After what seems like a decade of dripping mature and adult games through their consoles, Nintendo seem to be silently giving in and giving their audience something with some real bite to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily sit and play a Mario game with its hypnotically soothing tunes but sometimes I just want to shoot some big monsters in their faces with a character who swears a lot.

With that in mind Ubisoft have given us ZombiU for Nintendo’s latest console the WiiU. ZombiU is a first person survivor horror set in a zombie strewn London. You play as a random survivor who ends up taking shelter in Mile End tube station and is helped by and unseen voice that calls itself the Prepper. His motives seem only to help and train you up to survive the apocalypse. The plot only begins to pick up  when you discover other survivors and begin to wonder who you should trust… if anyone.

Now in a market that is full of zombie games, ZombiU has to do a lot if it wants to stand head and shoulders above the competition, and does it? Well in short; No, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. It’s not as fast paced as Valve’s brilliant co-op brains-fest Left 4 Dead or as immersive and psychopath inducing DayZ. However ZombiU does have some unnerving moments that hark back to the first Resident Evil games.

For a first person game, the game controls pretty much as you would expect, the only difference being there’s no hip firing and you cannot fire at will. You’ll have to aim and then your movements are slowed to a walking pace, much like Dead Space and Resident Evil. As you would also expect the game makes use of the new WiiU pad control. In some instances it uses it to great affect, (to create tension while you focus on the pad and not the screen)  but other times it makes the game needlessly over complicated.

Dude you seriously need to clean your teeth, even eating a dead cat must be better than that smell!

In the game the Prepper gives you a pad in order to communicate with you when you leave the safe house. It means that your screen on the pad shows you the radar/map and lets you organise your inventory. If you need to pick a lock or type a code onto a computer panel, you will have to do it on this screen. It’s true that you could easily do this on the main TV but it’s a nice touch and something that feels natural after a short time.

I feel the worst part involving the WiiU pad was the sniping. It felt clunky having to suddenly hold up the pad at the TV screen and aim using the small reticule on the pad. After the first few times I used this, the crossbows zoom put me off it for the rest of the game. The same goes for any mounted machine guns. This method of aiming is, quite simply off-putting.

As a rule I try not to impose my own ideas on a game because after all; I’m trying to review it not critique it. However I do feel that maybe if the pad was used to reload the gun with some touches on the screen and flicks on it, requiring you to look down and draw your focus from the action around it would’ve proved to be more beneficial for the tension and pacing of the game, but I digress.

Tension and pacing are very well set, at least for the first half of the game. Sneaking around London searching for items you need to find provide the moments that are filled with plenty of scares both from what the game throws at you and what horrors you make in your own head. Exploring new areas is a painfully slow process but not because it’s boring, but because you’ll never know what is around the next corner. Realising your radar has pinged and then looking down to see where the movement came from and then looking back up at your screen only to discover it was a rat running behind you will get your heart racing every single time.

The office Christmas party was dead even after it got started!

The main reason for you to feel fear (even though the zombies are the slow lurching kind) is because they’re [the zombies] bloody hard to kill. Your melee weapon will take several slow swings to completely kill one  zombie meaning, against a horde, it’s useless unless you’ve got a way to bottleneck them into a smaller area.

Guns are useful but only to a degree. You need to make a headshot to kill them effectively. If you shoot a zombie anywhere else you can kill it but with a handgun expect to use the whole clip on a single zombie if you’re not going for headshots. Guns also alert all the zombies in the surrounding area, so they can be a hindrance more than a help sometimes. They are definitely a last resort weapon. For these reasons it keeps the game fresh and alive pretty much all the way through. If you’re good at keeping alive and not losing your equipment then this last bit may be a bit of a breeze for you. You can use flares and molotov’s to quickly clear rooms and this skill quickly becomes an invaluable ability to learn.

The game also has permanent death so if you die you’ll lose all of your equipment, apart from anything you have in storage. On the plus side though, if you get back to where your previous character was killed you can kill the zombie and retrieve the items off its corpse. When you die you return to the safe house and start as a new random character who starts with a handgun (with a few bullets) and a cricket bat.

I think you’ve got something on your face, hold on let me get that for you!

Given that the WiiU is now all HD-ified, ZombiU looks pretty good. I wasn’t blown away with the graphics but neither was I disappointed. I will say that the developers have paid attention to the London setting, particularly the underground. The tube maps are all correct and the tube stations look like they should.  It’s not like Uncharted 3 where London looks like a Victorian period drama.  ZombiU will take you off the beaten track and it seems like it purposefully avoids popular areas such as Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. You go into Buckingham Palace but you go into areas that the most of the public will never see.

Overall, ZombiU is a fun game that is a little on the short side, there is a Survivor mode if you’re feeling brave because when you die throughout the story you’re properly dead and have to restart the game entirely. I feel it will be forgotten about very soon though as other games continue come out on the WiiU. If there is a sequel, I expect Ubisoft will learn from their mistakes, as they usually do and produce a game that does not use the pad for the sake of showing off what the WiiU can do but for the sake of creating engaging gameplay.