[Preview] Getting past the hype: How good does ZombiU really look?

Posted under Features
November 14, 2012 by (@NE_Austin)


First you’re skeptical. Then you’re excited. Then you’re REALLY excited. Then you’re skeptical.

It’s a vicious cycle that constantly churns within you whenever something exciting is about to launch in the video game world. Be it a game or a console, you will find yourself one day nearly shaking with anticipation, and the next ferociously scouring the internet for reasons why it won’t be as bad as you’re worried it will be.

This is exactly where I am with ZombiU today.



A few hours ago I returned from Gamestop after laying down my final pre-orders and paying off my Deluxe bundle. I will be getting three games on launch day, two of which– Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U– I know exactly what I’m getting and I’m glad I’m paying the price I am for them. The third game– by this point obviously ZombiU– I have no firm, consistent reason to believe it will be anything other than a buggy, disappointing mess.

The internet is as well– and rightfully so– divided on the game. Half of it is extraordinarily excited, claiming that this is the first “real” zombie game in years, and the other half seems to be somewhat upset that the graphics are “circa 2007 FPS graphics”. I have a crazy idea though: Maybe we’re all wrong. Maybe the graphics aren’t that bad, but the gameplay is worse than we think it will be. Maybe we’re overlooking obvious flaws because we want the game to succeed so badly. Before the naysayers try and have their way, I’d like to make it clear that I’m not trying to say that it will be a 4/10 game that lets everyone down harder than Red Steel. I’m trying to say that maybe our expectations are too high. That perhaps it will be a good game with a promising future, but not a great one.

For those that haven’t been following, ZombiU is perhaps the most talked-about launch game on the Wii U. The excitement first began to stir at E3 back in June when we heard the primary details: ZombiU is hard, it’s unforgiving, and it’s scary. Dying in the game meant you started over as a new survivor, weapons came but once in a blue moon, and the locales were atmospheric, tense, and riddled with ways to get killed. It was a horror lover’s dream, and preliminary video footage looked extremely promising.



As previews and hands-on impressions began to roll out, things didn’t deteriorate too much. Outlets remarked that the controls were a little rough around the edges and the graphics could use a boost, but on the whole it was an extremely promising demo– unlike Ubisoft’s core Wii launch title, Red Steel. If the studio could take press critiques into account they would be in for a massive launch of a new IP.

Despite all of this, however, I’d recommend remaining skeptical. If you watch a lot of gameplay footage of the game, you’ll notice that character models can break into poor camera angles, and that certain things (rats especially) will just run through dead bodies or set pieces. Occasionally the zombie animations are awkward and unbelievable, and overall the textures are pretty poor. Of course, none of this is a reason to shame the game into the depths of disappointment, but it’s a cautious reminder that, amid the excitement, the game is likely not as flawlessly developed as we think.

Now, there’s a lot of reason to be excited about ZombiU as well. For one, all of the most recent hands-on previews are saying that every issue has been fixed, and if the campaign isn’t a six hour romp of fetch quests that it is going to be a very good title. People are praising the use of the Gamepad, and most of them are saying that it is perhaps the greatest use of the Wii U we will see at launch, Nintendo’s own games included. IGN went so far as to say that the latest build beats NSMBU and Nintendo Land as the must-have game.

But still. Remember the first trailer for PS360 game Dead Island? People were convinced that it would be something like the game ZombiU is promising to be. But it wasn’t.

It wasn’t terrible. But it wasn’t great.



Conceptually we all know that ZombiU has every other Wii U launch game beat by a mile. It’s a true survival-horror experience that could only be brought to life on Wii U, and it is perhaps one of the most exciting game ideas since we first heard of the likes of Scribblenauts or Minecraft. Just the possibility of a sequel down the line could conceivably warrant a purchase, and it is tantalizing to think of an even more polished game where death is game over, and resources are scarcer than a quality FPS on Wii. (Zing!)


What are your thoughts? Any of you picking it up? Why or why not? Commentssssssss!


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