Review: Plants vs. Zombies
Ahh, Plants vs. Zombies, the addictive tower defense game that is on practically every platform out there finally makes it’s way to the Xbox 360. Having been around since early 2009, Plants vs. Zombies has gained quite the following, and has even made addicts out of some players. It’s light-hearted, cutesy style paired with great gameplay is what won the hearts of many, but does it keep those hearts in this new addition?
For those who haven’t played the game, it’s rather simple: you plant a various assortment of flowers and the like on three different playing fields in order to keep the unfortunate house owner alive throughout the zombie invasion.
The three fighting areas are the front yard, backyard with a pool and roof, and they go through cycles of night and day. What makes each area a bit of a challenge is their varying sizes, with the front yard and backyard being pretty roomy, while the roof is constricting. The zombies you fight can range anywhere from regular civilians, football players, to ogre-like creatures. Combine that with the support you have of pea-shooting plants, sunflowers, nuts, zombie-eating flowers and many more, and you’ve got yourself a party!
Now while this is the main setup and overall goal of the game, with this new version of the game comes great gameplay and a few new perks. At the start of the game you start of with just two items: sunflowers and single-pea shooters, and you gradually gain more items as you play. The mechanics of the game run pretty smooth, and the zombies are a challenge, but never too hard to handle. If you’ve played PvZ’s before, you’ll pick it up rather quickly, if not it might take you a bit, but it’s easy none-the-less.
You have your item bar at top left corner of the screen where your sun reserve is, a select number of items are, as well as your shovel that you get as you progress through the game. To switch from item to item, all that needs to be done is to use the left and right bumpers of the controller. Just sift through and use, no other buttons required. If you need to use your shovel, simply press and hold down B on a flower to have it removed. The same can pretty much be said about collecting sun. If some sun is falling from the sky, or your sunflower produced it, simply roll your cursor over it, and it will automatically go into your reserve. The cursor’s motion is fluid and glides across the screen nicely, while the overall mechanics keeps the game at a good pace, making gameplay feel just a tad bit smoother on the 360 than PC.
In the Adventure Mode, you plant your earthly defenses in the ground that you are given, protecting the house from waves of zombies. Each of the three grids that you are given are fought in both day and night, which also changes the plants that you may use (you go from flowers and such in the day to mushrooms at night). Not long after you start playing, you get introduced to Crazy Dave who will sell you items and make rather interesting remarks to you as you keep playing. At first, the prices of the items he sells can be intimidating, but money is gathered quick in this game. As you progress through the levels of zombie killage, you will sometimes find yourself even playing some mini-games like bowling. Overall, Adventure Mode is just as fun as it’s predecessors. The difficulty is at a good pace, with only a try or two needed to clear any tough levels. The variety of plants at your disposal is great, but at the same time you might find yourself sticking to your ol’ faithful combination of items. You will also unlock more features and modes in the game, such as Co-Op and Vs. Mode. A Zen Garden can also be unlocked, allowing players to grow their own flowers from seedlings.
Once you unlock Co-Op and Vs., they become available for whenever you want to play. In Co-Op, two people will have to defend the same house from the zombie invasion. Each players gets four item slots to fill, but they cannot use the same plants. Once on the field, it’s pretty much like Adventure Mode, but with two people. As sun falls, either players can get it to fill their reserve. When a pair of suns fall, both players must roll over the pair at the same time in order for it to fill their reserves. This can be a bit of a hassle at first, but as the game progresses you catch on quickly. A really neat feature that was added is the ability to butter the zombies. This is really fun, as all you have to do is hold down X, and you can butter up a zombie for as log as you like. Overall, Co-Op is a great way to play the game with your friends, it keeps everything simple and to the point, which makes communication so much easier.
Versus Mode is a really fun add-on that will keep you playing for a while. While one person is plants, the other person is zombies, each with their own goal they have to accomplish. The zombie’s goal still remains to breach the house’s defenses and eat brains, but the plant’s goal is a little different. For the plants, instead of just killing zombies, they must also destroy 3 targets from the zombie’s side. The zombies can build tombs to help help protect from the flowers, and just like sun, brains will fall from the sky to help aid in the attack. What’s a really cool advantage the zombies have is the ability to call hordes of zombies. This can prove a bit of a challenge, but with the plants having a good chunk of the screen, the zombies still tend to have a disadvantage. One thing I wish is that instead of getting a random set of plants and zombies, that players would be able to pick on their own, like Co-Op.
Aside from that there is also a good chunk of min-games that can be played, like Vasebreaker and I, Zombie. As you beat each level from either of those games, more difficult levels become unlocked. There’s eve a slot machine mini-game, and a game where the zombies have plant heads.
One major gripe I had with the game was with the font. I don’t have a nice t.v., but even still, the font was small and barely readable. I found myself having to squint 6 inches away from my t.v. a couple times, and that wasn’t exactly fun. As much as I blame my t.v. for this, I think the game should take more of the blame, as this shouldn’t be a problem. At least give me the option to fix it.
Other than that, Plants vs. Zombies was a delight. Everything it offered never presented a dull moment. The music and graphics are very fitting of the game, and everything is fun to play. The ease of it all almost makes me feel like I would not have liked the other versions as much if I played this one first. It offers a great variety and for the price that it’s at, everyone should buy the game at some point and have it in their library.