore more areas and smash more zombie skulls.
You have a health bar, but you can be turned into a zombie with a full health bar if one gets close enough. This pissed me off a couple times because I felt like it was a premature death. Then you start a new survivor, who spawns at the safe house, and you go hunt down your dead self to get your gear back. If you don't, or if you don't loot the corpe and it disappears, everything is gone, including all weapons, except for a pistol cause you always start with that. The guns to respawn over time though.
Most of the game is played looking at a small circle of lit up area in front of you provided by a flash light. While annoying at first you get used to it and almost appreciate it because if you look into bright light, whether light bulbs or the sky, there's this grainy filter over the screen. This too is annoying but I found it easy to ignore and just grew used to it. Whatever you do as you're wondering around London, don't look too close at any textures. The game is ugly. Textures are blurry and undetailed. Corners are sharp points, and be prepared to see some of the same areas over and over. Not because you'll visit them, but because several of the underground rooms are used repeatedly through the game. This better not be an indication of the power of the WiiU or a sign that it's hard to develop for.
Melee combat is clunky, but it works. You have to hold down a trigger to raise your bat to swing. Otherwise you just shove zombies away. You can usually easily down two zombies at a time with your bat, but it takes too many hits. When fighting one zombie it turns into a bore because each zombie reacts the same: swing and hit, zombie steps back, growls, comes at you again. Once you find the rhythm it's easy and repetive. Though I stuck with this a lot to conserve ammo. Gunplay was a lot better which a decent assortment of weapons including pistols, shotguns, and assualt rifles.
The game does a good job of providing a scary atmosphere, considering all of the darkness. Though honestly while it provides a bit of suspense, it does not really provide too many scares. I think the thing that scared me the most is when I was walking through some catacombs and my dog barked. Scared the hell out of me, so I guess it does a good job of pulling you into the game.
The gamepad is used for inventory management, and personally I had no problems dragging the icons around. The top left and right corners had three spots for weapons or health that you could use anytime. The gamepad is also your map and has a ping that searches for living(?) creatures. It shows locations of zombies, but also animals and it doesn't differentiate. This thing is a life saver and almost takes away the horror aspect because you usually know what's around you. The gamepad is also a scanner. By holding down L the screen shows what is on the TV and lets you scan your surroundings for items and dead things. I didn't mind doing this as long as I used the right stick to look around. I'm not the kind to move around in circles IRL to do it in game.
It's really hard to suggest this to others. It's slow, repetitive, and ugly. Also being that it's a horror game, that limits the audience. However, if you're looking for something unique and a game that shows off what the WiiU can do with the gamepad and you enjoy a decent amount of suspense this is definately something worth looking into to. Just don't expect the blockbuster that the hype made it out to be.
I give this game 7.5 zombies out of 10. Just keep in mind that half a zombie can still bite.