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Ever wondered what it's like trying to hold back an army of zombies that are trying to cross your lawn so they can eat you? Well, wonder no more. 'Plants vs. Zombies' is a tower defence game in which you use various plants on your lawn to defend your home from countless zombie attacks. Sure, it might have a silly title, but PopCap Games somehow translated this 'silly' concept into an incredibly addictive game that will have you hooked for hours.
How to play
There is no back story as such to 'Plants vs. Zombies'. As soon as you press 'Adventure', you are thrown straight into a simple tutorial, where you are defending your home from a single line of zombies by using the most basic plants, Peashooters (which oddly enough, look like a semi-rip offs of the Pokemon, Bellsprout). More plants become available to you as you complete more levels, and the larger the selection of plants, the greater the defence system you can arrange.
The plants available to you are listed along the left hand side of the screen, and placing the plants on the lawn is very simple. The lawn is essentially a grid, and so you select the plant you wish to use and then press on the grid space where you want to place it. Once this is done, it takes a few seconds for the plant you selected to regenerate itself on the left hand list, and so you cannot reselect the same plant to put down until it has finished regenerating. Additionally, you will need to collect sunshine that falls down from the sky in order to power up the plants listed. However, you will find that Sunflowers become very important in your campaign as they generate additional sunlight, powering up your plants faster.
As you progress through the levels and are given more plants to defend your lawn with, you'll find that the zombies upgrade themselves too to give you a real run for your money. It then becomes a real game of strategy in order to use the most effective plants against the toughest zombies.
Throw in additional difficulties like defending the lawn at night time (no sunshine) and littering the lawn with gravestones (making it impossible to place a plant in that position) and you're really going to have to get that strategic thinking on...
'Plants vs. Zombies' is a success in my eyes for so many reasons. Firstly, the visual side of it is really well done. The characters are all well animated, from the slow moving, limping standard Zombies to the funky, Michael Jackson-esque Dancing Zombies. The screen is littered with the bright colours of your plants, and is a pleasure to look at.
Secondly, the simplicity of this game really contributes to its overall success. It's ridiculously easy to pick up and play, whether or not you have had any previous experience of tower defence games. In no time at all you'll be an expert at whether it's better to use a Cherry Bomb or a Jalapeno Pepper to defeat your adversaries.
However, more importantly than the aforementioned is the game's humour. I mean, where else would you find a game that boasts a Zombie Bobsled Team as its enemy?! This game's success is rooted in the fact that it doesn't take itself seriously at all. For example, pressing 'Help' on the game's home menu brings up a letter from the Zombies advising you to 'just sit there and don't do anything' when the zombies start attacking. This is a totally silly, ridiculous game, and I love it.
It may be of interest/concern to some of you to know that PEGI has given this game a 12 rating, although I feel this is rather harsh for the game. There is only very mild 'violence' (i.e. when you manage to 'kill' the zombie, the 'death' sequences are very much of a slapstick nature - funny, and non-gruesome), and mild horror (if you can call it that) in the form of the Zombies. However, it might be worth playing the game first before allowing young children to play it if this is of concern to you.
If there's one game you absolutely must buy off the iTunes App Market, it's 'Plants vs. Zombies'. Trust me when I say you won't be sorry for having parted with a mere £1.99 for this ridiculously addictive game (and just in time for Hallowe'en too!).
You can also get Plants vs. Zombies on the following platforms:
Google Chrome: Free trial (Chrome Web Store)
PC/Mac: £14.95 (PopCap.com)
Xbox Live Arcade: 1200 Arcade points
Nintendo DS: £13.99 (Amazon)
Its always the way that the most addictive games on a mobile device are the simple ones - take snake for example, who'd have thought that guiding a line round the screen picking up objects could prove to be so popular?!
Now Plants vs Zombie's isn't as simple as snake but its certainly not complicated.
The whole point of the game is that you take the side of the plants and your sole aim is to stop the zombie's eating your brains out!
The game is set in a couple of locations around your home such as your back garden and your roof where, on one side, is a way of entry to your house and at the end are various zombie's who will do their best to get into your house.
