Different Platform, same overwhelming terror!
It’s 2012 and London is in the midst of a mass Zombie outbreak epidemic, the historical streets that once lined the City now play host to swarms of aggressive brain hungry undead. Lurking deep beneath the dark and dank City streets, Zombies lie in wait in the sewers, even the Queen and Buckingham Palace aren’t safe from the utter hell that now resides over London.
Zombi is a console and PC port of ZombiU, originally released in 2013 for the Wii-U. A game where players must quickly learn to survive the dark and truly terrifying Zombie filled streets of London. While there are slight differences in the two versions i.e lack of gamepad, the plot remains the same. Players must complete set tasks in order to escape the City and put an end the nightmare, under the tutelage of “The Prepper”, an ex Army soldier who knew the apocalypse was coming from studying “The Black Prophecy”, apocalyptic notes written 400 years ago.
Zombi: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC [Reviewed]
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Release Date: 18th August 2015
Price: £14.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Publisher]
The story begins with a lonely survivor outside an underground station somewhere in London, the streets are littered with flesh eating Zombies, suddenly a voice echoes through a loud speaker, a man calling himself “The Prepper” informs me that he can help me to survive before beckoning me into the station, his voice alone of course sets off the prowling droves of undead and I’m quickly forced to sprint through the underground to reach a safe house.
The safehouse is a restroom facility which plays host to a bed, that can be used to regenerate health as well as save progression. It also plays home to a bunch of monitors show CCTV footage from all around the City. With the help of my mysterious skilled guide, I gain the use of the Prepper Pad, a device which can be used to hack into CCTV Cameras across the City as well as search for items and of course identify the undead. The previous Wii-U version had players painfully looking towards the gamepad for it’s use, however now everything appears on screen.
A huge amount of Zombi’s story lies in following “The Preppers” every call, I began my survival by retrieving a Cricket Bat and Backpack from a former survivor, this short, first quest introduces me to the games mechanics, teaching me how to control my survivor as well as perform combat moves, although this is all very short it’s enough to keep you alive. Some elements of the game are never fully explained but can be easily worked out. After suffering a couple random deaths from lunging Zombies. I could easily take down stragglers or small groups without too much hassle. Tasked with leaving the Underground for the first time to retrieve an item from the nearby Supermarket, armed with my Cricket Bat and Pistol, I leave the safe confinements of the safe house, alone.
Zombi is as brutal and beautifully bloody as it is unforgiving. Choosing a starting difficulty has never been more uncaring towards gamers, however, this all serves to give the game and the genre a more realistic kick up the backside. I chose to begin the nightmare on Standard Mode, a mode that gives you infinite lives replacing any dead survivor with a brand new meat suit, thus ensuring that the show rolls on, even if you don’t.
The very unforgiving nature of Zombi becomes glaringly apparent upon restarting each new life, rather painfully back at the original safe house…I hasten to add. Deaths throughout the game come at a great price, in order to retrieve my previously acquired loot I must franticly rush back to the scene of my former self’s death, however he or she are no longer dead but very much alive, in the sense of Zombie terminology. After bludgeoning my former self to death. I pick up my loot and continue on my merry way, failure to reach the backpack leads to all items disappearing forever.
Visually, Zombi has a great aesthetic to it, an unerring combination of dark, foggy streets and alleyways leave the City with a truly terrifying atmosphere similar to that of an old school horror film, I found myself constantly cautious of my surroundings, prepared to venture around each corner with trepidation. Not content with simply lying in wait within the darkness, Zombies are actively out in the moonlit streets. Often enemies would lay dormant throughout the streets and buildings, leaping to life the moment I got within a certain radius. Whilst encountering small groups I found luring individuals away from the group to be the best method to avoid being bogged down and trapped. However in Zombi, it’s what you can’t see that can lead to your downfall.
I found the Zombies within the game to be of the typical nature – slow, sluggish but deadly when up close, scratching, clawing and biting while others attempted to crawl up against my leg, though most of these can be easily avoided, in groups I quickly found myself trapped and in danger of a restart as I became overwhelmed and the weight of panic set in. As I progressed further into the game I encountered different types of Zombie, some of which posed a whole new level of threat to my very existence. I suddenly found myself having to avoid acid and blood being spat at me, while others jammed my Prepper Pad and the dreaded screamers which attracted more Zombies to my location The different mixture of flesh-eating enemies is certain to keep players on their toes.
While most of the combat during Zombi is easy to understand, I found the hit detection to be slightly off. Occasional swings of the Bat wouldn’t register a direct hit, leaving me open and exposed to an attack, although that was a very small issue, it quickly becomes a big one when your health is dangerously low. Finishing off a Zombie also proved frustrating at times, when prompted to use a select button to deal a final blow to a crawler I found that the survivor would actually push back the monster over and over again, rather than finish them off, which again left me with less health. Aside from a few complications I found the overall combat within the game to be pretty accurate.
The Cricket Bat, while being extremely fun to use isn’t the only form of attack when it comes to taking it to the enemies in Zombi. While out on various quests I came across Shotguns, Assault Rifles, and even a Crossbow. Weapons lie in set locations and once recovered appear to not respawn, making survival more difficult. With weapons on board, I was able to hold off swarms of Zombies without the sheer fear of being forced into a corner I couldn’t get out of. Of course, there were times where I would die, failing to recover these very useful items, which can be very punishing.
ZombiU was an instant classic while setting a benchmark for the Wii-U back in 2013, porting the game across to the other major consoles and PC appears to have been a very smart move and one that should not be overlooked at the smallish asking price. London has never looked more daunting or deadly. Zombi is an utterly terrifying reminder of the damage an outbreak of this nature can cause major Cities. The landscape is extremely well executed incorporating both a grisly and gruesome backdrop, parts of the City are very well designed leaving the game with a thoroughly dark feel.
Survival Horror games often rise or fall on a few key elements, scenery, enemies, and script. Zombi appears to have all the required clout to be a real horror classic. Though the story isn’t massively long it’s overall effects are sure to leave an everlasting impression on any would-be buyer. I would point out that I played the entire game with the brightness down at it’s lowest, I feel that the sheer darkness that the game has to offer is where the fun truly lies and is there anything more worrying than running out of flashlight battery and waiting painfully in the darkness for it to recharge.