I've got to admit, it's getting pretty hard to be enthused about zombie games these days. Not that there's anything inherently bad about undead annihilation, but the market does seem to be getting over-saturated. Zombiewood [Free] tries to make a name for itself by combining familiar zombie killing mechanisms (in the sense of dual-stick shooting) with thematic settings and freemium elements. While most would rightfully be leery about any free-to-play elements, Zombiewood does a good job incorporating a dual-currency system into an otherwise solid game, making it well worth checking out.

Zombiewood puts you in the role of a stuntman turned hero after a zombie invasion overtakes Hollywood. After figuring out that the mass slaughtering of undead makes good film, your director decides to put you in a variety of flicks all centered around zombie killing. Each movie is divided into scenes with each featuring a variety of objectives to accomplish. Hit enough objectives and you'll unlock a new movie to play in, with additional objectives to take on. It's a standard story system, but I still enjoyed the way levels were divided into movies and scenes. The use of multiple objectives per scene is also a nice way to encourage replayability.

Meanwhile you'll be taking down the zombie horde in basic dual-stick shooter fare. Players earn money (more on the dual currency below) and experience with each level, which allow you to buy and upgrade weapons, armor and supplemental "boosts," which allow you to complete more objectives (and unlock more movies, and so on). It's a solid system that uses a tried-and-true formula and just works. Control-wise, Zombiewood controls like most dual shooters, although I really would have liked the option for floating sticks (as opposed to the fixed ones).

Since Zombiewood is a free-to-play game, I'm sure one of the more pressing questions folks might have is how restrictive the freemium elements are. Based on my play-through, I'd say that the freemium is more of an annoyance than a game-breaker. Freemium elements center around the game's dual-currency system, with regular coins being collected and awarded through standard play while 'bucks' are doled out on a much rarer basis.

While bucks are hard to come by, I was pleased with how easy it was to earn coins. Completing movies allows you to earn 'royalties' which amounts to free coins every few hours, which also alleviates most coin collection issues. This makes it easy to buy and upgrade the standard weapons available for use. While Zombiewood does lock a certain amount of weapons, armor and power-ups behind their premium currency, they feel more like win buttons than items actually required to pass levels. While later movies do get tough to earn all the objectives with regular weapons, I never felt I was being restricted from progressing.

In fact, the biggest annoyance I have with Zombiewood are the 'waiting periods' that the game employs when upgrading weapons and armor. There's really no reason to force players to wait (or shell out bucks) in order to use upgraded weapons and armor and is a blatant money grab. Fortunately, this is one of the few areas that feels like that, as the rest of the freemium system is surprisingly reasonable.

Another weird annoyance deals with Zombiewood's visual engine. Despite the game not looking particularly taxing, I encountered multiple occasions of slowdown on my iPhone 5, particularly in scenes with large amounts of enemies. Granted, the problem doesn't elevate to a significant disruption, but it was surprising nonetheless. Outside of the slowdown, I thought Zombiewood did a good job with its overall graphical style and presentation.

As sad as it sounds, it's rare these days to find a free-to-play game that offers a good balance between actual gameplay and having to pay for extras via freemium elements. For the most part, Zombiewood does a great job hitting that balance. There's a load of content initially available and there's little in terms of hard pay-walls, with premium currency restricted to special weapons and boosts not necessary to progress. If you're not tired of zombie dual-shooters yet, I highly recommend giving Zombiewood a try.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • JBRUU

    A good Gameloft freemium? Be it so?

  • http://twitter.com/twittedapps twittedapps

    Graphics are nice. But after playing Half Brick's Age of Zombies... the gameplay needs a lot of work. AoZ rocks from my thumb point of view.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SCZWWDYPQL3543GYHA7URU25V4 drew

    I really liked this but I deleted within a week because it took so long to level up it wasn't funny. I would consider re-downloading it if Gameloft fixed the issue. Oh well.

  • Decaf Table

    I can't stand playing games with choppy frame rate. Passing!

  • Hehateme78

    Let me preface this post w/ the fact that I cannot stand Gameloft! With that said, this is one of the best shooters I played on the ios. The story makes it very intriguing and the graphics and controls work perfectly. To me, this game is a good mix of Guerilla Bob and Free 2 die with a better story and graphics. The fact that I can be Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman and more is even a bigger plus. I have honestly already put a good 8- 10 hrs into this thus far. Between this and Punchquest, Freemiums have evolved exponentially.
    Unsuprisingly, Gameloft has made this game all about iap's. You alluded to the fact that amassing coins was not too cumbersome. However, it takes an inordinate amount of time to level up which renders coins useless if 1) they limit your ability to upgrade your current gun and 2) you can't buy the good weapons unless your at a high level. Thus, you get frustrated after putting in soo many hours and you end up dishing out real money ( at least $10 for a decent gun and $20 plus for really good) to progress. I figured out that they even designed it so that you level up contingent on how much time you play rather than how successful you are. Thus, even if you get all gold oscars for the different stages, you still level up as slow as someone getting a mere 1 or 2 gold oscars a stage. I have put in at least 8 hrs and only at level 11 which doesn't get me any of the good weapons. Leave it to Gameloft to make such a great game only to be ruined by their intolerable greed. If there was a way to vote them out of the ios, I would unequivocally place the 1st ballot!

  • http://twitter.com/_KID_ANDROID_ KID ANDROID

    It's a great game but needs work. It needs customizable size and placement of the dual stick controllers and I've finished the arena challenge and won but was never awarded my cash. they did fix the game resetting and losing all your advancements which is good but like I said more work is really needed. - KID ANDROID. ( Team.Android.Canada)

Zombiewood - Guns! Action! Zombies! Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4