In order to stop these zombie's from entering your house you need to use various plants that are at your disposal in order to fend them off. These come in various shapes and sizes and have varying effects. For example, you can get a gattling gun pea shooter which shoots pea's at a quick pace in order to get rid of the zombie's earlier or alternatively you can use a rock which acts as a barrier which the zombie's need to get past before getting to your house.
There are about 40 levels or so in the main game but there are also mini-games which can be purchased using money obtained by killing the zombie's. There are also various unlockables that be bought that would make your battle easier.
Actually playing the game is very simple indeed. Before you start each level you can choose a number of plants that you feel are best to survive the level. Now the actual battle area is broken down into blocks and each of your plants takes up one block so you just pick you plant by pressing it and place it into a block. However, it isn't that easy because in order to plant stuff you need to have sunshine which can only be produced by certain plants so you need to wait for enough sunshine to be produced before you can plant some plants.
In terms of variety, the game is lacking ever so slightly so. In reality there are only a few different areas where you have to defeat the zombie's but because you play them under daylight and night time then you have to use a different set of plants which makes it feel like 2 different levels.
In terms of zombie's, these can be quite animated an amusing. You get the usual slow moving ones which are the simple ones but you also get novelty ones like ones that move like Michael Jackson or ones dressed up as American Football players. Each ones of these varieties provides a new and different challenge.
Visually, the game looks ok. It's certainly not designed to be the kind of game which makes you look at it in amazement but the plants and zombie's are well drawn and the game looks nice.
The one problem with this game though is that it can get quite repetitive because once you find a method that works then you can apply this method to most levels and find yourself a winning formula. Having said this though, it doesn't make it any less satisfying to beat each level.
The game itself costs £1.79 and, to be honest, is totally worth it. The game is extremely addictive and even completing it wont stop you playing and completing the whole thing another half a dozen times. I would definately recommend that anyone who has an iPhone and hasn't played this should download it asap!
I'm a bit of a latecomer to the Plants Vs Zombies phenomenon, apparently its been one of the most successful and most popular iPhone games ever but I only discovered it after a recommendation a few weeks ago. Since that recommendation I'm afraid I've become well and truly addicted.
PVZ is a game by PopCap, the people responsible for several facebook crazes including bejewelled blitz. They seem to work on the premise that simple, fun, accessible games will be enjoyed by more people than complex strategic ones requiring a high level of skill.
The basic premise of the game is that your house is being attacked by a hoard of slow moving zombies, as they approach via your garden, pond or roof your only weapons are an array of genetically modified plants, each with a superpower perfectly suited to fending off zombies. From pea shooters to corn cob catapults to potato mines, you can plant them strategically in your garden.
As you progress through the levels the zombies get more advanced and more creative so you'll need to keep upping your game. Luckily your 'eccentric' neighbour will occasionally provide new plants to add to your arsenal. The situations will also get harder, adding fog, water and darkness to the mix. To complete the 'adventure' mode of the game you will have to progress through all the levels and then face the big bad super zombie! After you've finished this, you can go back into all the levels to complete the special 'achievements'.
As this version of the game is an iPhone app (also available on iPod touch and iPad) the controls are all via te touch screen. Its really clear and intuitive and as long as your nails aren't too long its very easy to play and not at all fiddly. The only thing to watch out for might be repetitive strain injury if you get too addicted! The graphics are clear and bold, nice bright colours and attractive design without being too busy or too overdone.
PVZ comes highly recommended from me, its a great way to pass some time waiting for a train or on the bus, just be careful you know where your charger is as this does seem to drain my iPod battery pretty quickly.
The game is available from the app store for a bargain price of £1.79 and is currently at number 42 in the App chart. Happy zombie fighting!
Year of Release: February 2010
Developed By: PopCap Games, Inc.
