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Scare Tactics: ZombiU and the WiiU GamePad
by Nathan Forks on 01/19/13 04:28:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

I can still feel my heart beating. ZombiU is what I want in a survival horror game. It’s atmospheric, it has enemies that are tough to defeat, the lack of zombies keeps the player in an alert state. It’s the type of game where I need to have the right mindset to sit down and play. By the time I finish playing, I am exhausted.

When you begin, you receive a prepper kit which bares quite the resemblance to the WiiU GamePad. Receiving this prepper kit is really a means to interact with the GamePad at all. This houses your map, manages your inventory, and most importantly, acts as a radar. Whatever technology this comes equipped with, it lets you know where those pesky zombies are located. Gameplay immediately following this is very stop-and-go for me. I move forward all of five feet before pressing the radar button and then staring intensely at the GamePad. If no red dots appear, I sigh with relief. If they do pop-up, my chest tightens and I begin coaxing them out one by one to pick them off with my cricket bat.

As you progress through the game, you receive an important upgrade: a constant radar. Oh, what a precious gift. I continue my cautious stroll through London, looking down at the GamePad to see if any of the infected appear. After getting used to the consistency, I lull myself into knowing that it’s doing all the work for me. I start running through the environment, only stopping when I hear a blip on the radar. It makes me cocky though, because I start charging into typically dangerous situations.

I’m in a foggy, open area now. There’s a small dirt mound in the middle of a small lake I can run to, but it will mean not having access to any of my items until I reach land. I hear one dot appear on the map. There seems to be a zombie occupying the island. As I climb ashore, I grip the bat tightly and wind-up for a hit, but I falter for a second. “This thing is beeping a little more than I remember.” As I spar with the zombie, I hear the increase in radar activity and zombie groans. It’s now a tricky game of time management. I need to pull off a hit on the zombie in front of me, yet be able to see if any others are coming. Fortunately, I know they are out there because of the GamePad constantly reminding me. Unfortunately, I don’t know where that translates to my surroundings. I commit the biggest mistake: take my eyes completely off of the television to find those red dots. “It’s not refreshing fast enough!” I look back at the television and the zombie is standing right in front of me again. The beeps sound, but I can’t look down now. If I can just plan this smartly, I’ll make it out alive.

After a chaotic moment like that, I can sit back and realize how much Nintendo’s WiiU GamePad has added a new level of interaction with a game that I haven’t experienced before. By associating yourself with the character on screen (their prepper pad and stance is similar to your own with the GamePad), it allows for a much smoother feeling of immersion into the game. I can identify as Random Named Survivor much quicker as I mimic their actions. With the GamePad, it’s that radar that adds to this feeling the most for me. I have constant action happening on the television screen, but I have the controller itself also reminding me that there are events happening that I cannot see or control. Taking my eyes off the television screen would be like taking my eyes away from the dangers before me, but it will give me the advantage in seeing the zombie’s location. Regardless, I will continue to hear those sweeps of the radar to constantly remind me that they are near. The game itself demands your visual senses, but the GamePad captivates my ears and plays on my imagination much more than the television.


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