e've seen it before — zombies eager to devour our digital brains. In fact, it's hard to have not played a game in which the undead don't play a feature role. That being said, I'm fairly certain you've never played a game that pits sunflowers and peashooters against the aforementioned. No, only PopCap could come up with such a title known as Plants vs. Zombies, and only PopCap could make the experience remarkable on every level.
Don't open that door.The concept of Plants vs. Zombies is similar to most tower defense games. You have a central location (in this case, your house), which must be defended from waves of attackers (see: zombies). This time, however, instead of using double-barreled shotguns and machine-gun nests to fend of the cerebrum-snackers, you plant flowers in strategic arrangements that would make Martha Stewart herself proud.
In order to purchase plants for your garden, you rely on the sun for your currency. Though you will gain sun over time in the day levels, purchasing sunflowers provides a steadier stream of income — something that's vital for the particularly nasty zombies. As you progress through each wave you earn new plants and abilities to utilize against an increasingly difficult mob — a mob that will use screen doors, scuba gear, and other strange (yet oddly effective) objects to break down your door.
Though the game may seem basic at its roots, there are over 40 different plants available by the later stages and choosing the right combination of flora can make all the difference. The settings also vary from a simple front yard invasion, to an all-out assault on your roof. A day and night cycle also provides an additional twist, just to keep you on your toes.
If that were all there was to Plants vs. Zombies, I would have been satisfied. As it was, I had no complaints with the game — but the unlockable extras really put this game over the top. Twenty different mini games, 18 unique puzzles and 10 settings for survival mode (which is essentially a continuous version of the standard format), and a greenhouse sub-game labeled Zen Garden provide an unimaginable source of entertainment. Throw a number of these simple, but refreshing, meta-games between levels and you'll easily find more than enough value in your copy of Plants vs. Zombies.
Even the living dead get bright ideas.
Keep that door closed!The game mechanics themselves are solid, and the variety of quality mini-games and puzzles is unprecedented, but perhaps what won me over the most, was the hilarious (and I mean bust-a-gut laughing fits) presentation of the game. The PvZ almanac (which you discover after a number of successful waves) contains descriptions of all the creatures you encounter along the way. Take this description of the Conehead Zombie: "Conehead zombie shuffled mindlessly forward like every other zombie. But something made him stop, made him pick up a traffic cone, and stick it on his head. Oh, yeah. He likes to party."
When was the last time you took the time to read about every object in the game? For me, it was never. Yet every time I encountered something new I opened up my almanac for a guaranteed abdominal workout — a testament to the quality and, I can only imagine, the laughs that went into creating this game.
I starting playing PvZ with limited expectations. After all, what can you expect from a game called Plants vs. Zombies? However, what PopCap has done not only exceeded my wildest expectations, but set an industry standard. Plants vs. Zombies has significantly raised the bar for creativity, value and fun. One thing is for sure: casual can appeal to anyone.