Update: Trailer and screens added.
Nintendo has been trumpeting ZombiU as the new hardcore Wii U title to keep your eyes on. The premier Wii U title is a brand-new, blood-soaked FPS that shows off all the new tech of Nintendo’s brand new console. I spent some time with the single-player campaign, foraging for supplies and fighting off zombies in the punishing survival horror title.
The demo begins in a post-apocalyptic parking lot littered with smoldering vehicles and dead bodies. You lift and aim the Wii U controller to scan the environment for enemies, ammo, and other supplies. The controller’s built-in screen displays the environment, allowing you to move it around to hunt for goodies. You can also page through your inventory and equip weapons using the touchscreen. Interacting with the Wii U controller reminded me of using the DS’s touchscreen to manage inventories. It’s a familiar feeling and fits in well with the console experience.
A handful of zombies roam the ruined lot. Using the Wii U controller’s analog sticks to line up deadly headshots feels natural, whether you’re plucking away with pistol rounds, blasting off heads with a shotgun, or dialing in crossbow bolts. Certain weapons, such as the crossbow, can be lined up in a way similar to the scanning mechanism. Pulling off headshots using the controller’s motion control is satisfying, but isn’t very safe when a bunch of flesh-eaters are shambling your way. I never faced more than seven or eight zombies at once, leading me to believe ZombiU will feature far fewer onscreen enemies than games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Island.
What the zombies lack in numbers, they make up for in lethality. One hit from a zombie can kill you. Medkits are available and undead-neutralizing syringes can be used to instantly dispatch an enemy, but a direct attack will cut you down in no time. Succumbing to the infection doesn’t mean game over, though. Your character becomes a zombie when you die, and you then spawn as a new survivor in a safehouse who must track down and kill your former self to regain supplies. This twist keeps the game moving, and there’s something morbidly awesome about putting zombie-you out of its misery.
ZombiU packed a few other surprises as well. I fought a zombie that could disappear and teleport, keeping me guessing where it would materialize. I cornered myself by a locked door and fumbled with a lockpicking game on the controllers screen as zombies stumbled after me. I was even scanning the corpse of a fallen foe when its grisly face popped onto the Wii Us screen. Playing a horror game on a crowded show floor isn’t the best way to set the mood. However, ZombiU’s emphasis on survival and interacting with controller’s touchscreen while zombies encroach has me hopeful it’ll be much scarier once I get alone with the game. Keep your eyes on Game Informer for a look at ZombiU’s multiplayer mode.