Horror Hoedown Showdown: Plants vs. Zombies Review

Hello Moar Powah! and welcome to another edition of “Horror Hoedown Showdown.”  Today we’ll be looking at Plants vs. Zombies. Truth be told, I never bothered to play it until I picked it up for my Android phone this past summer (it was released on PC May 5th, 2009 but the Android version came out May 31st, 2011).  And even then, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if it hadn’t been on sale on Amazon.  I was late to the party, but I’m glad I got in on it.  So without further ado, let’s get started!

What makes PvZ so popular is presentation.  When developing PvZ, director George Fan intended on balancing the game between a “gritty” game and a “sickeningly cute” game.  The zombies in PvZ are hilarious; they’re so innocently designed, and many variations exist.  There were pole-vaulting zombies, football zombies, disco zombies, and dolphin-riding zombies to name a few.

However, despite their innocent and funny designs, they were indeed a dangerous adversary, especially when mobbed by 7 different types at once.  Of course the other appealing aspect of the game are the things defending you from these silly zombies–cute plants.  As many types of zombies that existed, there existed an equal number of different plants, all with their own charm.

Pea-shooter plants with angry eyebrows, walnuts with eyes wide open, and sunflowers with the cutest smiles are but a few of the plants that exist.  These different types of zombies and plants were not just for show though; every zombie had to be countered in a different way, and there existed a plant that could do just that.  Magnet plants could pull any metal object off zombies, like bucket helmets and ladders.  The cactus plant could pop balloons that zombies would use to fly over your defenses.  There are many moar examples, and I’ll leave you to explore on your own if you haven’t played it yet.

While presentation is indeed valuable, the most important part of any game is the gameplay.  PvZ is a tower defense game but not a traditional one.  I’ve played many tower defense games, and they all follow the same formula: mazing and juggling.  Any good TD player knows how to maze and juggle correctly.  However, that gets boring after a while.

Fan and the team behind PvZ wanted to bring something new to the TD genre, and thankfully they found those tactics boring as well.  Enter the idea of lanes.  What makes so PvZ so addicting is the strategy involved with plant placement.  Each lane has 9 spaces, so you have to be very mindful of what types of zombies are attacking.  Oh did I forget to mention that you can only choose 8 plants per mission?  Strategy is a must!

Also, the only resource in PvZ is sunlight, which is needed to place a plant.  Sunlight will regularly drop down during each mission, but it won’t be enough in later stages.  Assume that 10-12 of your spaces will be sunflowers or sun shrooms in order to produce moar sunlight.  Strategy is a must!

plants-vs-zombies-rooftop-levels

There are also different scenarios  during adventure mode.  For example, you start out in the front lawn, and it’s all nice and sunny out.  But the second set of levels is set in the night.  What does this mean?  Well there’s no sunlight of course, which means that it’s harder to place plants.  You have to use shrooms, which are either free or really cheap.  I mentioned sun shrooms before, and these guys will be your best friends in the night levels.  There’s also a set of levels with a pool (that takes up 2 of the 6 lanes), which requires crafty placement of water-only plants or lily pads which land plants can be placed on.  The roof levels are also pretty fun, as there’s an incline which impedes the shooting of your plants and use of catapults is required).  Again, strategy is a must!

But wait, there’s moar! There are a ton of different modes besides the “Adventure” mode.  These include a survival mode with hard or normal mode, a puzzle mode, and a selection of mini-games which include zombie-themed versions of other PopCap games like Bejeweled.  The game also features a “Zen garden”, where players can care for plants they acquire from fallen zombies during game play.

The Xbox Live Arcade and DS versions of the game include 5 multiplayer modes, both co-operative and competitive.  The XBLA version also has additional mini-games and a virtual house where players can show off their achievements to friends.  Oh yeah, you might have figured this out already based on what I’ve said, but PvZ is available on so many different platforms!  Originally released on the PC, PvZ has made its way to iOS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Android, and the DS.  Amazing!  And check this out! George Fan also estimates that half of the game’s sales are from hardcore gamers.  You heard me right.  So what are you waiting for?  If you haven’t played PvZ yet, go do it now!  It’s not too late!  Pick up some merchandise as well 😉

Rating: ★★★★★

I know I’ve gushed about a lot of things, but I forgot to mention how awesome the music is.  Just check out one of the songs below.  They’re all composed by Laura Shigihara.  She has a YouTube page, and she performs a lot of the songs from PvZ on there.  Check it out!

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Nick

Just a simple man, trying to find his way in the universe. Image hosted by servimg.com

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