Plants Vs. Zombies Review


Zombie apocalypse games might be the new World War II first-person shooter, but that title will never apply to Plants Vs. Zombies (PVZ). For the uninitiated, PVZ is a game by publisher PopCap games. They have a history of making some of the most deceptively addicting games in existence with Peggle, Bejeweled, and PVZ. Since first releasing on the PC, PVZ has been on the iPhone and iPad. Now it is on the Xbox Live Arcade and brings the same addictive gameplay with more modes that make this game impossible to refuse.

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The story goes a little something like this: zombies are taking over and the player protects his house by planting an army of plants to fight off the zombie hordes on the lawn. The premise is totally irreverent and silly, but that works in the game’s favor because it is totally unique. The best way to describe the type of gameplay is calling it a hybrid puzzle/tower defense game. Players collect sun power and use that as currency to build plants on the lawn that destroy the attacking zombies. Each plant does a slightly different thing, which is important for all the different types of zombies, hence the puzzle elements. It’s all done with a Saturday morning cartoon graphic style that emphasizes how ridiculous plants battling zombies sounds.

Each game begins as a blank slate. Players have to make wise plant selections, because there are many different types of zombies that have specific weaknesses. There are different environments that will demand slightly different strategies as well. Daytime levels make it impossible for mushroom based plants to activate without a coffee bean, for example. It’s a fun challenge each time to not only select the right plants, but devise the perfect strategy to protect the house given the conditions each time. Games never drag on, but are never too short. That is thanks to a tightly controlled pacing that carefully balances the difficulty to the complexity and assortment of the zombie horde.

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One of the biggest challenges for this version of PVZ is this is the first time the game has appeared on a console where the control method is pretty rigid. Thankfully, PopCap thought of this challenge way ahead of time to make controlling non-cumbersome. In this type of game where quick reaction time is needed, the approach to the button mapping, with convenient shortcuts, make PVZ easy to navigate even as the situation looks dire. If the gameplay starts to feel stale, PVZ will infuse some fresh modes with slight changes to the formula that will open the player’s eyes to how flexible the game is.

The biggest new feature to PVZ on the 360 is the fact there is now a competitive and co-operative multiplayer modes. The competitive multiplayer has one player attacking with zombies while the other player defending with plants. The player who plays as plants will have to build a solid defense while attacking targets on the zombie side. It is a unique mode, but the problem is that zombies always seem to have the upper hand since plants aren’t very offensive and it is hard to nail the targets if the zombie player sends a wave or two of cheap zombies down the lawn. Co-op has players working together to fight off the zombies. With two people planting defenses, the game can get a bit easy, but the level of fun doesn’t take a dive.

The epic struggle between plants and zombies is an arcade game that cannot be missed on the 360. The uniqueness of the title coupled with gameplay that is fun and addictive makes PVZ a treasure to add to any console digital library.