August 16, 2009

JUNIOR ZOMBIE WEEK: Plants vs. Zombies (REVIEW)

REVIEW

Plants vs. Zombies

Developer: PopCap Games
Platform: Windows and Mac OS X
2009


RATING:

4.5 / 5 zedheads




Ever since PopCap Games released the incorrigibly cute “Zombies on Your Lawn” music video to advertise Plants vs. Zombies, I've been eager to try a hand at this new game. Now that I've played it, I wonder how one can best summarize the purely addictive fun that is Plants vs. Zombies except with a wide silent grin.

I know – nonverbal forms of communication don't exactly work well in the world of blogging, but Plants vs. Zombies is so fun and unique that it leaves you grinning from ear to ear.

In Plants vs. Zombies, you have to protect your home from a variety of cartoon zombies who are shambling across your lawn. If they cross your lawn, they'll get into your home and the game will inform you, over the sound of your blood-curdling screams, that “THE ZOMBIES AT YOUR BRAIN!” To keep your cranium off the menu, you have a variety of cartoon flowers at your disposal that you can plant on your lawn, but these aren't your garden-variety plants. Despite their adorable cartoon faces, these flowers are zombie-killing, offensive vegetation that include projectile shooting flowers and mushrooms, literal cherry bombs, potato land mines, carnivorous venus fly traps, and more. They are the only things protecting you from becoming lunch, but you can only plant them if you've collected enough sunshine icons. The most powerful plants cost the most sunshine points, which can be collected from the sun icons that fall from the sky or from the sunflowers you plant.

The real joy of Plants vs. Zombies is playing the game for the first time when you don't know what to expect. At the end of the early levels, it's exciting to see what new plants you'll get. Also, the zombies are as varied as the plants and have equally special abilities. The average zombie is no threat, but sometimes their heads are protected by traffic cones or buckets, and sometimes they carry screen-door shields. As the game progresses, you will encounter specialized zombies like the pole vaulting zombie, football zombie, and newspaper zombie. Each has its unique strengths and weaknesses, so you'll have to fend them off with the right combination of plants while collecting sunshine points and various other bonuses and power-ups.

Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense game. The lawn, the game area, is a 50-square grid of five rows and 10 columns. Should a zombie manage to cross a row from the street-side of the grid to the front of your house without being killed, a lawnmower will appear to kill that zombie and all other zombies and plants in the row. However, once that row's lawnmower is used it cannot be used again. This means any other zombies that manage to cross in that row will cause you to lose the game.

Plants vs. Zombies is hours of fun for gamers of all ages. The further you progress in the game, the more plant and zombie varieties you encounter as well as various mini-games and other environmental changes that require new strategies (ex. night time play and the introduction of a swimming pool).

It is not a game that you could ever define as boring. Cute, quirky, funny, and goofy perhaps. But never boring.