There's no denying that Gameloft's titles are always of the highest quality - you only have to look at the N.O.V.A or Modern Combat series to see that their products are shot through with triple-A production values.
What's lacking is originality - that spicy taste of something new that makes you sit up and take notice. There's nothing strictly wrong with their approach, and it's a strategy that's made the company rich, but just once it'd be nice to see the clearly talented developers try something new.
Alas, Zombiewood isn't that first step into a bold new world that some of us have been longing for. It's polished, it's entertaining, it's a game about shooting zombies, and in a way it brings to light the very best and the very worst of Gameloft's vices and virtues.
You play as a rectangular jawed stuntman with a penchant for trucker hats and a taste for extreme, daring violence. California has been taken over by flesh munchers, and you're essentially the star of a series of zombie action thrillers who's given tasks to complete by a hack director.
Almost all of them involve shooting, which is good, because the game is a twin-stick, top-down shooter. You move your erstwhile stuntman around with the left stick, and fire with the right. It's a well-implemented, comfortable system, and leads to plenty of satisfying carnage.
The rest of the UI is cluttered with a variety of different numbers, buttons, and clocks counting down. Half of them tell you how much currency you've got, while the other half give you information about the level you're trying to complete.
There are challenges attached to each of the levels, and these give you reels. Collect enough reels and you unlock the next level. Or you can spend some real life cash on one of the game's three currencies in order to buy them all instead.
Throw in an interesting multiplayer mode that sees you betting in-game cash that your friends and rivals can't beat your scores and you're left with a game that's stuffed to bursting with chunky content.
The levels are reasonably varied, and while most of them focus on slaughter they swap and change their objectives to keep things fresh. Sometimes you're escorting bratty children around a post-apocalyptic city centre, while at others times you're searching for the keys to release a damsel in distress from a cage hanging precariously close to a group of flesh-munchers.
There's nothing hugely innovative or revolutionary on display, but there's enough going on to push you onwards, and cutting down the zombie hordes is a pleasantly squelchy experience.
Coins earned by completing missions can be spent on upgrading your weaponry, although some of the better upgrades are time-locked, requiring you to wait until they activate or shell out some cash to get them straight away.
There's certainly a lot of freemium content in the game, as you'd expect, but in spite of the multiple currencies it's never particularly overwhelming. You can ignore it if you'd prefer, although the only way to buy health packs is with one of the tougher-to-acquire forms of cash.
Zombiewood isn't a breath of fresh air, but nor is it a rancid blast of halitosis. It's another Gameloft game that's a lot of fun, does everything pretty well, chucks in a few in-app-purchases, and then leaves you to your own devices.
As ever, there's potential for something great, and, as ever, Gameloft never quite sees it through. Zombiewood is as polished as we've come to expect, crammed full of content, but just lacking that twist of originality that would elevate it to greatness.