ZombiU preview (pictures, hands-on, screens and video)

Not only is ZombiU one of our favourite Wii U games, it's one of the best games we saw at E3 2012, full stop. It's gory, scary and completely surprising, considering Nintendo's usual fare. It is also, by far, the best illustration of what the Wii U stands for, as we found out during our hands-on play with a level from the forthcoming game.

Developed and published by Ubisoft, ZombiU uses the Wii U GamePad to its fullest. At times, it even represents the new device on screen, in your character's hands, as you wave it about. And you soon realise that this new control method is no mere gimmick, but an integral aspect to the gameplay.

It is to be used as your inventory, a keypad input mechanism, a scanner, a sniper view and more. Indeed, you'll be waving it about in front of you so much, you'll be glad that it's deceptively light. It's even used to distract you, as we'll explain.

Unlike many other zombie games around these days, ZombiU is unapologetically brutal. Where many titles give you a health bar or number of hearts to waste, one bite in Ubisoft's adventure will kill you. Game over. Thankfully, the zombies are old school and shamble along rather than run towards you, plus, they moan and groan to give you aural clues as to their presence.

However, the game, and therefore the zombies, continue in real time while you are performing actions on the Wii U GamePad. And it is here that the fear element is played to its full.

Even when you're opening a crate for ammunition, or moving things around in your inventory, the undead could be creeping up on you. You could end up lowering the Wii U GamePad to find yourself staring face to face with a rotting Royal Guard or, even, an undead version of yourself.

These latter two examples are also indicative of some of the game's more interesting features.

For starters, ZombiU is based in the UK, with the level we played set directly outside Buckingham Palace (timely, as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee was happening at the same time). Hence, the appearance of zombie Royal Guards.

Then there's your former self wandering about as one of the undead. We're particularly fond of this feature; when you die in the game and reset to a previous waypoint, your former self becomes a zombie at the point on the map where you expired. Therefore, you have to find and kill yourself to get your backpack items back. It's a fun addition and we can see it being adopted in future games.

And that's just it; there's an enormous sense of fun about ZombiU. Yes, it's pants-wettingly scary at times. Yes, it's gory and not particularly family oriented. But, that replay factor combined with interesting uses of a new control method mean it's perhaps more Nintendo than we previously thought.

What do you think about ZombiU? Will it convince you to take the plunge with the Wii U? Let us know in the comments below...



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