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.
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.
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.
Version reviewed: PS4
Zombi is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.