The Average Gamer

E3 2012 – ZombiU Single Player Hands-on Video

ZombiU was the surprise Wii U game unveiled at Ubisoft’s E3 2012 conference last week with a stunning trailer of zombies in modern London and absolutely no gameplay. It was actually playable on the show floor, so I had a go at the single-player mode.

It’s… complex. In a good way. You have no real protagonist. Each time you die, you’ll wake up as another character in the safe house who has to find their way across London to some mysterious goal. Supply caches are restocked for each new survivor but should you stumble across your previous incarnation in their new zombie form, you can always try to kill them and reclaim your old stuff as well. Woo-hoo, extra crossbows! Why are there crossbows and bolts littered around modern London? I have no idea.

The Wii U gamepad is used to manage inventory, as a zombie mapper and as a scanner to find lootable objects. In normal mode it will show the local area map and has a kind of sonar to show nearby zombies as red dots. I guess dead people give off a different sound reflection to live ones. By holding down the left button you can activate the X-ray-like scanner mode which shows your surroundings in a ghostly grey and uses white dots to highlight points of interest, i.e. lootable containers and weapons.

As with most games, you’ll use the left thumbstick to walk and the right to control the camera. Here’s where I had the biggest problem with the Wii U gamepad and I expect to find the same with the Wii U pro controller: the right thumbstick is in the wrong place. To use it, you point your thumb forwards but think about the right thumbstick position for the PS2, the PS3 and the Xbox 360.

Over the past decade we’ve all been trained into controlling the camera with our thumbs pointing left. With that control basically rotated by 90 degrees, it meant that whenever I wanted to look up I’d skew over to the side slightly. It’s not quite as bad as playing inverted when you don’t want to, but it is a noticeable problem. I really hope Nintendo look into a redesign.

Regardless, the game was still creepy and enjoyable. Here’s the video.

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