Version reviewed: 1.3
Requirements: iOS 3.0 and above, compatible with iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch
==About Plants vs Zombies==
Plants vs Zombies started life as a PC game, designed for both the Windows and Mac operating systems. Categorised as a "tower defence" game, it's a very light-hearted strategy game in which you must deploy an increasing range of different plants to see of an increasing range of zombies that are trying to invade your home. The game was inspired by a number of other successful video games. Warcraft III, for example provided the inspiration for the different plant species, which replicate the different tower defence modes and, according to the developer, other genres had some influence too. A scene in the movie Swiss Family Robinson provided the inspiration for the potato mines, replicating a scene in the film where the family defends itself against pirates.
The iPhone release of Plants vs Zombies was one of the most successful iPhone app launches to date. 300,000 copies were sold in the first nine days and it continues to frequently top the games charts to this day.
==What do you have to do?==
Zombies are invading your home. With a little help from your (slightly incoherent) neighbour Crazy Dave you must strategically repel the invaders with a series of different plants. The plants can be arranged in distinct rows along your back garden, swimming pool or roof and you must carefully choose which plant is best placed to take out each type of zombie. Zombies gradually appear from the right-hand side of the screen and as the game progresses they appear in greater volumes and include zombies that are harder and harder to kill.
In order to get the plants zombie killing, you must first earn sunshine points that will allow you to buy individual plants. Sunshine points appear on the screen sporadically, but you can accelerate your collection by planting sunflowers, which give off sunshine points far more frequently. The more powerful the plants that you want to deploy, the more expensive they are in sunshine points, and once you've bought and planted one, there is a delay before that particular plant becomes available again. The more expensive the plant, the more time it takes for it to appear in your menu again.
A bar at the top of the screen shows your progress in terms of how many of the zombies you have killed. During each level, huge waves of zombies will occasionally be deployed. You always get a few seconds' notice of this and there is always one final wave before the end of the level. As the zombies advance, the objective is to try and take them out before they reach your plants as once they get close enough, they can start eating the plants. In a worse case scenario, they will potentially eat all the plants in a particular row and make it to the house. Your final defence is a lawnmower, which will release itself and kill every zombie in its path, but then the house is unprotected and you must plant quickly to build up the defence again. If you fail, the zombies will eat your brains and the level is over.
As you unlock each level, you also unlock a new plant, with a new ability. You are only permitted to have a certain number of plants available to you in each level, so part of the strategy is about choosing the right plants before you get started. You have a 'preview' of the zombies that will appear but there is also one new zombie per level, and until you have completed the level once, you won't know what it is that can kill the zombie. There are certain tried and tested plants, some of which are pretty useful against any kind of zombie, and some of which are essential to keep those sunshine points coming.
There are around forty levels in total, most of which operate on the same basis but there are also bonus levels. In the bonus levels, the principle stays largely the same but you don't have to buy plants. They are presented to you on a conveyor belt that runs up the screen to the left. This limits the choice of plants available to you and you must think carefully about the speed and order in which you deploy them. There are also three or four different terrains. Early levels just feature your back garden, but then this is expanded to include a pool in you garden. Some of the levels are then set at night (harder to get sunshine points) and some in the fog before things finally move to the roof. At the end of this stage there is one big boss to finish off. Once complete, the game is effectively unlocked and you can go back and play any of the other levels to earn sunshine points and coins. These help you buy special prizes from Crazy Dave's store. Prizes include the ability to choose more plants or enhanced versions of existing plants.
==Gameplay on the iPhone==
The entire game is operated using the iPhone's touch screen. That makes the game very easy to play pretty much anywhere. It's perfect, for example, for car journeys or train journeys where you might be sat in a fairly confined space because you just sit with the iPhone in front of you tapping the screen as required. The game is played with the handset in landscape mode, with the zombies approaching from the right and your house on the left.
Playing the game is very easy. It's simply a process of tapping the screen multiple times. Plants are selected with a single tap and planted with another. Tapping the little balls of sunlight that drift over the screen collects sunshine points and it's the same for any coins that appear. The only moderately complex task is using the spade at the top of the screen to re-plant your weaponry. You have to tap the spade once to indicate that you want to use it, then tap the plant you want to remove and then re-plant something new - a process of four taps in total. If you're running out of time, it's quite easy to get this wrong and either dig up the wrong plant or plant something in the wrong place.
