"Can’t the Plants and Zombies Just Get Along?"
I have to admit I was a somewhat incredulous about PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies on the Xbox 360 at first. I’ve heard a good deal about the game already because of the very positive stir the PC and iPhone iterations caused. And, quite honestly, I kind of avoided the game because I think the whole zombie craze is about two millimeters away from jumping the proverbial shark. But now, I'm sitting here with the controller glued to my hands, staving off the zombie hordes and grinning in triumph as I lay waste to the undead suckers with a well-placed Boom ‘Shroom. Yeah, Plants vs. Zombies is a damn cool little game, even on a big screen and minus the touch-based controls or the mouse.
The concept here is pretty straightforward: You are a homeowner whose yard is infested with zombies, not the typical gophers or squirrels as one would expect. You see them, milling about, longing for “braaaains” on the road just outside of your property. As they shuffle towards the abode, it is your task to defend your territory by strategically placing various types of plants (carnivorous, blocking, freezing, shooting, exploding, and resource generation) in their path. You may wish for a chainsaw or a shotgun (“My kingdom for a double barreled Remington!”) but all you have at your disposal are the diverse, but rather deadly, flora and fauna.
- This game sure has a good sense of humor -
I did think, however, that this experience would suffer from lack of touch screen or mouse control, which offers a bit more speed and precision, vital in tower defense-style games. But, it didn’t take long to discover that this thought was erroneous. The Xbox 360 controller works well; it is a snap to choose new plants and spot them. Also, digging up plants by holding down the “B” button is most convenient, as is sucking up the sun drops by depressing either trigger. Well played, PopCap, well played…
Plants vs. Zombies moves at a good pace and constantly introduces something new - environments, plants (48 varieties), zombies (26 types…my favorite being the disco zombie), time of day, etc. Upon defeating a particular level and picking up a new seed bag, I find myself strangely compelled to play the next level…and the next one…and the one after that, even though I should have eaten/done some housework/gone to sleep quite some time ago.
For the Xbox 360 version, PopCap added a ton of extra content and modes of play. The Puzzle and Mini-Games modes offer a variety of challenges that do unexpected things with the core mechanics of PvZ, including a few mini-games where they pay homage to their own properties, Bejeweled and Heavy Weapon. The Survival modes offer a chance to flex your tower defense muscle, as you try to survive increasingly difficult waves of zombies, something the main campaign doesn’t really offer. The new modes in this version of PvZ are the Versus and Co-op modes, with the latter being pretty much what you’d expect from the idea of co-op PvZ. The versus multiplayer is a nice diversion, as one player controls the traditional plants and the other plans the zombie onslaught. No online mode(s) though for any of this, which I do find a bit puzzling.
- New content is well parsed out, keeping things interesting -
Overall the game looks razor sharp, colorful, and well designed. This is a constant for the majority of PopCap titles, Peggle being the other that immediately comes to mind. Variety and humor (especially the interactions with your aptly named neighbor, Crazy Dave) shines through in almost every aspect of this game, and the zombie design is rather brilliant, although no Michael Jackson “Thriller” zombie will be encountered for XBLA people.
There are many tower defense games on the market for both the consoles and handheld devices, but it’s still easy to recommend such an engaging and well made game as Plants vs. Zombies to both tower defense veterans and noobs alike. 1200 Microsoft points ($15) isn’t free, but a worthwhile investment here, as this is one of the better titles you’ll find on Xbox LIVE Arcade.
GameDynamo's Score for Plants vs. Zombies (X360)
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