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PLATFORM: PC
ESRB RATING: E
DEVELOPER:
Popcap Games
PUBLISHER: Popcap Games


God damn it. After experiencing the awesome time that is Burn Zombie Burn and playing the new Left 4 Dead DLC to death, I thought I had filled my zombie quota for the foreseeable future. While the trailer for Plants Vs. Zombies was amusing and the demo was fun enough, there was no indication that the game would be anything more than that.

If you haven’t tried the demo, give it a shot. And then realize that it’s just a tiny, tiny taste of what the full version entails.

This game’s great, and packed with more stuff to do than most full-priced retail games.
 
THE PITCH

Zombies are trying to eat your brains! Thankfully your plants hate them more than you do, and have mounted a full-scale defense on both your front and back yards, as well as your roof!
  
THE PLAY


Like so many other Popcap games this one’s deceptively simple at first. It’s basically a tower defense game, one where you construct defense structures and attempt to stop a swarm of enemies from reaching your base.


CHUDTIP- Try typing “future” during the game.


Of course the gimmick here is that they’re all plants (with faces!) and your foes are zombies. If they get past your defenses they’ll break into your house and eat your brains, so throw as many plants in their way as you can.

In order to purchase plants you’re going to need energy, and lots of it. Little balls of sun drift down from the top of the screen occasionally and you click on them to grab their power, but your main source of the game’s income will be made by planting sunflowers. These plants produce sun for you, and a few rows of them is essential to fund your plant army. Then you get around to placing your offensive plants, like the peashooters shown above.

At first it seems there’s not much to it besides a lot of clicking- the zombies always come from
the right along one of 6 pre-determined lines and you have only a limited
number of spots to place your plants. How hard could that be? Just you
wait…. just you wait. The swarms are on their way.

The amount of variety in plants here is staggering. Not only does it allow you to play the game your own way but it’s also essential because the zombies come in just as many varieties- everything from miner zombies that dig all the way to the back of your defenses to zombies on pogo sticks that can bounce over your plants. There are dancing zombies that look like a certain pop star and football player zombies. Every level you’ll come across a new toy to play with or zombie to face, and the game just never gets old.


CHUDTIP- Fear the “Zomboni”.


The location matters, as well. You have nighttime levels where different plants grow (mushrooms and such), levels where there’s a pool and you need water plants, levels on top of the roof where you need to place pots for your plants to grow. There’s times when fog rolls in and obscures your vision. You’re never told what exactly to expect so it really keeps you on your toes (roots?)

It’s
also the sort of game that’s impossible to put down once you start playing, yet the games are short enough that you can get a quick game or two in between work. Hell, writing this review took ten times as long just because I kept going back to the game for just…one…more.
 
THE PRESENTATION

Thankfully everything isn’t as cutesy as that music video, but it’s still pretty quirky and lighthearted. While the zombies lose arms and heads they pop off with silly noises- it’s not like there’s blood and entrails and screaming (although if someone could mod the game for that, I’d love them forever). The animations of the zombies are great and there’s such a personality to everything.

With a fun, vibrant art style and great music, this is a very polished title.
   
THE REPLAY

 
There is almost too much to do here! Besides the gigantic campaign there is an abundance of mini-games, all sorts of fun stuff that even change up the gameplay, like a Plants Vs. Zombies version of Bejeweled entitled Beghouled.


CHUDTIP-
You’ll still have to worry about zombies during these games.


There are also a couple of puzzle modes, one of which turns the tables and allows you to play as the zombies! Along with that there’s even a survival mode that will test even the best Plant masters. Plus, there is a Zen Garden where you can place plants collected from the campaign and water them to gain money for more stuff from the shop.
 
Oh, did I not mention the shop? It has more items that you can possibly ever afford, like powerups for certain plants or extra slots in your plant inventory.

Plants Vs. Zombies is truly an endless game, one that you’ll turn back to whenever you’ve got 15 minutes free.


CHUDTIP- You’ll have to beat all of the minigames, puzzles, and survival modes in order to get a gold Trophy. That Pogo Party is killing me.

 

THE VERDICT

Popcap did it again- this is the perfect casual game. Easy for anyone to get into, tough to master, and with an absolute ton of replay value.

The game is 10 bucks right now on Steam- don’t pass it up.

9 out of 10