Realistically, this is one of the easier games on the iPhone. The speed with which the zombies assault you builds up quite gradually and once you've figured out a strategy it's fairly easy to repel them. As the levels progress, they do get harder and some will take a couple of attempts but it wouldn't be unusual to be able to complete all forty levels in the first attempt. This is really a game targeted at players that want something relatively absorbing but still easy to pick up and put down again and it creates a fairly subdued gaming experience compared to other far faster games.
The game probably doesn't make as much use of the iPhone as it could. It would be useful, for example, to be able to cancel a level or restart a level simply by shaking the handset or possibly to delete all selected plants and start again. Your progress is maintained as you go along but there is no capability to share achievements and scores via gaming networks. The game isn't compatible with Apple's Game Center, for example, nor is there any capability to link up with Facebook or Twitter. This is a bit of a missed opportunity because the game features a host of 'achievements' that are earned by completing certain tasks within the game. You can earn the 'Penny Pincher' achievement by picking up 30 coins in a row on a single level without missing any, for example, or you earn 'Zoombologist' by discovering the Yeti zombie. These achievements add greater longevity to the game and encourage replay but would be even more popular if you could be ranked against other players. There's no multiplayer mode here, either, which is fairly logical (it's difficult to see how that could work) but again reduces the social appeal.
Updates are relatively infrequent and limited in scope. The last update added 12 new achievements but it would be nice to see more updates with additional levels to extend the basic scope of the game. A previous version of the game had a fairly recurrent bug that caused the game to crash but this was addressed in release 1.3 and the game is now very stable. At 43 MB it's not going to zap too much of your memory either. You can also download a walkthrough app but to be honest, I'm astounded that anyone would really need that - it's just not that tricky.
The game is pretty glorious from a visual aspect. The plants and zombies are equally hilarious and exciting. Plants boast a range of capabilities from throwing watermelon bombs, to exploding in a huge crater or dragging zombies underwater. The zombies are probably the most amusing feature, as they become increasingly bizarre. There's a Dancing Zombie, for example, that's kitted out in a big 70s Afro wig and flares and when he starts dancing, he raises hordes of other dancing zombies around his feet. There's also a Jack-in-the-Box zombie who plays Pop Goes the Weasel before eventually, unexpectedly exploding. An enormous part of the game's appeal is the variety of plants and zombies because it's really good fun unlocking them through each level.
It's a very colourful, quirky game to. The graphics aren't impressive compared to other games and genres, but it's all very bold, simple and eye-catching Within the relative constraints of the iPhone screen, the experience rather comes to life and it's very addictive. It's particularly good listened through headphones, because you become more immersed in the music and sound effects. The music is really good, a bizarre combination of eerie and quirky pieces, some of which really get stuck in your head. The sound effects are quite important. You'll hear the zombies before you see them and this can alert you to some particular action you might want to take. There's one zombie that rides a dolphin, for example, and this helps him shoot through the water. As soon as you hear the dolphin noise, you have to prepare yourself to take him out with the appropriate plant weapon.
The settings for the sound are a little random. It's possible to have the game playing and listen to your iPod music, for example, but I've yet to fathom out how to do this. The game seems to randomly decide when to do this and it's a little bit irritating to say the least.
Although the game carries a 9+ warning, I really don't think there is anything here that would be inappropriate for younger players. The explanation from iTunes is that this is due to infrequent fantasy violence and horror themes but it's never gory and the violence (if you can call it that) is very humorous. If you can call pelting a zombie with cabbages violence then I guess you might want to apply some caution.
==The Final Verdict==
This is almost certainly the best game that I've played on the iPhone to date. It's addictive, fun, simple and absorbing and it's also highly adaptive. It's not the sort of game, for example, that requires you to sit for hours on end. You can pick it up and play it in short bursts and it doesn't require enormous levels of concentration either.
The design is glorious. It looks superb and the sound effects and music complement this even further. I'd probably rather it was a little harder and/or that there were more levels but this offers scope for a future release. I would describe this as a game with a fairly universal appeal and for the amazing price of £1.79 it's hard to find fault. It's easy to see why this has shifted so many copies.