Plants vs. Zombies
|a game by||PopCap|
|Platforms:||XBox 360, PC, Playstation 3|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 7 votes|
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|See also:||Zombie Games, Tower Defense Games|
An acceptable response to brazenly self-asserting wackiness in a game's title is probably outright repulsion. Stalin vs Martians, Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar - your gut reaction is to groan and roll your eyes so hard that it hurts to blink. What's wrong with simply calling your game Turning Point: Fail of Liberty? Or Soldiers: Heroes of World War IP.
Plants vs Zombies quickly kicks that cynicism. In its bleakest description it's a tile-based tower defence game in which zombies lurch from the right side of the screen to the left, while you place anthropomorphic plants to defend your lawn from the attack. It's cute, clean, wacky fun that for a while appears to be a throwaway, casual game from that timesink manufacturer PopCap.
Soon, as you could have guessed, it turns into cute, clean, wacky and sinisterly addictive fun. The sedative effect of planting your units is alarming, and while the low-level strategy won't be found taxing in the slightest, the gentle, creeping introduction of new plants and new enemies provides compelling impetus to keep playing. In fact, every level introduces a new unit, eventually expanding your available plants to the point where choosing your leafy battlements is half the challenge.
You're forewarned of the kinds of zombie you'll face in a level, from plain zombies, to zombies with bucket helmets, to zombies riding dolphins, to zombie bobsleigh teams, and dancing Thriller zombies. You're given no clue as to the secret hidden abilities of the newly discovered ambulatory corpses, instead you learn as you go, with your findings recorded in the curiously witty zombie almanac.
As you play, a secret mountain of mini-games and distractions piles up back at the menu screen, lying in wait for that moment where you think you're ready to leave the game. Zombie bowling, the glorious Zen Garden, and the one with the vases with zombies hidden inside them, they all prove to be as heinously addictive as the main adventure is. I've only felt this way about a game once before, and that was the first time I played Peggie - Plants vs Zombies is as simple an idea as PopCap could manage, and one whose system of rewarding the player for every moment they surrender is as refined as the Half-Lifes and Total Wars of the world.