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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

PopCap Gamse

 

Developer

PopCap Games

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

May 5, 2009

 

 

- Addictive, puzzle-like game play

- Great variety in weapons and enemies

- Appealing graphics

- Intuitive controls and interface

- Re-playability extended by fun mini-games

 

 

No variable difficulty settings

Adventure mode offers little replay value

 

 

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Plants vs. Zombies

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

plants vs zombies          plants vs zombies

 

Plants vs. Zombies could hardly miss being a huge hit for PopCap Games.  After all, it combines the popular tower defense genre with the hot video game theme of the current generation—the zombie apocalypse.  So, it was no surprise when PopCap reported that Plants vs. Zombies was the casual game juggernaut's fastest-selling game of all time.  What is a bit surprising is just how fun and deep the game  turns out to be.

 

At its core, PvsZ is a straight-forward tower defense game.  Instead of curvy, convoluted paths for the enemies to transverse, PvsZ gives the player six parallel rows that he must place defenses on to prevent the zombies from reaching his or

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her home.   Sun drops fall from the sky to be collected by the player.  These, combined with the sun drops produced by some of the player's plants are used to buy defenses for the yard.  The zombies enter from the right and make their way right-to-left toward the home.  If a zombie makes it past all of the defenses and into the player's home, the round is lost.  Simple.

 

What separates PvsZ

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from its tower defense brethren is variety—in enemies, in defenses, and in environmental effects.  Nearly every round of PvsZ introduces a new weapon and/or a new zombie.  The basic zombie simply moves in a straight line across the yard toward the players home.  These zombies are easy targets.  Other zombies are differentiated simply by their extra level of toughness, represented by protective headgear and clothing.  As play continues, the zombies become more and more tricky.  Some can fly; others can swim.  Still others can summon dancing zombies into the middle of the battle.  Each new zombie breed brings with it a new challenge.  Usually, the player is helped along by the addition of new weapons and items (like a tall cactus to combat the balloon-elevated zombies).  While playing, I was constantly amazed at the variety Popcap had thrown into the mix.  Just a few stages in, there were more enemies and more items than could be found in a half-dozen competing tower defense games—and many more surprises were upcoming.

 

The coolest and most unique aspect of PvsZ is the changing of environments.  The game begins in daylight and feeds the player a constant drip of sun drops to buy items.  Soon, night comes and the flow of sundrops ends, leaving the player to build up resources using the energy producing plants.  Later, elements like fog and gravestones further complicate things.  Going along with these changes is the constantly evolving zombie horde and plant arsenal.plants vs zombies

 

If the main game was all there was to PvsZ, it would be well worth its price tag; however, there is much more to the package.  As the player advances in the Adventure mode, he or she will have the opportunity to open up mini-games, puzzles, and, eventually, a survival mode (hey, what's a zombie game without a survival mode?.  All in all, there is a tremendous amount of content for a budget-priced game.

 

There is a lot to love about PvsZ.  The action is fast-paced and engaging.  The graphic design is cute without being annoying.  The variety that the game throws at the player is easily tops in the genre.  The only complaint I really have involves the game's difficulty.  There is a good bit of challenge, especially when a level contains multiple enemies that require specific plants to combat and the scarcity of item slots really causes problems.  Unfortunately, this difficulty all occurs before the action gets started.  Once I had puzzled out which items I needed to take, all was well.  I died a few times when experimenting on later levels, but I would really have liked to have had an option to increase the difficulty settings.

 

That said, Plants vs. Zombies remains a triumph for PopCap.  The game joins their Peggle at the top of the addictive, just-one-more-level-and-I'm-off-to-bed, list.

 

- Danny Webb

(June 18, 2009)

 

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