ZombiU journal - entry one

So it took me a little while to really get into the mood to play ZombiU, but now that I’ve actually made a bit of progress with the campaign, I can say that it’s classic survival horror in the most literal sense. It’s been quite linear so far, sure, but there’s a tense atmosphere about it, thanks to a number of factors. First off, you cannot save wherever/whenever you like. You have to find a sleeping bag, your main save location being the subway safe house you will return to after each mission. However, in Metroid fashion, you can also locate small safe houses set a little out of the way in the otherwise zombie-filled streets of London. Saving at these spots can save you a solid chunk of time that would otherwise be spent performing the trial-and-error process of retracing your steps through zombie territory.

The limited number of slots in your backpack and the fact that you have to pause the game in order to swap out items in your immediate inventory add to the tension. You’ll need to smack each zombie a few times with the cricket bat before they are dead, making it more ideal for one-on-one encounters than fighting off a group. While you can scavenge for ammo, grenades, and moltov cocktails, these are few and far between and you’ll want to reserve them for large groups.

The game looks quite good overall, too. Some of the textures aren’t great and certain in-game objects don’t appear to have a significant step-up on games from last generation’s consoles. But the environments are fantastic in both scope and presentation. Whether it’s specks of dust obscuring your vision ever so slightly, moonlight shining down through grates into London’s old sewers, or a downpour streaming off the sides of industrial crates, ZombiU’s various areas are both interesting to take in and highly successful at immersing you in this contemporary apocalypse. It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are unique assets in abandoned apartments and grocery stores to help set them apart from traditional barricaded areas, abandoned vehicles, broken fences, etc. The controls really aid the immersion as well, and I’m glad to see that developers other than Nintendo are doing great things with the gamepad so early on in the Wii U’s life cycle.

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