Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Plants Vs. Zombies

Genre: Casual, Strategy (Defense)
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: PopCap Games
Released: 2009

Zolgar paid: $9.99
Beaten: Yes
Zolgar's rating: 7/10
Replayability: Moderate to High

Plants Vs. Zombies (PvZ) is one of those games which “real” gamers looked at and said “wow, that looks like an absolutely stupid game.” especially coming from PopCap (considered kings of casual gaming). However, once they downloaded the free demo and played it, they realized it was actually a very well made, fun little game.

PvZ has been called a 'gateway' game, leading casual gamers to playing “real” games. If you ask me, that's a very accurate definition of it, and it also got “real” gamers looking at casual games for entertainment (which makes it the perfect game for those of us who love both already). It's a quick, simple game to pick up, but it has a depth of strategy to it that actually makes you pay attention to what's going on.

PvZ is a form of Tower Defense game, though not in the typical sense that people are used to. The basic premise is Zombies have attacked! and you have an assortment of weaponized plants to defend your home with. Your yard is conveniently broken down in to 5 straight lanes, which the zombies are restricted to.

So as the Zombies shamble down the lanes, you place your various offensive and defensive plants. Things like Pea Shooters, Sun Flowers, Wall Nuts, Potato Mines, Chompers and so much more. Hopefully, you've built a defensive structure that provides you with an adequate amount of resources, and kills the Zombies before they reach your house. If they reach your house though, all hope is not lost! Each lane has a final line of defense, a lawn mower. If a Zombie reaches the lawn mover, it fires up and tears down the lane it's on, killing every Zombie in it. However if a second Zombie reaches the end of that lane, you're frelled.

Unlike the traditional Tower Defense, you do not get additional (resource) by way of killing the Creep, nor do you get it at the end of each wave.
There are two forms of resources in PvZ:
Sun: This is your 'building towers' resource, which comes in two forms. The first is falling from the sky in daytime levels, the second is from certain plants. When it spawns, you have to click it within about 20 seconds (I think) else it is lost forever.
Money: Money is used to purchase things like additional plant types, seed slots, etc. from your crazy neighbor. Money come primarily as random drops from defeated Zombies, as well you gain a bonus for each lawn mower remaining at the end of the level.

The game has 3 main 'stages', front yard, back yard and roof, each with a day and night phase as well. Front yard, daytime is the easiest and teaches you how to play the game, from there each one has certain special traits. Night time, of course, you get less Sun but you can use Mushrooms, which have a much lower sun requirement.. though this is countered by them not being usable during the day (without a special plant). All together totaling 50 individual levels.

If that's not enough for you, PvZ also features an assortment of mini games (such as 'Wall-Nut Bowling' where you use Wall-Nuts to bowl down incoming zombies), a puzzle mode (which I don't recall, it's not unlocked on the machine I'm playing it on now), Survival mode, and a 'Zen Garden' for if you just want to simulate a garden (with really weird plants). Meaning there's more than enough content to keep you happy for a while.

Also, PvZ has Achievements (at least on Steam), and for once we're not talking generic, pointless achievements that you earn for playing the game. Almost all the achievements in PvZ are ones that you have to do something special to get, like beating a daytime map with Mushrooms or activating Mustache Mode (which I won't tell you how to do).

As one might expect, the graphics are somewhat cartoony, however they're very well drawn, and I believe they will age well over the next few years.

Still not sure it's the game for you? Try the Demo. Remember, first hit's always free!

You can also get your fix on Android devices, iOS devices, Macs, Nintendo DS, and soon: LCD implants behind your eyelids, so you can play while you sleep. (OK, so one of those is a complete fabrication.)

(Screenshots shamelessly stolen from Impulse and Steam)

“Addictive, time-sucking games, and always a free trial version.. PopCap or PopCrack? You decide.”

Pricing and availability:
PopCap: $19.95 (wait what?)

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