When the zombie apocalypse comes, the only thing standing between you and the ravenous hordes of undead is your skill in the garden.
Yes, thatâ€™s the message to be gleaned from the runaway hit Plants vs. Zombies, an addictive, amusing â€œcasualâ€ game that offers incredible depth and longevity for its $20 asking price. Combining a friendly, cartoonish aesthetic with some easy-to-learn, hard-to-master gameplay, the whole package comes together nicely and offers plenty of fun and a few nice laughs for fans of the walking dead..
The gameplay is a variation of the popular tower defense style of real-time strategy. In brief, the playerâ€™s home is on the left of the screen. The zombies start from the right, heading left. If they manage to cross the screen and get into the house, brains are eaten and the game is over. To stop them, the player has a wide variety of (cute) weapons in the forms of plants: sunflowers fuel the army, peashooters shoot peas, walnuts provide a barrier to temporarily halt the zombiesâ€™ advance, etc. Thereâ€™s a wide variety of weapons and tools available to the player, to accommodate personal preferences and to deal with specific threats.
The single-player campaign is structured to ease players into the game and it does a fine job introducing the concepts, weapons and enemies at a pace that anyone can understand. In truth, veteran gamers who already understand the underlying mechanics of real-time strategy and tower-defense type games may find the pace a little slow except in the later campaign levels. Luckily, the games survival modes are much more challenging and should offer plenty of intensity even for hardcore gamers. In addition, a large number of mini-game variations on the basic gameplay are included, many of which incorporate elements of other popular games, from popular videogames such as Bejeweled to staples such as bowling. Fleshing this out are metagame mechanics that allow you to buy new plants and tools and raise plants for cash in a Zen garden. All told, the package is full of content and should keep gamers busy long enough to get their moneyâ€™s worth, and then some.
The zombies take the popular conception of zombies â€“ slow, shambling brain eaters â€“ as a starting point and add variation from there. The full cast of undead comprises a wide variety of silliness, some based on pop culture zombie referents, such as the obviously â€œThrillerâ€-inspired zombies, others seemingly created for gameplay purposes such as football-player zombies, Zamboni-driving zombies and dolphin-riding zombies. If thereâ€™s a complain to be made, itâ€™s that the choice to make the enemies zombies seems largely immaterial to the gameplay. Apart from a few exceptions â€“ the â€œThrillerâ€ zombies in particular â€“ these enemies could have been anything â€“ aliens, Bigfoot, monkeys, whatever. Still they are zombies, so itâ€™s not much of an issue. The plants used to defend the homestead against the walking dead are cast in the same cutesy vein as the zombies, giving the whole game a light-hearted, fun feeling. All told, if youâ€™re a videogame fan who likes zombies and likes cute, Plants vs. Zombies should be something of a dream come true.