Wii U launch title ZombiU is coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC and is causing quite the commotion among those who played what is a bit of an overlooked gem on Nintendo’s equally overlooked console. All six of them. The rest of you are probably wondering “Why should I get excited about this game? I mean, REALLY?”. After all, Gamespot gave it 45/100 - that's BELOW AVERAGE. Well, this page has a load of reasons you should be looking to check out Zombi (now without the U) when it finally gets released on PSN and the Xbox Marketplace in the next week or so.
Zombi has you cutting about a post-apocalyptic, undead filled London. This isn’t some futuristic or stylised version of the city, but actual factual London. You spend the first few hours of the game cutting about Shoreditch with a cricket bat, cracking skulls. Let’s be honest here, who hasn’t wanted to do that? Eventually, you’re fighting zombies all over the city, even inside Buckingham palace in what is a particularly surreal stage, trying to uncover what exactly happened to cause this outbreak in the first place. Your mileage may vary with this setting if you don’t live in London, but as someone who lives in East London, I thought it was rad having to leg it into Whitechapel station to avoid being torn apart by an undead horde - JUST LIKE SATURDAY NIGHT EH LADS LADS LADS?
In what remains one of the best uses of Nintendo’s Wii U Gamepad, ZombiU forced you to manage your inventory using the Gamepad’s screen, meaning that you had to look away from the main TV screen you were playing on, meaning you weren’t paying full attention to whether or not a sneaky zombie was about to eat your neck meat. Finding an abandoned backpack full of useful items is suddenly a nerve wracking experience as you use the touchscreen to move items into your possession, looking up at the TV suddenly at even the slightest noise. Quite how they intend to make this work on PS4 and Xbox One is anyone’s guess, but you’d think that they would at least find some kind of decent substitution for this, as it is a pretty key part of the Zombi experience.
You don’t have the most original arsenal in Zombi, but how you have to use it is what makes it interesting. Sure, there’s a whole variety of rifles, machine guns and shotguns scattered around the city just waiting for you to pick them up, but actually firing them is a decision that mustn’t be taken lightly. Ammo is scarce and many weapons share it, so you can easily find yourself out of bullets when you need them the most. Also, firing off a shotgun blast on the empty streets of London only really serves as a dinner bell, attracting any undead in the area to your position. Sure, firearms are the easiest way to stop a zombie in it’s tracks, but you have to make sure you’re ready to deal with the consequences. Maybe lay a few landmines and wait for them to come? Silenced weapons are like unicorn spunk but absolute lifesavers if you come across one. Failing that, you’ve always got your trusty cricket bat - the game’s default weapon - so you can swing that about like a homicidal Ian Botham if the shit really hits the fan.
The big one. Zombi handles death in a similar way to a lot of the popular ‘roguelike-likes’ that you can’t move on PSN for these days. At the start of the game, you’re generated a character - name, age, sex, race and occupation they held before everything kicked off. You don’t choose any of this, it is a totally random process. Now, should you die on one of your missions, that’s it. That character is dead. Well, un-dead, more to the point. You respawn as another totally random character back at the Whitechapel Station base camp, only without any of the items and weapons you were carrying at the time of death. That’s because your previous self is shambling around with that stuff still in their backpack. You’ve got to fight your way to them, beat them to actual death and reclaim your stuff. There’s also a Dark Souls-esque mechanic where your dead characters are shared across your friend’s list, so you may find a zombie version of one of a mate’s characters in your game, backpack filled with excellent loot ready for the taking.
The most overused and boring setup for a game - the zombie apocalypse. It’s easy, because it provides lazy devs with a near-infinite supply of simple enemies for the player to blast away at with weapons. Zombi takes a slightly different approach. The zombies are to be avoided as they’re unrelenting killers, like a rotting Terminator, who can only be stopped by the total destruction of the brain. As long as they’re still able to move, they will try to eat you. A one-on-one fight takes a lot of care to avoid damage and get away alive. Two-on-one and you’re likely going to die, or escape and need to cure badly. Any more than that and it is time to break out the best weaponry you have, otherwise you’re definitely going to get killed. As you get through the game and become more skilled, it is easy to get a bit cocky and bite off a bit more zombie than you can chew, resulting in you yourself getting your face chewed. The zombies in Zombi remind me of the hordes found in Romero’s movies - there’s no heroes carving their way through swaths of them. In fact, almost everyone who ends up in an encounter with them ends up walking among them.