As far as gaming reputations go, PopCap Games are right at the pinnacle of all things great and good. With titles like the huge worldwide smash Peggle, the addictive Zuma, and the lovable Bookworm Adventures, PopCap have built themselves into a well recognised brand that stands for addictive gaming.
Their latest title, Plants vs. Zombies, is yet another simple twist on a well-loved genre. This time a heavily streamlined version of all those Tower Defence games that have popped up over the last 5 years.
On one side of the screen is your homestead. On the other, a bunch of stylised cartoon zombies that are presumably desperate to munch on the gooey brainy goodness that’s waiting inside. In between is a large patch of garden with set paths for the zombies to slowly trudge along.
This being PopCap, it’s not the usual zombie defence of shotguns blasting off heads, and ultimately a scene smothered in creepy gore. But instead you have the opportunity to plant a wide variety of cutesy plants in order to keep the oncoming hordes at bay.
To have the opportunity to set down these plants, first you need to collect enough sun. Little sun icons appear at defined moments in order to keep things trucking along, but your first batch of plants will almost always be a handful of sunflowers which create oodles more of these dazzling little icons that you simply need to click on to add to your tally.
Once you have the sun, then you can start defending yourself. Simply click on the icon of the plant you wish, and then set it down in the required grid spot. The first defensive item, the peashooter, fires green projectiles towards the enemy that’s on their line in order to keep them back.
As you progress through the main adventure mode you’ll unlock and stumble across a huge mass of different varieties of plants, each with their own plus and minus points. Some will guzzle a zombie in a split second, but then are open to attack as they chew down on their prey. Others will not attack but merely prevent zombies marching onwards until they’ve gobbled the offending item up.
Similarly there are a large variety of zombies. The standard shambling monstrosities are only the start. As things progress they’ll get quicker, faster, stronger, and some will even have the ability to hop right over your first line of defence. As easy as things seem during the first hour or so of play, the difficulty levels really ramp up as you push on further.
With so much variety on offer on both attacking and defensive fronts, there’s a wide range of strategies to use. You can quite easily set down a full screen of projectile firing plants and hope for the best. Similarly you could conceivably utilise the exploding foliage that can easily take out an entire group of surrounding zombies in combination with blocking vegetation and take out entire waves in one go.
You can quite easily play through the entire Adventure mode in completely different ways thanks to the mass of options available to you.
And yet there’s more. Puzzle and Survival modes change the usual formula to offer yet more addictive gameplay, and there are a variety of other mini-games available to enjoy. And though these are twists on the standard Adventure mode, they do provide a true test for those who have ploughed through the full scale Adventure.
PopCap have done it again. Plants vs. Zombies is another slice of addictive brilliance that simply can’t fail but keep you hooked to your PC. Such a straightforward twist on a genre shouldn’t be this addictive, but the sheer quality spliced in with such simplicity makes for another brilliant title that must be bought.