Game Review: Plants vs. Zombies

Plants vs. Zombies

For the past two weeks, I’ve been completely engrossed in following Plants vs. Zombies. For those who haven’t heard, this isn’t about the Supreme Court case, but about the latest game from PopCap, makers of the infamous Bejeweled and Zuma games.

Planets? And Zombies? Do those even mix?

You may have seen the cute viral video that has been making its way around the net. Plants vs. Zombies is a combination of a tower-style defense game and its own unique take on an action strategy game. As one can surmise, the plot involves zombies taking over your home in a quest to eat your brains. (Sounds like a great movie plot, doesn’t it?)

Similar to tower games, zombies come toward your house in waves, with each zombie having its own strengths and weaknesses. Some wear road cones or metal cans on their heads. Some pole vault over your defenses. Some even do a little moonwalk, while others drive giant “zombinis.” Your defenses are your trusty collection of plants, ranging from those that shoot peas, to mushrooms that explode when zombies get near.

PvZ Smashing Zombies

Gameplay

The graphics and gameplay of Plants vs. Zombies are simple and fun, and really help to give the game a high degree of replay value. Unlike most tower defense games, each plant takes on a personality of its own, adding even more fun to this uniquely clever, little game. With 49 plants and upgrades and 26 different types of zombies, the game quickly moves from a simple defense strategy to more complex levels requiring higher degrees of strategy. As you progress through the game, you unlock more defenses and upgrades, including cute plants such as melon-pults and cob-cannons.

The main game is a series of 50 levels played out across five different areas (your yard during the day, your yard at night, your backyard and pool, your backyard and pool at night with fog, and your roof). Mixed in with this are 10 extra survival levels, 18 extra puzzle games, and 20 extra mini-games, based on other popular games, like slot machines, Bejeweled, bowling, and one even inspired by Portal. I was really impressed by the diversity of all the mini-games and puzzles included, as they really kept me in the spirit of the game while not letting me get bored of fighting wave after wave of zombies.

As you progress through the game, unlocking more plants and collecting coins, you can use your winnings to buy items from your neighbor, Crazy Dave, to assist you in the game, or purchase plants and accessories for an included Zen garden. The Zen garden, much like you would imagine, provides a relaxing, safe haven from the zombies where you can grow plants. Watch them grow and dance before your eyes, and before you know it, you can sell them for a profit or just keep a nice Zen garden full of cute plants.

PvZ Zen Garden

Final Thoughts

Plants vs. Zombies is available on the Mac and PC platforms and sells for $19.95. You can download a free trial version here. At the time of this release, it is not available for the iPhone, but based on PopCap’s commitment to porting its other games to the iPhone, it is likely just a matter of time. This game is great for casual play or long term, if you wish. Your progress is saved between sessions, making it easy to kick some zombies for five minutes and come back and finish them off later. But good luck putting this game down. It’s pretty addicting.

For even more fun, type “mustache” or “future” during gameplay for a good laugh.

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