2010
04.07

Who: Devel­oped and Pub­lished by Pop­Cap Games

What: Strat­egy, Action, Tower Defense with a twist

Where: Tomor­row in your back­yard, so get your ass to the market!

When: Avail­able now in the app Store for $2.99; Win­dows & Mac for $19.95

Why: Because zom­bies must die and plants are very affec­tive. Though I don’t recall plants being a rec­om­mended method for zom­bie exter­mi­na­tion accord­ing to The Zom­bie Sur­vival Guide, which by the way can also be read while doing the pooping.

I first heard about Plants vs Zom­bies through Steam. Even though it has zom­bies, and the intrigue of killing them with plants, I waited. I was hop­ing for it to be on the week­end spe­cials list or some­thing even more amaz­ing. This is until I was cruis­ing the top paid apps on my phone a cou­ple weeks ago and saw this game at five stars, over one thou­sand reviews, and at $2.99. I couldn’t pass it up.

My first expe­ri­ence with Pop­Cap Games is with the Team Fortress 2 skinned Peg­gle. This game offered an addic­tive qual­ity and level of pro­duc­tion that impressed the crap out of me, which is usu­ally invited, but I was at my com­puter. Plants vs Zom­bies is even bet­ter. Peggle’s game­play depended largely on luck (after about the sec­ond or third bounce) for a suc­cess­ful out­come. PvZ is very deep in strat­egy; derived from Magic: The Gath­er­ing or some­thing. Hence there are many effec­tive strate­gies for oblit­er­at­ing zom­bies in each level type, and it’s great fun test­ing them all,and  risk­ing more unortho­dox methods.

The Achieve­ment sys­tem helps to pro­mote these tougher meth­ods of play­ing. Recent Achieve­ment sys­tems seem to reward the player for doing an obscene quan­tity of some triv­ial task. I love an Achieve­ment that pro­poses a way of play­ing that you wouldn’t nor­mally think of. This makes those extra Gamer­score points, or the moral boost­ing mes­sage “Achieve­ment Unlocked”, more entic­ing. They add new depth to the game instead of lock­ing that spe­cial feel­ing of com­ple­tion behind a monot­o­nous wall of time sinks.

PvZ Daytime Battle

Plants vs Zom­bies at a glance plays like a tower defense game. You build some stuff that must kill some other stuff , which gets you stuff, before it reaches a goal; prob­a­bly com­prised of stuff. The title of the game should help you fig­ure some of that “stuff” out. You build plants that must kill zom­bies. Killing zom­bies gives you coins, and unlocks plants and tools. These will help you stop the zom­bies from get­ting to their goal; Your brain! Or pos­si­bly Brian. In pre­vi­ous tower defense games that I’ve played, the path to the goal is pre­de­ter­mined on a grid, or cre­ated by the place­ment of your tow­ers. In PvZ the zom­bies work from right to left in six dis­tinct rows. This puts you in a much more defen­sive posi­tion. You get a bet­ter sense of pro­tect­ing your­self opposed to tak­ing ene­mies down as they pass with­out any fear of los­ing your defenses.

The great inven­tory of foliage in PvZ is com­pli­mented per­fectly by the ranks of zom­bies they must abol­ish. You will be faced with your every­day zom­bie, well armored zom­bie, nim­ble zom­bie (they aren’t nin­jas or any­thing… though they should be), and super offen­sive zom­bies that if they aren’t dis­posed of quickly, you are fucked. Micheal Jack­son even makes an appear­ance! I knew the past few months have just been an elab­o­rate setup for the great­est per­for­mance of Thriller EVER!  There is one zom­bie that I haven’t found yet, the Yeti Zom­bie, and he just sounds epic. My guess is I have to buy some stuff from Crazy Dave, or maybe play a level a cer­tain way?

PvZ Battle Preparation

Hmm… what to choose.

The adven­ture mode intro­duces you to all your plant friends slowly, as it ramps up the num­ber, and dif­fi­culty of the hun­gry undead. You begin with peashoot­ers, lit­er­ally. These are Snork look­ing things fueled by sun­light gath­ered by (for some rea­son) sun­flow­ers. Sun­light must be pow­er­ful because these peashoot­ers fire ammo that defies grav­ity. No tra­jec­tory what­so­ever. Though the bank won’t hang on to sun­light so there is no inter­est sys­tem in this game. When the sun goes down you get an inter­est­ing array of mush­rooms, which I think are the most unique group of allies. They have their own spe­cial sun­light gen­er­at­ing shroom, but the sun­flower will also help out but at a reduced rate. The final group is the roof group. Due to the grade of the roof you must use cat­a­pults oth­er­wise you end up hit­ting the shin­gles a cou­ple rows up. This group’s high point is the corn cob cat­a­pult that shoots bits of corn and globs of but­ter that stick to your attacker’s head, stop­ping them in their tracks. The game ends in a great cli­max, but I will not spoil it for you. This is fol­lowed by a sweet Por­tal like cred­its music video titled “Zom­bie on your lawn”.

