Forget about mushrooms and Koopas, because the zombies are coming. As an unexpected Wii U launch title, Ubisoft Montpelier deals out the fear with the inquisitive survival horror title, ZombiU.

Welcome to London 2012, where a cannibalistic outbreak has turned much of the population into brain-eating zombies. Yes, “ZombiU” like most other "undead" representations keeps to the basics; hopeless endurance. You fight to survive with the always looming question - “for how long”. Sure, there is a small religious blurb about god and black angels, but when it comes down to it, you are just beating down zombies while trying to survive. Still, the “paint-by-the-numbers” attitude doesn't disappoint because Ubisoft Montpelier did such a great job at setting the proper tone. It's always fun to get some fear in your veins, and for a survival horror title, ZombiU starts off right.

Presented here are two single-player modes, “Normal” - play as a new survivor each time your character dies, or “Survival Mode” - one survivor, when they die, that's all she wrote. Each mode is basically the same, minus the amount of “lives” you have. After selecting a difficulty (chicken, or standard) you're off into the zombie infected world. If multiplayer is your thing, there is also a two-player, offline only, mode that offers up a more action oriented take on the sluggish pacing of the single player game.


To start off the campaign you will be rushed into an underground bunker of sorts, which acts as your “home”, or more appropriately tagged “re-spawning point”. From here an anonymous tipster pushes you through the narrative by giving you objectives to complete. ZombiU is very minimal in its hand holding and information, which only increases your anxiety levels. It's understandable that some players will want a little more “Resident Evil” leading, but the lack of supporting content is oddly refreshing, while only adding to an already unsettling atmosphere.

Tacking on more "creep" is the concept of one life, or multiple lives (if you're playing on normal). Here you'll be fighting against the system as you respawn and backtrack to gain the goods from your former life. This creates a challenging endeavour where you really need to think out your moves and be prepared for anything. The concept is very similar to “Demon/Dark Souls”, which is a highly popular action RPG that operates on the same tough love, backtracking system. Admittedly, ZombiU is a lot easier, but still, gamers unfamiliar with this set-up could be rather annoyed by its “old school” methodology.


The Gamepad is cleverly used as your “SmartMap”, which is a map/inventory/scanner device. Using all the tools of the “Smart Map” is important to survival, a point that is stressed early on. The design of this interface on the Gamepad is innovative, as it forces you to look away from the “real-time” action on the main screen. Like a real-world application, this only heightens the feeling of dread as you try and micromanage the Gamepad information while avoiding the stumbling undead. Instantly, ZombiU reminded me of one of my favourite horror games “Fatal Frame”, which used a camera system in a similar way.

Conceptually, ZombiU knocks it out of the park. However when it comes to the gameplay element alone, it tends to only hit singles. The combat is unfortunately really repetitive. Surprisingly, it starts out seeming like a strong player, but hit-after-hit, things slowly drain your excitement for going up against the zombies. Although staying away from zombies isn't a bad thing if you can help it. ZombiU can be relentless when they are coming at you in groups. Taking down zombies can be done with a few precise hits, or they can take multiple beatings. It can be rather consistent, which is another depressing aspect about slaughtering zombies. I mean blunt-force-zombie sounds like a win, but sadly it gets all cricket-batted out.

The production is solid with the lights down low, but once they are turned on, boy-oh-boy, you'll want them back off. Now, ZombiU isn't as hideous as the undead ugly's that you will be whacking, but it is unpolished. Thankfully the atmosphere takes over and makes you forget about the dull looking objects and environments. The feeling of isolation is impressive because you never really get confident in your movements as the claustrophobic grit is pushed to an extreme. This goes double for the audio, which is a little less impressive and kept to a bare minimum as well. Understandably, they are building on something here, although other games have done the “horror” genre better. Nevertheless, ZombiU gets a nod for its impending presence of doom.


The simple pleasure of having the “bejesus” scared out of you is the main reason to own Ubisofts ZombiU. It's that quick adrenaline rush mixed with unsettling reality that you're alone in a city of death that really does it. Although, not for everyone, the ones who don't mind the slow build and simple thrill of surviving will find ZombiU pleasantly surprising. You might want to try this one before purchasing, but if you're into a few carnal scares, go ahead and give this one a shot. Gloria Gaynor, we'll do ya proud.

  • Spooky atmosphere and bleak game setting. Perfect for a horror survival game.
  • Innovative use of the Gamepad.
  • Multiplayer, although only 2-players locally is fun.
  • Expect a few jumps along the way. Good sense of tension and what's next.
  • Action gamers you might be sleeping, this one is a slow build.
  • Not much to the narrative in comparison to other “horror survival” titles.
  • While initially fun, combat and objectives can get repetitive.
  • Minimal sound design, other games have done it better.
  • Very little hand holding. Sorry newbies, you're on your own.
Quote: "The simple pleasure of having the “bejesus” scared out of you is the main reason to own Ubisofts ZombiU."
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 12.05.12 | Platform Reviewed: Wii U

Similar Games: Dark Souls (8.0) | Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (9.0)




Ubisoft Montpelier

Survival Horror

US Release
November '12


Wii U

Players 1
Offline MP 2
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p