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SummaryHilarious and very addictive strategy game
The GoodPlants vs Zombies is the best game I've played for a long time. It's basically about placing traps of various types (plants) in your garden to stop the enemy (zombies) from walking across it and reaching the left edge of the screen (where they would eat the player's brains).
The player starts with a small choice of plants, but more and more are gradually unlocked as they progress through the game. Each new plant opens up possible new strategies to defeat the zombies, as most (or maybe all) of the plants are really useful and have a unique function. Similarly, new types of zombies appear in later stages of the game, having stronger armor, being faster, being able to jump or climb over an obstacle, or fly over the garden. Each of these must be countered with the right combinations of plants. It's a lot of fun to figure out which plants are the most effective against a particular group of zombies while being affordable enough to be deployed in time to stop them. Not only do new plants and enemies appear throughout the campaign mode, but the playing field changes as well. There is a simple front lawn in the early stage, which is followed by night levels (where mushrooms can be used in addition to the normal plants), swimming pool levels (with additional aquatic plants), and levels on the roof of the house later in the game. Each type of level requires different strategies as well. Overall there is a huge amount of variety in the game, and discovering all the choices is a lot of fun by itself. In addition the learning curve is also beautifully balanced and new elements are introduced one by one, so Plants vs. Zombies should be perfectly accessible for real casual players.
Not only is the game-play excellent, but it's beautifully presented as well. In fact my favorite part of Plants and Zombies was the humor which appears in many different forms. The game is loaded with puns (in the names of the plants, the zombies and the mini-games), the drawings and the animations are very funny as well, and the descriptions of the individual plants and zombies in the lexicon are just hilarious. Not to mention the music video played when you finish the campaign.
In addition to the campaign mode the game also contains numerous mini-games, the best of which were the great I, Zombie (where you take the zombies' side and have to invade the garden) and the Vase Breaker, especially the 'endless' versions. Several of the mini-games are parodies of other more or less famous PopCap games, like Bejeweled or Insaniquarium.
I think the difficulty could have been a bit more challenging. I think I played through the campaign mode for the first time without losing any of the levels, except for an early level in the final (roof) stage which wasn't that difficult but I simply didn't have a good strategy for the roof yet, and the final fight (against the appropriately named Dr. Zomboss). The game was perfectly enjoyable this way, but having more challenging levels (without having to play through the campaign several times, which gradually increases the difficulty) would have been great.
I thought that several of the mini-games weren't that interesting. They were OK to play through once, but I didn't really feel like replaying them, except for the 'endless' games.
Although this isn't really something that I didn't like about the game strictly speaking, I would have loved a competitive multiplayer mode (plants against zombies), especially since the I, Zombie levels were so much fun.
Finally, Plants vs. Zombies was so addictive that I had to delete it since I couldn't stop playing even after having played through the campaign twice and having unlocked everything there was in the game (including having grown the Tree of Wisdom so tall that it didn't have anything more to say).
The Bottom Line
Plants vs. Zombies is always being described as a tower defense game. This doesn't do this game justice in my opinion, nor does it accurately describe the game-play of Plants vs. Zombies. I understand that the developers were inspired by tower defense games, and that there are indeed similarities, but Plants vs. Zombies is a completely different experience and a great deal more entertaining than any of the real tower defense games. It's much more complex, strategy plays a far greater role here than fast reflexes (which are absolutely required for the various flavors of Tower Defense), and frankly it's a completely different game.
So whether or not you like Tower Defense, or casual games in general for that matter, try Plants vs. Zombies. It's a simple but full-fledged strategy game, great fun, and the best game that PopCap has ever released.