Whenever a video game incorporates movies, we’re usually pretty forgiving about the filmmaking process. We want to play a good game, so it shouldn’t be an accurate representation of waiting for lights to be set up between takes. So a game about making movies during a zombie apocalypse isn’t in itself a bad idea, but Zombiewood may not make the best use of its awesome premise.
In Zombiewood, zombies have taken over Hollywood and a producer decides to shoot movies during it. This is a bad idea from a budget perspective, let alone a survival one. You can only count on the zombies for one take, and getting coverage of alternate angles would be impossible. The premise, however, is simply an excuse to give you missions for blasting zombies in different ways.
The touchscreen controls are like the old Smash TV arcade game, with two virtual analog sticks on the bottom left and right of the screen. The left stick controls your movement and the right stick shoots in whatever direction you point it. It’s helpful to be able to walk backwards or sideways while shooting in any direction. I don’t think the radius is truly 360 degrees though, so you’ll be frustrated trying to shoot those zombies that keep weaving between your gunshots.
The movie missions are a great way to give you several mission goals per level. There’s of course the basic level of surviving the mission and killing all the zombies. You may have a non-playable character to protect from zombies too. You can also get bonuses for time (completing quickly or surviving for several long minutes), destroying props or finding hidden trophies. It adds great replay value because you may only complete one goal per play, or try to complete them all in one go.
The cartoony recreation of Hollywood is good. You can tell if it’s the Chinese Theater, Walk of Fame or other landmarks renamed slightly for copyright purposes. This is definitely the cartoon version of zombies, and that’s okay. I don’t need hardcore gore and realism to enjoy the zombie apocalypse. There’s plenty of destruction to accomplish, but the most disappointing thing about Zombiewood to me are the zombies themselves.
Unfortunately, there’s just nothing unique about these zombies to distinguish them from any other generic horde of video game enemies. There are big Frankenstein zombies that shoot lasers and take longer to kill, but that’s like Abobo in Double Dragon. Some enemies are bigger than others but they’re not bosses. These zombies stumble and stagger relatively fast, at least as fast as your character can run. It’s not Left 4 Dead running zombies, but there’s no strategy to it. You just blast as many as you can and get out of their way, which may be fine for a fun game, but the premise of shooting a movie has you hoping you can do more in a scene.
There’s a social aspect of Zombiewood where you can challenge Facebook or GameLoft friends in the Arena and bet game dollars against them. Coins you collect during missions can be used to buy upgrades – weapons, health packs, powerups, outfits – or, of course, buy them with real money in-game. Some of the more powerful weapons actually make it harder to shoot. A shotgun may be more powerful than a machine gun, but it doesn’t shoot continuously. The bonus weapons are cool though, when you swing baseball bats and guitars at zombies for a few seconds.
Zombiewood is a very busy game. Each level is non-stop shooting and running and collecting things and using power-ups, so it’s fun enough and doesn’t give you much time to think since there's so much happening all at once. With the sound on, it’s a little obnoxious with the music, gunshots, zombie groaning and beeping warnings. It just frustrates me a little that there’s nothing more to the game than running and shooting. Maybe I just want a little more subtlety in my Hollywood zombie games.