We've seen some unlikely genre mash-ups on the App Store in 2012 but it's safe to say we've never seen one quite like Zombiewood. It's a top-down shooter that borrows its movement and firing mechanisms form any number of twin-stick shooters, there's the bloodlust of Zombie HQ's rampaging undead destruction, and finally there are hints of Joe Danger as you assume the role of a gung-ho stuntman filming a zombie apocalypse film amongst all the mayhem.
There are a number of movies to work through in the game, and each one is composed of a series of 'reels'. These are Zombiewood's missions and they each contain a number of objectives that reward cash and XP: clear out so many zombies in one scene, burst fire hydrants to extinguish burning cars, or just survive on top of the ever-increasing invasion for a fixed amount of time. The variety's fantastic and kept us engaged with what might otherwise been just another mindless mash-up.
As you'd expect, there are two control sticks: one for moving and one for firing. They're not the most responsive we've seen in a twin-stick action game, but they're more than serviceable. The game would also benefit from a tighter shooting angle, so you could be sure of exactly which zombie you were firing at. That's just an aesthetic preference though and we never died as a result of the controls.
Killing zombies and completing reel sections of a movie adds to your experience meter, and as you level up there's a delicious selection of weapons to acquire with your cash. A hissing flame-thrower is great for lighting up a whole batch of zombies, while laser-focused rocket launchers make about as much mess as you'd expect.
That mess used to be made up of shambling freaks of course, and there's a great array of different mobs to tackle as you bob, weave and fire your way around the environments. The most basic units will lunge at you in melee range and try to chew your face off, while other larger creatures fire sweeping laser beams from their eyes. This is certainly a game that will keep you on your toes and it requires a little more strategy than the typical sweep-and-strafe tactics found in other twin-stick shooters.
Of course, to unlock these and upgrade them to be more powerful you're going to need some cash, and the more cynical amongst you will likely be wondering how this free game walks the delicate in-app purchase tightrope. The first, dollar currency is harder to come by through gameplay and rewards with greater firepower, but there's still a lovely collection of guns to be had with the coins that are generously rewarded every time you destroy a zombie. Whatever your personal preferences, it's fair to say that the game sits at the more generous end of the freemium spectrum.
It would have been nice to see just a little more polish put into Zombiewood's controls and responsiveness, even if that was at the expense of some of the environmental detail. The stages would still look fantastic, and we'd feel an even greater connection with the glorious destruction. Still, we have no hesitation in recommending this game to any action shooter fan.
What's Hot: There's a fantastic selection of guns to drool over, some seriously satisfying rampages and great variety in the level design and objectives.
What's Not: The game would really benefit from greater accuracy in the controls.