Survival Horror, it has been a while since those words had any relevance. Most of us immediately think of Resident Evil. For years I have searched for another game that could bring me the suspense, anxiety, and fears while playing. ZombiU is the new face of "Survival Horror". Please continue reading to see how Ubisoft managed to bring back, what Capcom could not...
Graphics = 7/10
ZombiU is not on the same level as Resident Evil 5 and 6, but it looks good enough for what it is. When it is not pouring rain, you are in the dark with a flashlight most of the time. So the mediocre graphics really do not affect the enjoyment of this game at all. Does the game look bad? Not at all! In fact, sometimes the graphics look really good, then sometimes it looks like a launch title.
Hopefully Ubisoft will continue this series and upgrade the graphics engine.
Sound = 9/10
The sounds in this game is what really pushes the creep factors. The backgrounds are so incredibly eerie that I start to get anxiety while playing. Walking down a dark street you will hear cans being kicked around, screeching of zombies, birds feeding off a corpse. The ambient noises could be the star of this show.
The voice acting is pretty good, but there is not much of it. Most of the time you hear the voice of a male who is trying to help you survive. You will also run in to other people during the game, and for the most part, their voice acting is pretty well done as well.
You will not get Call of Duty type explosions and gun sounds, but for this type of game I do not feel it is needed. The object is to try and stay quiet so you do not lure in a horde of zombies.
Gameplay = 8.5/10
Lets talk about the gamepad a little. The new gamepad controller is what really sets this title apart from any other survival horror game ever made. In the palm of your hands is your scanner. The scanner allows you to do MANY things while playing. You will use the gamepad to scan areas by pressing and holding the "L" button. You will find yourself doing this often as scanning things will let you mark doors, items, bodies, and clues, right to your map. The scanner can find hidden messages written on walls which could help you the game. Some messages are left by other ZombiU players, and some are codes to unlock doors. Usually behind the locked doors you will find weapon upgrades and items. You can move the scanner around freely which gives the feeling of you actually being in that room. The screen on the gamepad turns in to what you would be seeing through your own eyes, or you can just use the right analog stick. This also happens when you use a turret gun.
The gamepad also has a radar which can be used to locate zombies near by. By pressing the sonar button, a sound wave will be dispersed, and a red will appear when it finds a moving object. It will also detect birds and rats, so that red dot does not always mean there is a zombie near by.
By swiping down on the LCD screen of the gamepad, you can pull up your backpack where you keep select items. Health, flares, grenades, guns, ammo, planks, etc, are all items you will want to have on you. But this is not a magical backpack, so you will need fill that pack properly. No reason to be carrying 6 flares!!!!!
The voice of the guy helping you will also be heard through your gamepad. This really helps give that realistic feeling to the whole creepy experience.
Switching weapons can sometimes be hard because you have to look down at the gamepad and press the icon of the other weapon you want to use. I have died a few times trying to find where I placed my secondary weapon. Because you can pretty much equip 6 weapons if you chose to, I can see why there is no physical button used, but the d-pad is not used and that would have been great to link weapons to it.
ZombiU is linked to your online community the moment you start playing. Leaderboards are cleverly shown during your game, usually written on the floor or walls. The leaderboard scores are determined by how many points you can rack up. You get points for killing zombies, opening manholes, weapon upgrades, completing objectives, finding new gear, and more. You might also see one of your buddies roaming your game as a walking corpse. This is because if one of your friends dies while playing, their corpse will infect your game. You will get a notification that your friend is infected and is walking around a certain area. You can also grab all the loot he had on him when got infected. Once you find the spray paint, you will be able to write hidden messages on the walls to help, or to not help. Messages will have a trust meter as well. This is to help you decide who to believe.
When you die, the game keeps going. You wake up as a new survivor and you will need to locate your body, well you need to locate that walking corpse you have become, and you need to kill him/her to get your loot back. If you become infected before retrieving your loot, you lose it for good.
I also found I had to change my control sensitivity to about 85%. This will help you move around easier.
Overall = 8/10
Right now I have to say that this is one of the creepiest games I have ever played. Plugging in some headphones to the gamepad while playing really intensifies the experience too. ZombiU does a great job of not being overbearing with the zombies. You might open a door just to see a zombie jump out at you. And you might walk in to an area or open a door that you might think would have to have a zombie or 2 waiting, but there isn't.
Stealth is a must because the zombies love sound and light. And don't get too angry when you die, and you will die!!!! That is part of the experience, that is what makes this game so different than the other survival horror games out there. And this is why ZombiU gets "Lethal's Stamp of Approval".
Amazing use of the gamepad
A real survivor horror title
Real messages left by other players (Requires spray paint to leave messages.)
Weapon switching is limited to your LCD screen
Zombies require too many hits (4 hits with cricket bat, then a foot stomp)
May require you to buy new underwear