E3 Preview: ZombiU


Nintendo’s Wii U console was one of the biggest talking points of this year’s E3, and it wasn’t all positive. Though the publisher didn’t do the best job of letting people know what games they could look forward to on the new system, they did make sure to highlight ZombiU, which is set to release later this year. Utilizing the GamePad controller, ZombiU is definitely one of the most promising titles announced for Nintendo’s next console. But while Ubisoft’s approach to the zombie threat is interesting, it’s hard to know if it’s enough to keep gamers entertained.

Like Left 4 Dead, ZombiU pits human against undead in a world where life as we know it has ended. Unlike L4D, though, ZombiU‘s multiplayer is one-on-one, with one player controlling the human in a fairly typical first-person shooter experience. The undead player uses the GamePad to control a team of zombies, using the touch screen to place them throughout the area to stop the player from capturing each section. Zombies are also required to capture flags, and the GamePad player has to balance between capturing, defending the capturing zombie, and attacking the player.

This is what’s interesting about the nightmarish game of capture the flag: one gamer is playing a first-person shooter, and the other is essentially playing a strategy game. The GamePad truly offers a different experience for that player, which seems to be what Nintendo is trying to achieve with the Wii U. I only got to play as the zombies during my short multiplayer demo, and I didn’t look up from the GamePad screen the entire time. I frantically placed zombies on flags, sent them after the human, and waited impatiently for more to be unlocked. It was immersive and fun-I didn’t miss having a normal controller or the TV screen-and when I was done I my brain immediately began racing with thoughts of how I could have approached the game more strategically.

ZombiU also has a single-player mode that uses the GamePad, but I didn’t get to see it during my demo. However, I really liked what I did see. It’s easy to imagine players taking turns being humans and zombies, and being horrified to see the zombified faces of their friends in the horde during gameplay. I’m not sure if it will have the lasting appeal of previous zombie apocalypse titles, but at the very least, it’s an interesting use of the Wii U’s hardware that does a good job of showing off how the GamePad changes the way you play the game.

See all our coverage directly from the E3 2012 show floor.

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