Date: 02-13-2011 01:02
Author: Chris Engle

PDC profile: Chris

The zombie apocalypse is here and mobs of zombies are coming to get your brains. Your last line of defense is gardening skills and the battle ground is your grassy lawn. The epic show down between botanicals and the zombian horde is imminent!

Protect Your Home!
Plants vs. Zombies is a unique Tower Defense game that involves you growing plants on the lawn to hold back the zombie hordes and to protect your brains. On the lawn you have rows to defend, and each row has a lawn mower on your side that defends your house. If a zombie makes it to the lawn mower, it launches and mows all the zombies in that row; however, if a second zombie gets to the end of the same row again with the lawn mower gone, your brain gets eaten and you lose.

Upon beginning the main game mode, called ďAdventure," you are given your first plant and a tutorial ensues. As levels progress, you unlock more plants, and in turn, face more diverse and deadly zombies. To grow plants, you must collect Sun pieces, which fall from the sky or can be generated from certain plants such as the Sunflowers. Once you have enough Sun pieces to grow the plant of your choice, you simply select it and place it on your lawn where you believe that it will assist you the most. After a plant has been purchased, there is a recharge time that you must wait before you are allow to planet the same plant in a different spot. Waiting time varies on each plant type, ranging anywhere from a few seconds to what feels like a minute. You initially only get 6 slots to keep 6 different plants, and once you unlock more plants, youíll have to choose what plants to use before the round begins.

"Adventure" has 50 levels that are broken up into five groups, with each group after the first adding unique gameplay elements. The night time levels don't have any Sun pieces falling from the sky due to the Sun having set, and the backyard levels contains a pool that requires you to place lily pads in order to defend the rows that are all water. Here is a brief list of the many different types of plants you can obtain; Peashooters that shoot peas, Cherry Bombs that explode a 3x3 area, Hypno-shrooms that turn zombies against their friends, and so many more that itís almost ridiculous. The 5th level of each group is always a mini-game that divert away from the main gameplay. One such mini-game has you bowling zombies over with Wall-nuts. While every 10th level marks the end of the particular group of levels, and presents you with a challenge where a conveyor belt along the top of the screen randomly generating plants for you to use to defeat the zombies. Overall, the variety found in "Adventure" kept things spiced up and had me glued to the game. This is pretty impressive since I don't often get hooked on this kind of game.

More Ways To Play!
Beyond "Adventure" lies just a few more game modes. There is a Versus mode, a Co-op mode, Survival mode, Puzzle mode, and a Mini-games mode. You must play "Adventure" to gradually unlock and gain access to these modes of play. Versus allows you and a friend to go head-to-head, with one player being able to control the zombie team. Co-op allows you and a friend to play many challenging stages as a team against the zombies. Your partner gets their own slots for plants and their own separate collection of Sun pieces. This makes teamwork a must or neither of you will survive. The Mini-games are fairly wacky, such as battling zombies that have plant heads, or playing a slot machine to get seeds to plant. Survival has you facing increasingly harder waves of zombies over a longer period of time. Puzzle pits you against various challenges that you must solve with your wits. I would have really liked to have played some of the multiplayer game modes but didn't have anyone local to play with. Overall, I found the additional modes fun to play, if only for a little while.

Extras!
During the course of playing the game, you can occasionally collect money for killing zombies and for completing levels. Money can be used to buy extra things from your neighbor, Crazy Dave. Dave has lots of helpful items for you to buy out of the trunk of his car, such as extra seed slots, high-end plants that can only be purchased, and other items that will assist you throughout the game. You can also view letters you have gotten during your Adventure. There is an Almanac which gives you descriptions of both the plants and zombies. Most descriptions are funny while others are just a tad cynical, but I suppose that can be funny too. There is also a leader board, which allows you to compare your house to your friends' houses and view the global leaders for Survival Endless. Progressing through the game makes your house and lawn better by adding things such as water fountains and other trophies to your yard, so the better your house looks the more bragging rights you get, if youíre into that sort of thing.

Wrap Up
Normally Iím the type of gamer who is into shooters or action/adventure games, but every once in awhile I like to switch up and play another genre. With that said, Plants vs. Zombies is a great game for anyone who enjoys casual games that require a little bit more thought, as well as, for anyone who wants to take a break from competitive games. The graphics are on the cartoon-ish side, but drawn well. With a single player mode along with variety of other modes, plus some extras, the game is a great addition to anyone's game library. The leader board is a nice touch to the game that can add a slightly competitive feel to the game. The solid gameplay can keep you distracted for hours, almost turning you into a video game zombie! To top things off, this title supports in-game music via XMB which makes me extremely happy. With all aspects of the game in mind, I honestly think my only major disappointment is the lack of online play. Local multiplayer only means less fun for me because I canít play with others any time I want to. If you donít mind the game being local only though, I highly recommend this game to anyone wanting to see some head-to-head plants versus zombie action.

Plants vs. Zombies was developed by PopCap Games. The game is priced at $14.99 in the North American PlayStation Store. Iíve currently put in about 10 hours worth of play and thoroughly enjoyed watching the zombies being dominated by my plants.




8/10
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