Sunday, October 30, 2011
Game Review: Plants vs. Zombies (PopCap Games, 2009)
Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense game by PopCap Games where the objective is fairly simple - using houseplants of all sorts, keep the zombies out.
With every wave the player successfully fends off, the zombies increase, but so do the plants at the player's disposal. Originally starting with pea shooters and sunflowers, who draw sunlight and allow you to grow more plants, the game also provides such defensive fauna as cherry bombs, walnuts, and exploding potatoes. The zombies start out fairly straightforward in the classic shambling style and whispering "Braaiins", but get craftier - some ride zambonis, some dance, Saturday Night Fever-like, onto the scene, and some drop from the sky. They will eat through the plants if they make it through the wave of attacks, and if they eat their way through, the player's last resort are the lawnmowers set up as a last line of defense. Increasing levels see battle go from the front lawn of the player's home to the backyard (and setting up defense by the pool) and the roof. A neighbor, "Crazy Dave", appears periodically to give the player a chance to purchase additional bonuses.
The game is available for limited play on PopCap's site; it is also available as a download for Apple iPod and iPad systems, Android, Nintendo DSi, PlayStation 3, XBox, and the multiplayer platform Steam. PC and Mac users can also buy a copy for their computer. There is a Plants vs. Zombies wikia where players can read about walkthroughs, cheats, and new releases.
The game is shoot-'em-up fun without any horrific or realistic violence. Zombie's heads pop off, but it is not like watching a George Romero film. The flowers are drawn as cute animated characters, and the zombies are so ugly they tend to be cute more than horrific. If the zombies make it into the house, there is a crunching sounds and red letters appear on the screen saying, "The zombies ate your brains!" but that is the extent of the horror in this game. The game helps kids plan strategies, figuring out how much they want to spend on their flowers, placement to best fend off their zombies, and when to spend funds with "Crazy Dave".
The game is the fastest-selling PopCap video game and has been nominated for Interactive Achievement Awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences ("Casual Game of the Year" and "Outstanding Achievement in Game Design"). The game has also received nominations in "Best Game Design", "Innovation", and "Best Download Game" for the Game Developers Choice Awards. (Wikipedia)