Tuesday, December 11, 2012

ZombiU Is More Polarizing Than Justin Beiber

     It was only a matter of time before I used Justin Beibeirberbler in one of my post titles. This is the internet, after all, and its primary purpose is to slowly coerce you into having an opinion about meaningless pop symbols.

     I might be wrong about that.

     Anyway, you might have noticed that my banner is in reference to that other thing that was in my title. I don't honestly recall the last time I saw so many divided opinions on a game. Metacritic's listings of Critic Reviews place ZombiU anywhere from forty-five out of a hundred to a ninety-two out of a hundred. Huhwhazzuh? Hurnnnnggngraflblagh? Thpbhphthhththth. That's pretty much all I have to say about that.
     I mean, it's at times such as this that I need to know- don't we have a scientific way of deducing, for instance, how good a game is, or more specifically, how good a game's graphics are? Perhaps I should avoid asking rhetorical questions, but let's categorize this.  ZombiU is graphically on every side of town. Occasional jaggies and low resolution textures still peek in now and then. Having played the game, I can tell you that it isn't a concern. Environments are 90% dark. Dark as in, you feel like the need to turn on a flashlight. Dark as in sometimes, while playing in the daytime, you will have a nagging urge to find a light switch until you realize that it's just the game and it isn't dark outside. While you are nervously squeaking like a toddler playing tag, you often overlook low-res textures. Why? Because even if you could see them well enough to care, you would be too focused on not having your face eaten by this.
     Also, it should be pointed out that having good ambience and lighting goes a loong way towards relieving technical concerns. I'm not the only one who has noticed this, either. For instance, check out this video. Look at that rain. LOOK AT IT
The environments are spectacular in this game. There are no (correction, very few) Halo-esque set pieces that make you feel like a tiny ant in a world of giants, instead the game relies upon mostly tight corridors. Despite that, the hallways and rooms are punctuated with painfully bright lights that spot your screen with lens flare (which has, for once, found a practical placement in a game), and windows reveal a desolate landscape, simultaneously fiery and vividly gloomy, to coin an oxymoron. The world appears as if seen through the lens of a Canon- slightly fuzzy around the edges with some mild, murky discoloration, and all in the name of atmosphere. You're always on the inside, looking out. You get the feeling that the camera isn't you peering into the game world, but someone in the game peering at you, distantly but intently watching your plight from some hidden room.


     At once, I felt trapped in this game. I was surrounded on all sides by an amorphous, fluctuating horde. When you can't see them, you know the zombies are coming. When you are greeted by a sudden red blip on your radar while out searching for supplies, your blood turns cold and you ponder returning to the safe house and never coming out- but if you stay there, you have no chance to get out. So, you nervously make your way out into the world, struggling to stay alive and not knowing from which direction death will come at you next. If you die, you lose your character forever and he/she is replaced. You lose your weaponry and supplies, and the only way you can recover them is by killing your former, zombified self. Progress is slow for all but the most intrepid survivors. Zombies aren't made out of paper, each one is your equal in physical prowess, and you can only win through the intelligent usage of the tools at your disposal. Misstep, and you'll be dead before you can regret it. Frankly, the world is daunting enough that I have to will myself to play- but that makes me love it all the more. I feel real tension, actual foreboding, and I just want to get out alive.

     Long story short, I have to ignore the naysayers regarding this game. I'd like to lend them some credence, but I have no reason to. Well, I suppose I'll tack one word of caution onto this summarization. If you plan on playing multiplayer- and you should, because if you don't, you are missing out one of the most unique usages of the Gamepad thus far, and one of the most creative 2-player games I've played in years- buy a Pro Controller. DO IT. The Wii+Nunchuk implementation is terrible. Looking to the left or right results in a spiral of death, attempting to look down results in a trampoline of death. Just don't- don't. Don't do it. DONDO EET.

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