#955 Plants vs. Zombies

Posted: 8th May 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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52nd game played so far

Genre: Strategy
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: PopCap Games

It is time yet again for us to step into the realm of strategy games. Seeing how over 11% of games on the list fall into this genre it is a path we need to tread often. Then again it is not often we are able to do this with cute cartoon visuals. To the review!!!!

Our Thoughts

So, here is the game that inspired zombie week… and by week we mean two games with zombies in the title. Well, since we don’t do more than two games per week, it makes sense that way. If we had some Resident Evil it would have made as much sense… but we’re leaving that until we have pills to help us cope with the jumpiness. Yeah, we’re sticking with a friendlier type of zombies.

Plants vs. Zombies is remarkably cute and fun for a game featuring brain-eating monsters and living and at times carnivorous plants. Don’t forget the cameos of the Michael Jackson zombie whose special power is the summoning of backing dancers. Okay, so sometimes it is scary. Depends on your definition really… but there are times in the game where things do get quite near the knuckle of whether you are going to complete the level. Once you figure out a decent system the game throws you a bit of a curveball,  like the inclusion of water-based levels or zombies who drive vehicles. Tombstones that suddenly double the amount of zombies you face. A lot of hours has already been put into this and we are yet to get to the robot-zombie. Or a Zombie Yeti.

In the same way we have not even begun to scratch the surface of the vast array of mini games to offer. People have a bit of a pop at Popcap games for marketing lowest common denominator games for bored housewives but a lot of care and attention has really gone into this game to flesh it out so much that it can take a very long time to get everything you can out of it. This doesn’t feel like such a simple ‘housewive’ game at all. Sure, it’s not the 3D engine graphical masterpiece with plenty of FMVs and lots of story, but it’s a game that’s fun and feels very large. There’s dozens of different plants you use to defeat dozens of zombies in several different game modes – minigames and different versions of normal levels. Also there are the funny little notes left by the zombies that politely request you to hand over your brains. It would be sweet if I had not had a zombie-related nightmare earlier in the week. Yeah, that was an unfortunate night, and I got to experience another downside of that.

To be fair, the zombies are quite creative in getting to your brains. They use inner tubes to swim through your pool, they go polevaulting to avoid your barriers and use patio doors to protect themselves from your guns. Luckily genetic engineering has progressed to such a stage where we have created various plants and fungi to counter-act these obstacles. These are zombies which know how to use catapults… which we use palm-tree shields and melon-paults against. Then there are those poor Wallnuts (I GET IT!!!) which get eaten as zombies try to get to your front door. I feel more sorry for their tall equivalents who actually start to tear up a bit when eaten. The most twisted version of all, however, is found in the Zombotany minigame, where you must defeat zombies with plant heads, the same plants you have to plant to keep the zombies out. Yes… it does look a little odd. It’s sick, that’s what it is! Unlike the bowling mini-game which is bad-ass. Yeah, your wallnuts sometimes become ballnuts. Oh the hilarity. Thank you!

Don’t let the Popcap name or the simple graphics mislead you, this is a good game. Easy to start with, hard to master, never impossible to defeat, but it has its moments where you wonder. If it gives you cartoon-style nightmares… remember to pack your peashooter.

Final Thoughts

Within a short period of time we appear to have covered a number of games developed by Popcap. When you look at games such as Peggle, Bookworm and ones we have not yet covered they are very different breed compared to Plants Vs. Zombies. If anything this game was the first time they were able to discard some of the stigma that had been previously forced onto them… then again in a world where Angry Birds is the big thing then maybe the landscape of games is changing slightly… but I digress. Where was I? Brains?