Review: Zombi

Zombi art

The Wii U has had mixed fortunes since its release in November 2012. The console hasn’t shifted many units and third party support (ones worth mentioning at least) is practically non-existent. Yet one of the best games released for the console nearly three years on and one of the most unique titles of the entire generation to date is Ubisoft’s launch title, ZombiU. That’s my humble opinion at least and you can read my original review for the nitty gritty of the details of the game including the plot.

Zombi is pretty much identical to the Wii U original with only minor changes here and there. The key thing I went into this re-working is how on Earth will the game play without the Wii U’s unique controller. ZombiU is only a handful of titles that made good use of the controller and a lot of the enjoyment came from the unique gameplay and immersion offered by it. The good news is that the port does a good job shifting the functions away to other places/buttons.

Zombi PS4 screenshot 2

The BOB’s (bug-out-bag) inventory has been mapped to the DualShock’s touchpad and the menu appears on the main screen. It’s effectively the same however instead of your eyes drawn away from your surroundings the inventory simply obscures them. It still does loose that slight sense that you are looking in your bag when you were looking down at the controller but it doesn’t make the game worse in any way.

The mini-map too is now on the main screen, again making it easier to survive as everything is contained closer together and you don’t have that panic when you’re running on the big screen but need to look at your radar on your lap. If you’ve played the original it’s this sort of gameplay that increased the sense of dread and fear. The new versions do negate that feeling somewhat but it’s key to remember technically speaking the gameplay isn’t affected.

Other changes are more minor. Instead of the very British cricket bat being the only melee weapon, you now have a spade which has a longer reach and the nailed bat which increases the damage inflicted. The flashlight too has had an upgrade, now letting you switch to a wider but more battery draining beam  which also makes you a more obvious target. The recharge time has also been changed making your life that little bit more difficult.

Zombi PS4 screenshot

Shifting from the Wii U to the PS4 and Xbox one you would rightly expect improved graphics but in all honesty there’s nothing to shout about. There are improvements of course but in no way has Sony or Microsoft’s console really been tapped in to. There are also some frame-rate issues which I don’t recall seeing on the Wii U which is surprising but it goes to show the porting has been done purely for business reasons rather than the publisher doing it for the love of getting this game in front of more people.

Although the port is serviceable and by no means the best example, there is one main problem area for me. It’s a great disappointment to report that Zombi does not feature local multiplayer which I very much enjoyed on the WiiU. The asymmetrical gameplay was quite unique and interesting but I can understand it wasn’t ported due to the lack of an appropriate control scheme. One still feels that they could have devised hoard mode option still or something similar but guessing budget constraints ruled that out. This does mean that the longevity of the title is not drastically reduced. You do of course get the harder options in the campaign which only grants you one life but it’s not the same.

I guess that sums up Zombi. The excellent Wii U title failed to make a profit and I reckon Ubisoft’s aim with this port is to at least break even so spending great deal of additional money wouldn’t help. Plus it’s also a good way to gauge the appetite of the title on the PlayStation and Xbox audience. Therefore this Zombi port is rather barebones, however it is still very enjoyable game and a chance for other console owners to sample a true horror-survival title.

PopBucket Review Score 8

Version reviewed: PS4

Zombi is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Author: Martyn Newton

Overlord of PopBucket and a gamer from a very young age with earliest memories including Theme Park, Detroit (look it up), Sim City, Championship Manager 2, The Lion King and Command & Conquer.

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  • Paladinrja

    How is BOB obscuring the screen ‘effectively’ the same thing? Once used to the position of things you do not need to look down at the large buttons on a touch screen easily visible with peripheral vision to rummage through BOB.

    The touchpad on the DS4 is simply one big button and it sounds like Ubisoft created another level of immersion by keeping things running whilst the screen is obscured with BOB but its not effectively the same experience. Its pretty unfair that in simply trying to trend this game you misrepresent the GP.
    If Sony or MS can provide even 100ms latency facility between their consoles and any other device then there is somewhat a point. They can’t and they never will without revising their consoles and peripherals.

    On a slightly tangential note. Its really a shame that socialization in gaming where media is party to online, so totally misses the point of what Nintendo are doing for the past ten years in separating themselves and creating a whole new gaming space. When the Wii U represents a unique insight gamers are given opportunity to see a Nintendo platform that isn’t orbited by a glut of big budget third party support and is the first time in 26yrs where they are almost solely carrying their own platform themselves in a new emerging market. The last time this happened was with the NES.

    This is the lightning that Nintendo is attempting to strike twice not the Wii and last time it rebirthed the gaming industry.

    I think writing a review about Zombi and not comparing it to the Wii U or Zombie U is perhaps more to the point. Its a totally different space of business and monetization (as is evident by third party allegiances) and therefore a whole different space in gaming. It shouldn’t be insinuated that its possible to have the same experiences on PS4/X1 when its clearly not.

    • Martyn Newton

      I have made it clear the Wii U version is better, both in the words used and the score given.

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