Graphics:
7.0
Gameplay:
7.9
Sound:
8.0
Control:
7.6
Replay Value:
7.5
Overall Rating:
7.8
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
Ubisoft
Developer:
Ubisoft Montpelier
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Survival/Horror
Release Date:
August 18, 2015


ZombiU released as a third-party exclusive for the Wii U in 2012 and while it met with mixed critical reactions, it quickly became a cult hit. This is because those who really loved survival/horror enjoyed the game’s purposely slower pace and reliance on thrills and chills as opposed to ceaseless action. While one could easily categorize the game as “action,” it certainly has distinct Resident Evil -like traits that permeate the product to its core, and these elements truly are the highlights. Now, the title comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC as Zombi and even though it looks and feels a little old, it remains an effectively freaky adventure that’s probably worth the $20 price tag.

However, it’s a little disappointing that Ubisoft didn’t really do anything to upgrade the visuals for this re-release. As far as I can tell, the game looks exactly the same as it did on Wii U (if I’m remember the Wii U version correctly), although the “dirty screen” feature from the previous version is gone, so the picture is a bit cleaner. Aside from that, there isn’t much to talk about. The graphics are about what you’d expect from a 2012 Wii U product which is to say…not that impressive. Even so, the designers do a decent job of instilling fear and evoking real emotion, which serves to override the generally lacking visuals. It’s a matter of atmosphere and artistic presentation as opposed to ultra-crisp and realistic graphics; excellence in the latter category isn’t always necessary for immersion.

The sound seems to be about the same, too, but this was better than the graphics in the first place. There’s plenty of ambient and background effects that will prickle the hair on the back of your neck, and the soundtrack is surprisingly good. I think the implementation of the audio effects is a big highlight because they ramp up our sensitivity and general involvement. Good effects and music, properly combined in a horror adventure, should generate strong feelings of urgency and anxiety, and we get that in bunches in Zombi . The developers don’t quite push the necessary boundaries in my estimation, leaving us wanting more without showing us the full Monty, so-to-speak. One of these days, a development team is going to shock me with its audio bravery. I hope.

For the most part, this port isn’t particularly special. As I said above, the technical elements haven’t really changed and neither has the basic gameplay. It runs about the same and the only changes are obvious, such as the elimination of multiplayer (it needed the tablet on Wii U). There are a few smaller omissions – for instance, when your friends fall online, you can’t loot them anymore – but overall, there are no drastic additions or deletions. It’s basically ZombiU for different platforms and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless you’ve already played the game on Wii U. If you have, I can’t imagine why you’d bother with it on PS4, Xbox One or PC; the changes just aren’t significant enough to matter. But for the rest of you:

London has been overrun with swarms of the shambling undead. The game also tells you that this isn’t an entirely new occurrence, as the Black Plague that decimated Europe in the 1300s also resulted in a zombie apocalypse. In fact, in the 1500s, mathematician and spy John Dee predicted the zombie plague would arise again, and so it has. It’ll be your job to survive long enough to solve Dee’s puzzle and locate a cure before the undead eradicate all of humanity. The only problem is that you’re not given much in the way of weapons and ability at the start, so you definitely have to focus on caution and strategy. Don’t mistake this for a slam-bang action-fest ala Zombie Army Trilogy ; this is a modern survival/horror quest that demands your attention and diligence. Be careful out there!

Exploring this dark, decaying London is tricky business, to say the least, but you do have the assistance of “The Prepper.” He’s a little paranoid and probably a lot crazy but he’s also ex-military, and he knows the city. He’ll guide you through the ultra-dangerous metropolis, fix you up with a safe house, and warn you when you’re about to enter a life-or-death situation (which is basically all the time). From your safe house, you can venture out and collect fresh equipment and find the necessary clues. Remember, this is about saving humanity, not just yourself, and to find a cure you have to unravel an ancient riddle. If you do happen to run into the undead, you had better be on your game, because these things are shockingly deadly. That’s part of what makes this game stand out.