Wii U Hands On: ZombiU

Written by Adam Shear

Upon its release this Fall, the Wii U will have plenty of games to satisfy the urges of any gamer.  Ubisoft has plenty of ground covered, including a first person shooter called ZombiU.  I got my hands on ZombiU’s single player mode while at the Wii U Experience event in New York City.  Here are my thoughts on the ten or so minutes I survived.

The premise behind ZombiU is that you play as a survivor of a terrible plague that has hit the city of London.  Your goal is to survive by any means necessary.  If you die, your character is not revived.  You must start over as a new survivor and track down your past survivor who has turned into a zombie, kill him/her, and get your gear back.  One bite will kill you so you must be careful.

The game’s atmosphere is pretty scary.  The surround sound headphones I wore added to that atmosphere.  ZombiU’s visuals look great.  It looks very dark and creepy as well as beautiful in HD.

If you are someone who regularly plays first person shooters, the controls come naturally for shooting and aiming.  Sprinting can be done with the R button (right bumper) and reloading is done with the Y button.  What made the game unique however was the bug out bag which is what appears on the screen of the Wii U GamePad.  Players use the touch screen to switch weapons and manage their items.  When opening crates and looting dead bodies, the items up for grabs would appear on the GamePad’s screen.  I had to drag each item I wanted into my bag.  If I had more of one item in my bag, I could drag one of them on top of the other and they would combine.  This helps save space and I kind of like the idea of players having to do this themselves.  Adds to the realism.  The bug out bag also contains a scanner which can be used to find out more information about things in your environment.  This is controlled on the GamePad and it works well.

During my time with the game, I played a mission where I had to escape a nursery.  It was very dark in the nursery with only a flashlight to help me out.  What is great about ZombiU is that there aren’t hordes of zombies chasing after you all the time.  ZombiU is a true survival horror game in that there are very few zombies in the game, but each encounter with one is frantic and frightening.  While playing, I only came across maybe seven or eight zombies.  Zombies go down with either one headshot or five to six bullets from a pistol.  If a zombie comes near, you can do a melee attack to push it away.  If a zombie comes too close, you can inject it with some substance that kills it, but you only have two of these.  If you don’t have any shots left, the zombie will bite you and kill you.

The use of the Wii U GamePad during the demo was very cool.  There were moments where I had to pick the locks of doors which was done using the touch screen of the GamePad.  The game does not pause while this is happening.  Instead, you see a third person view of your environment.  While picking the lock on the GamePad, I had to keep checking on the TV to make sure no zombies were behind me.  This definitely added to the suspense.  This also remains the same when looting dead bodies, checking crates, and doing other various tasks.  Zombies can get you at any point.  Other than this stuff, I just had to find closed doors I never opened in hopes that they would lead me out of the nursery.  I was doing very good, even beating a boss which looked like a zombie that was once a nurse.  After scanning that body, my survivor got information on how to create some sort of medicine.  If I wanted to spread that information, I had to escape.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make it out alive.  Two zombies were attacking me at once and I ran out of bullets.  I kept hitting zombies with the wooden paddle I possessed, but it wasn’t enough.  I had to stop playing here rather than take on the role of a new survivor, find my old survivor in the game, and kill it to get my cool items like my crossbow back.

Overall, I really enjoyed playing ZombiU.  Rarely do I ever get scared by a video game.  ZombiU is one of the first games to ever make me feel nervous while playing it.  I really did not know where zombies would show up or how safe I’d be in certain areas.  With the game’s AI, the zombies will always appear in different places, making each play through feel completely different.  The Wii U GamePad adds to the suspense by forcing you to look down into your bag for items or to pick locks.  It is realistic and adds to the experience. I didn’t know what to think about ZombiU until I played it.   ZombiU is definitely a title to look out for when it hits store shelves this Fall alongside the Wii U console.

About the author

Adam Shear

Contributing Writer. @AdamShear. When he's not spending his hours working in the TV industry, he's spending his time playing video games and thinking about them.


  • I am so excited for this game. I haven’t played a game that has given me a jump scare since Resident Evil 2.

    I can’t wait to hear more about the MP modes available.

  • Sounds like a neat idea. Not being able to mow down zombies and encounters being terrible things for you. I would like to know a bit more about the atmosphere though. What exactly makes it scary?

    Also are the graphics anywhere close to the splash image? The lighting especially, is it that good?

    • The lighting and sound makes it scary. When wearing surround sound headphones, there were noises all over the place which made me a bit nervous. You can barely see except for what your flashlight shows you. This is what makes the game scary. The graphics are great, but nowhere close to the splash image. It was an early build I was playing though, so we won’t know what it looks like until it releases.

  • I love the fact that lock picking does not pause the game, adding to the suspense. I hope Nintendo prices the Wii U reasonably at launch.

    • Like I said, the graphics are great! HD visuals that look dark and creepy. Better looking than Left 4 Dead for sure (hate to compare to another zombie game, but what the heck, I’ll do it).

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