Fin­ish­ing adven­ture mode unlocks quick play, which allows you to play any of the lev­els you passed in adven­ture mode, but with all the plants you have aquired. I just now real­ized this! Start­ing an Adven­ture cam­paign after the first play through will ramp up the dif­fi­culty by allow­ing Crazy Dave to select some of your plants. The level must be com­pleted using these, and whichever you choose for your­self. This game just keeps giv­ing. I won­der what hap­pens when I do this a few times. Maybe I get the Yeti Zom­bie! I’m going to keep playing.

PvZ Battle for the roof

He cat­a­pults bas­ket­balls and has but­ter on his head. Teehee

Quan­ti­ta­tive review:

  • Game­play: 9.4 - Pop­Cap has taken what you know about tower defense games and has slapped it in the face,  thrown in some zom­bies, armed you with plants, and pro­vided modes and lev­els to sat­isfy your deep­est zom­bie bru­tal­iz­ing needs. With all the action on the screen I was sur­prised how infre­quently I mis­placed or selected the wrong weapon due to the touch inter­face. While plac­ing flora, a press will high­light the grid­ded square and a release will plant it. I didn’t play the PC ver­sion, but I’ve read some of the fea­tures and this one is a bit infe­rior in con­tent. The big brother includes a gar­den mode where you grow stuff and get money or some­thing? I don’t care, I’m sick of grow­ing vir­tual stuff.  The game modes that are included, and are likely not named as fol­lows are:
  1. Zom­bie Nut Ball Bowling
  2. Horde Defense Kill Time Fun
  3. Whack-a-Zombie Dead Some More
  4. Mini-Zombie Explo­sion Fest
  5. Risky Trea­sure Hunt… Jar Things

PvZ mode selection

  • Visual: 9.6 - The art­work is superb. There is a ter­rific level of detail built into this small screen, and it man­ages to main­tain a very clean and user friendly expe­ri­ence. Every­thing feels alive with fluid idle ani­ma­tions. When the action begins, the peas squash, the water­mel­ons explode, and zom­bies loose limbs and heads as you would expect. I did notice some slow down when sev­eral zom­bies, dozens of pro­jec­tiles, explo­sions, and fire filled nearly every pixel of the screen, but it didn’t affect inter­ac­tion. I blame the 3GS.
  • Sounds: 9.5 - From music to sfx this game deliv­ers. Every­thing from ter­ri­fied nuts being devoured to moan­ing and decap­i­ta­tions are well rep­re­sented. All to a fan­tas­tic musi­cal score.
  • Pre­sen­ta­tion: 10.0 - Pop­Cap does it again. I hon­estly can­not think of a neg­a­tive thing to say and must go against my “noth­ing is per­fect” men­tal­ity. Plus I can type what­ever num­ber I damn well please!!!
  • Zom­bieism: 9.7 - The style and diver­sity of zom­bies inhab­it­ing this world is ter­rific. They come at you in every way you can imag­ine, as well as ways you should have to save your brain. Again you should prob­a­bly read The Zom­bie Sur­vival Guide. It kicks my last reviewed game’s Zom­bieism score in the teeth. Zom­bie scuba divers, dol­phin jock­eys, min­ers, and mecha zom­bies = AWESOME!
  • Over­all: 9.6 — Plants vs Zom­bies is filled with loads of zom­bie dom­i­nat­ing fun and I highly rec­om­mend it. If you have already played it on PC then you aren’t miss­ing any­thing besides the porta­bil­ity. Imag­ine sit­ting on the bus, your friend’s lap, or in my case often the toi­let. At your dis­posal, a plethora of deadly flora and very deserv­ing zombies.

How do I know they are deserv­ing? If you really have to ask me why zom­bies are deserv­ing of peas and cab­bage in their face until point of death, and then prob­a­bly a few more just to make sure, “Dou­ble Tap”, then you are likely a zom­bie your­self. A zom­bie that has evolved beyond the con­fines of sin­gle thought brain temp­ta­tion and decided to browse the inter­nets, find my site, and real­ize the threat that is upon you. Upon com­ple­tion of this sen­tence you will likely go on a plant mur­der­ing ram­page, but instead take this chance to browse more of my blog, leave some com­ments, and maybe tell your friends about it. I like zombies!

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