Zombi (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 27.08.2015

Review for Zombi on PlayStation 4

When ZombiU first appeared, many may not have realised it, but it was originally the forgotten and canceled Ubisoft title Killer Freaks From Outer Space shown at E3 in 2011. During its long development cycle it eventually died and came back to life as the Wii U exclusive ZombiU. While it has become a cult title praised for its focus on true survival horror sensibilities like highly limited ammo, inventory compounded by very threatening enemies, and Metroid-like gear gating, the publisher might not have been satisfied with the cult status it has earned. After an ingenious title change, it looks like Ubisoft Montpellier's survival horror is back from the dead again as Zombi, but just how intact is this zombie? Cubed3 aims for the head in this review of Zombi for PS4.

Ubisoft Montpellier is best known for the Rabbids games, Beyond Good and Evil, the Rayman series, and that one King Kong game that is generally thought to be one of the better movie tie-ins around. These are developers of some of the better titles produced under the Ubisoft brand, so it's no surprise that they were able to put out one of the better (if a bit buggy) survival horror titles since Capcom remade Resident Evil.

With Zombi, the developers clearly used the film 28 Days Later as a source of inspiration for tone, story, and atmosphere, combined with gameplay elements found in Demons' Souls. Probably the biggest homage is by far the most subtle, which would be to one of the oldest Ubisoft titles: Zombi from 1986, which was heavily inspired by George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Whether today's Zombi is a sequel or reboot remains to be seen—what can be said is that this PS4 conversion is lacking compared to the Wii U version.

Screenshot for Zombi on PlayStation 4

It's frustrating when a platform like the PS4, which outperforms the Wii U in terms of specs, gets a conversion that does not run more fluidly, and in this case is missing some of the atmospheric effects. Ubisoft made very little effort when it comes to porting Zombi to the PS4; running at a measly 30 frames per second is quite insulting since it obviously does not tax the PS4's hardware at all. It was forgivable on Wii U since ZombiU was tragically rushed for launch, but now Ubisoft had the opportunity to smooth things out, yet instead took things out.

The most noticeable absence is the "dirty eyes" filter complete with subtle lens flares, which were a distinct quality in the original Wii U release. Zombi's textures were not updated either, so now everything looks low-resolution despite it displaying in high-definition. Embarrassingly, some of the old glitches that the Wii U version had patched are now present in the PS4 release, such as the player character's shadow not being rendered at all except for their cricket bat, an unintentionally hilarious glitch that breaks the atmosphere. Other gameplay glitches like item markers appearing on-screen despite there being no items to pick up occur throughout.

Screenshot for Zombi on PlayStation 4

Pretty much the entire core game is here and accounted for, except for the asymmetrical multiplayer mode, which is to be expected since PS4 controllers lack screens, and Ubisoft is clearly trying to make a return on a game that had an extensive development cycle by dumping it as cheaply as possible onto other platforms.

The core of Zombi is still quite good, since the level design follows the From Software playbook of exploration and creating shortcuts for diverse navigation. As always, dying means that character becomes a zombie and is carrying all the items he/she died with, and the newly spawned character would benefit risking the procurement of that backpack. It's a wonderfully tense and bleak situation when having to face down a zombie of a character that has been more or less the hero of the story until their demise, which is a reminder that the current character could be next.

Zombies take quite a few blows, keep coming, and hit hard, so death comes quick to those who are unprepared. Since the hero is always a regular nobody with no special training, there's no blitzing through hordes of the undead. Each encounter is very personal, combat is best described as "back up against the wall", since more than one zombie can prove to be risky. It's a very weighty yet deliberate endeavor that's designed to instill panic, and the brilliant sound design that comes with the feedback usually entails the hero frantically gasping and whimpering.

Screenshot for Zombi on PlayStation 4

Without the Wii U GamePad some of the palm sweat-inducing tension is lost, since the PS4 controller makes things too convenient. One of the worst qualities about Zombi is the absolute lack of control mapping options. While the default setup is not bad per se, in order to sprint, the left thumb-stick must be held down constantly, forcing a death grip on the controller, which is agonisingly uncomfortable.

The two bonus weapons included in Zombi that were not part of the original Wii U release are a sad, paltry excuse for the utter laziness Ubisoft has displayed when converting this to other platforms. There was an opportunity here to make an already good game with very obvious flaws better, but they didn't. Zombi is unfortunately inferior to ZombiU in every aspect. However, it must be said that there is still a pretty good survival horror underneath all the laziness and lack of polish, which is thanks to the original design team.

The price is pretty steep for a stripped-down and inferior conversion of a decent Wii U title. Perhaps if it matched the price of a used copy found in bargain bins it would be a much fairer deal. Ubisoft clearly doesn't care about their product or their customer's satisfaction, and has instead delivered the quickest of dirtiest ports around.

Screenshot for Zombi on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

The original ZombiU is probably a solid seven or eight of ten, which is only held back by technical issues. The thing about technical issues is that they can be fixed, and Ubisoft took no effort in addressing any of them, and instead took things away or clumsily refitted them in ways that don't feel natural, or betray the original designers' intentions. Only the diehard survival horror fans who missed this on Wii U would find enjoyment out of Zombi, and most other people will probably be appalled by the lackluster and shoddy conversion that Ubisoft dumped on digital marketplaces. Anyone with a Wii U will have access to the best version of this game.

Developer

Ubisoft

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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