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ZombiU: A survival horror epic in the making?

Death isn't necessarily the end in Ubisoft's Wii U exclusive shooter...

This article originally appeared in Nintendo Gamer magazine.

Funny game, ZombiU. Not funny ha ha, obviously - although we did have to stifle a giggle when a pop-up zombie made one of our grandiloquent chums at Edge Magazine do a shriek in his mouth - but funny in how it goes about getting the most from Wii U.

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As a brand-sparkling new IP from Ubisoft (if you ignore the 1986 Amstrad CPC adventure game Zombi, natch), ZombiU has invited inevitable comparisons with Red Steel, which was seen as Wii's great hardcore hope during its own launch window period back in 2006.

ZombiU however has learned well from its forerunner's mistakes. While Red Steel struggled valiantly against the Wii controller's limitations - leading to flaily swordplay and dizzying cameras - ZombiU actively works with the limitations of the GamePad controller, and in doing so it sets a precedent that future Wii U action games would do well to follow.

BREAKING PAD

Perhaps you're wondering what those limitations might be. After all, isn't the Wii U GamePad supposed to be the daddy of all controllers? It's got a freakin' TV built into the middle of it, ferchrissake. Its only inherent limitation should be whether you can lift the thing or not. (And in practice it's so light we were paranoid that the thing would be carted off by a parade of leaf-cutter ants the moment our backs were turned).

Well, it's like this. It's true that Wii U's dual-screen setup is a revelation when used in certain ways - a few moments on Nintendo Land is all that's needed to prove Nintendo's much-heralded 'asymmetrical multiplayer' is a concept with merit, while the charms of playing New Super Mario Bros U in the bed/hammock/futon/chaise longue are obvious, particularly if, like us, you live with an X Factor-obsessed tyrant.

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But when a Wii U game asks us to shift our attentions from one screen to the other in quick succession, it's a recipe for brainachery. Concentrating on two busy screens simultaneously is a mental impossibility. It's why it's illegal to text and drive.

Developers appear to have two options then: either use the two screens in tandem sparingly, or not at all. But Ubisoft Montpellier's survival horror thriller carves open a third option for itself: it builds its suspense entirely around having to juggle between the two screens...

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