by Staff Writer
February 17, 2010
OverviewPlants vs. Zombies (PvZ) is one of the most hyped iPhone games of all time, and after months of anticipation PopCap has finally released the PC port. PvZ is basically a tower defense game that has been simplified for the casual user (what PopCap is known for), and has morphed into lane defense. You place plants strategically in lanes to defend your house from waves of zombies. To grow plants you will need sunshine which appears randomly, and is produced by sunflowers (sun shrooms too). With sunshine you can then plant your plants with each one requiring different amounts of sunshine, and all having to recharge before planting again.
FeaturesAdventure mode is the heart of the game featuring fifty levels across five environments. The five environments are the front yard at day and night, the backyard with a pool, backyard at night with fog, and finally on the roof. Once you beat adventure mode you unlock quick play mode which allows you to replay any level of adventure mode, as well as the bonus levels. In total there are 49 plants that you unlock one by one from level to level. There is sunflower, pea shooter, walnut & tall-nut, fume shroom, and doom shroom, plus squash, and kernel-pult to name a few. 26 types of zombies are included as well from the basic wearing a suit zombie to bucket head zombie, screen door zombie, dolphin rider zombie, and even zombie bobsled team. In the game there is a progress meter at the top of the screen showing the current zombie wave, and when the next huge wave will arrive. An almanac is included describing each of the plants and zombies, and each one includes a little story blurb that are absolutely hilarious. There are 13 iPhone unique achievements, but no other social features to speak of.
The GoodPvZ has so many great things included, it's difficult to decide where to begin. The best aspect is the simplified casual version of tower defense giving you lane defense. It's a unique take that just has a surprising connection where you mindlessly stare at the screen, and keep playing. In every level you start with the bare minimums, and the zombies come at a very slow pace. Then as you build up your defense, you face more and tougher zombies. It's great to have plants not only attack, but also in the way so that the zombies have to eat through them one by one to reach the house. When they're eating the plants it stalls them a little for your next row to keep attacking. Once you reach the dark, pool, and roof it can be quite challenging with a lot of action on screen. You will need five rows of attacking plants, and still need some bomb plants to get through the levels. It's engaging hectic fun with tons of different types of zombies on screen requiring varying plants to deal with the pool, fog, and slant of the roof. The sunshine barter system is really well done, and keeps you thinking of what to plant, and when to do so. During the harder levels you will need to plant a defense, and dig up and plant stronger plants all in one level to pass. In the dark levels sunshine is much harder to come by, so you need to be wise with everything that you do. Overall the sunshine keeps you paying attention, and makes it really tough to just sit back and relax. As you unlock new plants it becomes a tougher decision of what plants to include in your limited seed slots. You need to value cost, plus recharge rate, how much sun you will need, constant attackers, defenses, or one time attackers. An absolutely wonderful save system is included which picks up the exact instant you left off. The game is designed brilliantly, and the entire interface is adjusted for the iPhone. Most of the screen is the play area that becomes full of hilarious plant and zombie animations. Each character in the game has a unique personality and style that is coupled with the absurd premise of the game to make one of the most memorable playing experiences ever. The outstanding PvZ soundtrack is included which really enhances the gameplay, and is essential (PopCap please update Peggle). The iphone specific controls are extremely well done whether it's tapping where you want to place a plant, or dragging it to a specific spot with the x and y axis highlighted. Also as the sunshine appears it's just a simple tap to collect it, which is so much easier than a mouse click.
The BadThe game is not all flowers and sunshine. The biggest problem is that the game isn't a full port, and is lacking all of the great game modes outside of adventure mode which truly made the PC game. There are no mini-games, puzzle mode, survival mode, or zen garden which is a huge disappointment. Another problem is that the game is for the most part too easy, and there are no different difficulties to change that. Most levels are rather boring, as there is no real challenge. The most challenging parts of PvZ PC version are the extra gameplay modes which aren't included in the iPhone version. It really would enhance the gameplay if the zombies moved just a tick faster. Despite popcap's fifth game on the iPhone they still haven't figured out how to include any type of social or replayabiltity features. After adventure mode there is no reason to play it again, with no survival mode, online high scores or achievements. You will lose a couple levels one time through, but the second time you know what to do which is an extra problem if you've played the PC version.
The VerdictPlants vs. Zombies is unique casual fun that only PopCap can provide. The game creates a special connection, and keeps you playing despite it feeling somewhat boring at times. The production values are simply amazing, and all of the animations and characters are second to none in terms of style and personality. The iPhone version does lack the extra gameplay modes which really make the PC version great. Also there is no replayability factors taking advantage of the iPhone platform. Overall Plants vs. Zombies is worth it, but definitely is lacking in a few areas keeping is from being recommended higher. ***To win a copy of Plants vs. Zombies leave a comment below stating your favorite plant or zombie or both, and why. The contest ends February 18th, 2010 at 11:59 PM PST. Please include a valid e-mail address so we can contact the winner. US itunes accounts only, sorry. Good Luck, and have fun!