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E3 2012: First Look – ZombiU (Wii U)

Ubisoft shows off one of its Wii U launch titles – ZombiU – teasing impressive visuals, unique hardware/controller-based mechanics, and plenty of super-violent zombie-blasting action.

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At first glance, ZombiU doesn’t sound exceptionally unique. In fact, if Ubisoft were publishing the game on another console, it may not be so intriguing at all. Fortunately, the upcoming shooter for the Wii U – confirmed for a holiday 2012 release – looks to be one of the next-gen console’s first notable titles.

ZombiU’s biggest selling point is its use of the Wii U controller, which players will use in a variety of unique ways to interact with the game like never before. According to many of the E3 attendees who reported on the hands-on demo, ZombiU manages to incorporate these innovative methods of control while avoiding the problem of becoming “too gimmicky” or cumbersome.

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Details about the story are pretty slim; the game takes place in London, obviously following the obligatory zombie outbreak. As a survivor of the outbreak, you fight to stay alive using any weapons you find.

The general gameplay appears to be pretty straightforward, like many shooters – though ZombiU definitely gave me some flashbacks to Condemned: Criminal Origins (360) and the Left 4 Dead series. More importantly, there’s a unique twist to the zombie-killing title: you’ll use a special scanner (basically an in-game Wii U controller) that allows you to scan the environment for items, pull up a map/radar system, and manage your inventory (similar to RE4/RE5’s inventory system) in real-time.

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There’s more: when things get up-close-and-personal, players can swing the Wii U controller to fend off zombies. There are even “deathblows” that can be pulled off by swinging around the new controller. These ideas sound interesting, but as the type of person who tries to avoid breaking expensive, brand-new gaming hardware, I’m not sure how I will feel when I’m forced to swing my Wii U GamePad like a maniac.

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Finally, one of the last big features based on the controller revolves around sniping segments. The GamePad screen essentially becomes a scope, and using the motion-sensing capabilities and the touch screen, you can aim your rifle and fire at zombies with precision from a distance. It’s an interesting concept, and I will admit that I was “wowed” when I first saw this concept in action.

You can see more of the exciting combat and controller mechanics in the E3 gameplay trailer below:

Skeptics wanting a “hardcore” game for the Wii U should take note; ZombiU has a silly title, but it doesn’t hold back on the violence, the gore, and the creepy imagery. Indeed, this is a Wii U title that impresses with both its unique gameplay concepts and its visual quality, not to mention the shocking level of violence that almost makes Ubisoft seem depserate to earn a “Mature” rating from the ESRB.

Apparently, ZombiU is being designed to feel like an all-out struggle for survival in a real zombie apocalypse. Being bitten even once will result in death, so in order to stay alive, players will need to use the scanner as much as possible while being tactful and smart about combat with zombies in some of the claustrophobic environments. An interesting twist; dead characters will remain on the ground, and players will assume control of another nearby survivor. Naturally, any items or equipment left on the dead body can be retrieved, including the fancy scanning device. Some E3 attendees claimed that the difficulty level is reminiscent of From Software’s notoriously-challenging Dark Souls, but say that the punishment makes ZombiU more exciting and interesting to play.

These are all the basic details we currently know about ZombiU; check back on Game Freaks 365 over the next few months for more details about this intriguing Wii U launch title. Don’t be shy, leave a comment – we won’t bite.