Game: Plants Vs. Zombies
Format: iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad
What would you do if the zombie apocalypse landed on your lawn? Listeners to the podcast will know that our own Braindead_Hero has got his plans worked out, but are you prepared? Obviously your first port of call is to get yourself down to the florists! Because there’s only one way to tear through a horde of zombies and come out smelling of roses. That’s right, plants!
You may remember PopCap from such games as Peggle, Bejeweled and Zuma. They are the super tongue in cheek, developer that takes casual games so seriously they actually take the time to make them good. With a gradually growing (which is more important than some realise) garden of high quality titles there doesn’t seem to be any stopping PopCap.
Zombies have been a massivly recurring theme over the last few years in the gaming world. In fact there seems to be another zombie game every few months, especially with all the Left 4 Dead games due to be released in 2010!
So what is it that sets Plants vs. Zombies apart from all the rest? Well, for a start, you’re not fighting with shotguns, machine guns, bazookas or grenades. Your only defence for keeping the zombie apocalypse at bay is a bunch of photosynthesising, mindless (but don’t tell them I said that) flowers. However, this bunch of flowers has a trick up their sleeve. I apologize, the plant puns just keep on coming!
In fact Plants vs. Zombies isn’t like much else out there. Although it can be classed as a tower defence game (using various methods to defend your home location, usually with stationary turrets), it’s unique for a number of reasons; the massively varied set of plants and enemies, utterly charming presentation and humour and simple yet highly strategical gameplay.
The aim of the game is to stop the zombies that are advancing across your lawn from reaching the house and eating your brains. The game is completely “U for Universal”, so there’s no blood and guts. Instead, the killing is all done in a light and comical fashion. You plant sunflowers to get sunshine, which can be used to buy plants. With each level, there is a limited number of slots for plants, so you must limit the choice to between 6 and 9 plants per level; buying extra slots as you play through the game. You can then lay as many of these 6 to 9 plants as you can afford.
Te arsenal includes; pea shooters, which are your bread and butter for much of the game, potato mines that explode into mash, kernal-pults that lob sweetcorn and blocks of butter and the almighty doom-shroom, a nuclear explodinating mushroom with a bad attitude. Get it? Mushroom cloud. I love it. With 48 plants, including add-ons to enhance them during levels, there are plenty of combinations that can be used to make a successful crop.
You’ve got to make sure you have the best team of plants to take down the undead army. For example, if you don’t bring any sunflower plants, you won’t have enough sunshine to produce your army. A good technique is to plant spud bombs to kill the first couple of zombies, then plant 2 whole rows of sunflowers to cultivate a massive amount of energy to make as many pea shooters as needed. The quicker you can get out those first sunflowers, the better. Further on in the game this will allow you to use the most expensive of plants from the start. Some people, however, won’t like wasting a slot on potato mines because as a level gets busier they can become a bit more useless due to the time it takes for the mines to arm themselves.
With so many different plants there are plenty of ways to beat any level and my wife has vastly different tactics to my own. Speaking of my wife, she loves this game even more than I do. She is a very (beautiful) casual gamer, mostly favouring the likes of Peggle, Mario Bros on the DS and Sonic. When Plants Vs. Zombies was released on PC, it took a bit of coaxing to get her to play, but when she did it soon became her favourite game. After she completed the campaign mode the first time (in 1 night) she cried, as she thought that was the end of the experience. She got over it when she found out there are loads of other modes and that the second play through of the main adventure mode is different. She was more than ecstatic when the iPhone/iPod Touch port rolled around.
Along with the main campaign mode, at around 4-5 hrs, you can extend the experience by completing chosen levels from the game and bonus games, that crop up during the adventure mode too. These features are only unlocked once you complete the main game. The second play through of the game has Crazy Dave picking 3 random plants for you, meaning less of your own tactical gameplay. The PC version has much more in the way of mini-games and puzzle modes where you can play as the zombies, but these are left out of the port. But with the iPhone version being around a fifth of the price, I’m not complaining.
Plants Vs. Zombies is a breath of fresh air in a stale overpopulated app-world and is probably the best game, right now, on the iPhone/iPod Touch. At the tiny, seed-like price of £1.79, it’s a must buy. Skip over to iTunes right now to buy it. Then come back and finish reading this of course, leaving your thanks and praise at the bottom of the page . Praise me now!
Review Round Up
Graphics: 4/5 – The art style is charming and funny. The character design is brilliant. It’s also very sharp, so it looks better than the PC version when it’s stretched to full screen :O
Sound: 4/5 – There’s some good voice acting from the Zombies (braaains…) whereas the plants put on a pretty muted performance. The music is distinctive, but not very noticeable during the gameplay. The ending music video (above) is hilarious and catchy, appreciated all the more once you’ve played a lot of the game.
Gameplay: 5/5 – I defy anyone to not enjoy kicking a zombie’s ass using a bunch of flowers. It’s magic.
Longevity: 4/5 – For an iPhone/iPod Touch game it’s right on the money. 4-5 hrs to get through the first play through. Unlockables will extend this and you will inevitably want to play it through again.
Overall: 5 Zombie Michael Jacksons out of The Zombie Jackson 5 – Yes, there’s a Michael Jackson Thriller Zombie. Best game on the AppStore, I can’t wait for a sequel. My wife thanks you PopCap.
It seems I got all caught up in the love and forgot to be objective! I need to put some negatives in here… Errm… I’ll put down some bullet points because they aren’t important enough to flesh out.
- The difficulty level is a little low until the final level.
- There’s nothing new for people who have played the PC game.
- Survival Mode should have been in there.
- You have to be quite careful to pick the right spot to put things, as righties will obscure the view of the approaching zombies with their big, hairy hands.
- There’s no online integration.
- It’s too awesome.
Ok I’m done, now get out of here you crazy kids.