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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...

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PISTOL PALACE

In ZombiU you see, survival comes tough and concentration is everything. Its zombies aren't the same namby-pamby undead shufflers you see in Resident Evil or Dead Rising - these suckers will forgo the frilly foreplay and knock you off the mortal coil with one swift chomp. Your character is equipped with an anti-virus syringe, which he or she will automatically deploy into your assailant's neck the first time you get grabbed. Get hooked a second time though, and it's curtains.

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Such slight margins of error are unfortunate if you find yourself - as we did in this year's Gamescom hands-on demonstration - in the tight, winding corridors of a post-apocalyptic Buckingham Palace. With very little wiggle room to play with, survival instead depends on clever inventory management. Guns, mines and rations can all be scooped up and stored in your backpack, and you can hotswap between each item by tapping on the touch screen.

But here's where the GamePad barges in to leave its own teethmark on the experience. By default you have six inventory slots to hand, but your trusty rucksack can hold more than that. To equip a new item you simply open it up and drag and drop your new selection into an available slot.

Except it's not that easy: the world doesn't stop spinning while you rummage around your backpack - instead, you've got to keep one eye on the on-screen action while you fumble around for your keys. With zombies willing to bust out of the woodwork at a moment's notice, re-tooling your inventory is a fraught affair. But not nearly as fraught as stocking it in the first place.

CADAVER TWIST

Weapons are, to put it mildly, scarce. To fill up your cupboard properly, you'll need to veer off the beaten track and hunt them down. To facilitate this, you're equipped with a black light scanner, which is activated by holding the GamePad in an upright position and panning around the environment using the MegaPad's gyroscopic sensor.

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Again, doing so leaves you wide open to a surprise zomb attack, but the pay-off is that you can scan corpses for items, and locate secret rooms by following the white arrows painted on the walls, ceilings and doorways. (Best not to ask what exactly they've been painted on with).

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