Plants against Zombies…who will win?
Over the past couple of years, PopCap have transformed themselves from Bejewled peddling no-bodies to one of the leading developers of the casual gaming phenomenon. They have revolutionised themselves with several outstanding hits such as Peggle, Bookworm, and now Plants vs. Zombies. PvZ is the latest of an undeniably outstanding crop from PopCap, and it asks the question- what other zany ideas do these wonder-devs have in their locker?
Mankind’s greatest fear has been realised- a zombie outbreak of massive proportions has occurred. You have holed yourself up within your home, and have taken to finding a means of protecting yourself. Shotguns? Psh. Fire? Hell no. Plants, that’s the answer. Good old flora comes to your rescue as you try and ward off swathes of the living dead with Peashooters, Cherry Bombs and Jalapeños, in an effort to survive until rescue. The game employs a pretty basic version of strategy gameplay. There are lanes that zombies wander down. You fill these lanes with plants in order to stop the zombies in their eternal quest for brains. In order to grow these plants you need to collect sun, which will fall from the sky during daytime, and can also be collected via various growable plants that you unlock as you progress through the game. It’s simple on the surface, but it gets steadily deeper with the inclusion of Torch wood, which lights any projectiles shot behind it on fire, or the Wall-nut, which can be used to halt oncoming zombies. The game also throws new challenges at you in the form of various levels that take place at night, in the middle of a pool, and atop the roof of your house. The gameplay may be simplistic, but it’s insanely addicting, and you’ll find yourself coming back to it long after the main adventure mode is over and done with.
Simplistic enough to attract new players, but has enough depth to keep them playing for a long time.
On the subject of game modes, there are an abundance in PvZ. You have your standard Adventure mode, which introduces you to the different settings, plants and zombies that appear throughout the game. Then, when you have completed that, you unlock Mini-Games, Puzzle Games, Survival and the Zen Gardens. Theses are where you spend a large amount of your time with PvZ, whether you’re watering your plants in the Zen Garden, or ploughing through wave after wave of zombies in Survival. The Mini-Games and Puzzles are fun as well, though they get a little repetitive, and rarely stray from the formula of the main game. My only real gripe is that all these modes aren’t playable from the start. They are what will take up the majority of your play time with the game, so having to play through the entirety of Adventure mode just to unlock them is annoying, though understandable, as inexperienced players would have probably felt a little overwhelmed to start with. The variation within all these game modes is remarkable. They all add layers previously unthought of to the game, and most importantly, they’re all incredibly fun to play.
The graphics in PvZ are what you’d expect from such a game. They are clean, clear and exude happiness. Do not expect large levels of detail or texture. They are simple and to the point, much like the game itself. This doesn’t mean that the game is ugly, because it certainly isn’t. It’s a 2-D game that looks happy and fun, but it certainly isn’t on par with other, more sophisticated games. It is what it is, and though it may be simple, it certainly isn’t ugly.
The audio in PvZ is great, but rare. There is a catchy theme tune, some small sound effects, and of course the lovable, raspy, zombie voices. Other than that, there isn’t much audio to be heard, which is a shame, because most of what is included adds to the humour and general mood of silliness to the game. There is enough to gratify the price point, but this is a game that very rarely does just enough. It pelts you with dozens of variations on it’s formula, so that there is just enough audio is somewhat annoying, though in a spoilt way.
PvZ is the perfect casual game. It resides in the ‘dream zone’ of casual video games, where it’s simplistic enough to attract new players, but has enough depth to keep them playing for a long time. It’s funny, happy and brilliant, and at only £6.99, it’s a recession-busting steal.
The Bad: Some mild repetition; Audio is simplistic; Game modes aren’t unlocked from the start;