Preview: ZombiU once again instills my faith in the survival horror genre
At a small hands-on event presented by Nintendo, I was finally able to get some play time with both ZombiU's single player and multiplayer modes. I won't go too in-depth about the single player portion since it's the same that we've got to see at E3 this year, however playing through it did raise a few questions and answered some as well.
Quite possibly the best thing ZombiU has going for it, besides its unique controls that combine the efforts of the Gamepad, is the environment. A zombie infested London is bloody scary, and the game's tutorial mission tries its hardest to freak you out. Case in point, the first place you'll enter is a nursery. Now I don't have to tell you just how freaky a nursery filled with undead zombies can get. It psyches you out with constant imagery of cute drawings, shapes hung up from the ceiling and toys scattered around. The fact that you're constantly on edge, fearing that an undead zombie baby is about to jump out at you is truly a testament to the survival horror genre, and one that I hope carries through the entire game.
Visibility is also absolutely minimal. Armed with a flashlight and a handgun, you're left pretty vulnerable. Not to mention ammo is very scarce as well, essentially forcing you to conserve bullets until you're absolutely sure that you can score that headshot and take out incoming zombies with as few shots as possible. Adding to the tension are some scripted events where your flashlight tends to flicker, leaving you in complete darkness. I'm hoping that this sort of thing ends up happening more frequently and not scripted, making the player dread every step.
The fact that you're constantly on the lookout for zombies is yet another terrific aspect that's sure to keep you on your toes. Whenever you're required to use the Gamepad, whether for looting, scanning or lockpicking, the TV screen displays what's going on behind your character. Sometimes you'll be required to stop what you're doing, only to dispatch a zombie that's walking toward you. ZombiU tries its hardest to keep you on edge and very tense and in that regard, it completely succeeds.
One of the only questions, that sadly was never completely answered was how ZombiU works as a whole. Does the game turn more open world once you're done with the initial tutorial nursery stage, or does the game remain more mission based with a strange radio voice guiding your every move? Is there one personal goal per character that you play, or is every playthrough centered around a unified goal? To a lot of gamers, whether the game plays a certain way will undoubtedly be a dealbreaker, however it's important to note that regardless of how the entire game plays, it's extremely tense and fun at the same time.