|Publisher: PopCap Games Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: Intel @ 1660 MHz RAM: 512 MB|
Zombies might be my favorite part of the internet triumverate (being, of course, pirates, ninjas and zombies). So when a game comes out with the word “zombies” in the title I’m all over it. Enter Plants vs. Zombies from PopCap.
Plants vs. Zombies (PvZ) is a 2D tower defense game that pits a garden of botanical defenses that you must plant and manage against an oncoming and unruly horde of zombies. You place plants in available spaces in one of five different rows. The goal is to slay all incoming zombies before they can bypass your defenses and enter your home to eat your brains. You need those brains.
I knew I would love PvZ as soon as I saw the screen’s help menu which proclaims, in a squiggly scrawl, that “You win the game when the Zombies get to your houze” with a signature at the bottom letting you know that “this help section brought to you by the Zombies.” I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, but the things that make a great game are the little touches.
There’s a ton of gameplay to cover here, so let’s get rolling.
The Main GameThe core of PvZ is, as I said, tower defense. You craft a garden of plant defenses and they do battle against a zombie horde on your behalf. There are 48 different plants for you to control in the game, and a few of them have upgrades you can earn and apply as well. There are 26 different zombies to battle against (one of which is hidden until you’ve played through quite a bit of the game a second time). There are levels to be played during the day, and levels at night. There are levels in a standard lawn, a lawn with a pool in the center and up on a rooftop. Different strategies apply for each of the zombie types, times of days and locations. Combined, this makes for quite a bit of variety.
When starting up each level, you need to balance your plants carefully. You can only carry with you seven plant types at first, eventually upgradable to 10 total. However, at least some of those plants will need to be sort of infrastructure plants. During the day you’ll need sunflowers to give you the sunshine that will be your currency for being able to grow more plants. At night you’ll need special mushrooms for the same. For the pool you’ll need lily pads for your plants to rest on. On the rooftops you’ll need pots for your plants. The more weapon-oriented plants are everything from peashooters, watermelon catapults, potato mines, exploding cherries and more. The Zombies you will battle against range from your standard shamblers, to zombies protected by buckets on their heads or screen doors in their hands. You’ll have football zombies, snorkel zombies, zombies driving zambonies, zombies attached to balloons and gargantuan zombies.
Everything is animated wonderfully. The plants all have their personas and are just adorable. The plants manage to be able to look happy or fierce or grumpy or earnest or evil. They’re full of character. Even the zombies, which are essentially just a single character model in different outfits, manage to be distinct and entertaining. This is a game that’s as fun to look at as it is to play.
You’ll battle through 50 levels in the single player mode alone. This is enough to warrant the price of admission, as each level is going to take you roughly ten minutes to play through. That’s assuming you even beat it on the first go-through. Many of the lower levels are very easy. You find a groove and stay in it. Later levels, though, deal in tricky enough zombie types that you really need to be on your A Game and victory is not assured. But even after you battle through that, the gameplay hasn’t stopped.