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Plants vs. Zombies (Xbox 360) artwork

Plants vs. Zombies (Xbox 360) review

"With neighbor Crazy Dave (who is obviously crazy because he has a pot for a hat) at your side to give you advice and yell gibberish at you, you’re off to guard your precious home by planting organic armies to do your bidding. You build up your reserves by gathering sunlight, which falls from the sky or pops out of immensely helpful sunflowers. Once you have enough sunlight, you choose from a variety of plants to fortify your home and build your forest."

Plants vs. Zombies is a game changer. No longer should we be focusing our military funding into nukes and weapons of mass destruction; we need to be focusing on more organic ways of protecting our soil from enemies. Who knew that the deadly danger that lurked within the most innocent and friendly sunflower? Who knew that walnuts should be reinforcing the shell of our military tanks to protect them from virtually anything?

It’s those geniuses at Popcap. They’re in the know. And when the inevitable zombie apocalypse comes, the rebirth of the civilization and society as we know it will happen at Popcap Headquarters. Until that happens, I’m going to practice my shrubbery skills in one of the most addictive and hilarious tower defense games on the market.

PvZ shows you how a simple tower defense formula can be done remarkably right with use of wit, loads of charm, and great mechanics.

In order to protect your house from the ravenous zombie hoard, you turn to greenery. In retrospect, it’s brilliantly obvious – zombies love brains more than anything, and plants don’t have brains. And with the right amount of sunshine, you can amass yourself an army of powerful produce ready to protect you from the undead. Of course, the lack of meat on the plants doesn’t really deter the meat-eaters too much – they’ll happily munch on the vegetation to get to your delicious, meaty, moist braaaaaaaaaains.

With neighbor Crazy Dave (who is obviously crazy because he has a pot for a hat) at your side to give you advice and yell gibberish at you, you’re off to guard your precious home by planting organic armies to do your bidding. You build up your reserves by gathering sunlight, which falls from the sky or pops out of immensely helpful sunflowers. Once you have enough sunlight, you choose from a variety of plants to fortify your home and build your forest.

Each plant has different attributes that can help your army. The sunflowers help build your army and are indispensable. The basic peashooters shoot peas (naturally) and can down a basic zombie in about 14 shots. Walnuts are barriers that slow zombies down as they try to munch their way through, giving you precious time to gather more sunlight and work on your army. These are only a few of the 49 plant species available to you, most of which get unlocked as you progress in the story mode.

Story mode is the bulk of the game. It’s a series of missions that have you protecting your front yard, back yard, and rooftop from the undead. Each of the three grounds has different layouts and environmental issues to deal with. The back yard has a pool and introduces you to the aquatic plant life you can plant to protect yourself from the deadly snorkel zombie and dolphin-riding zombie. The roof is angled, which causes you to rethink your offensive strategy completely as the straight-shooting peashooters are almost useless. Toss in nighttime levels where nocturnal mushrooms make up your army and a few levels full of fog that obstructs your vision and you have a varied and interesting story mode that never gets boring.

It’s challenging, sure, and it lasts a decent length as different and more difficult zombies get tossed at you at a rapid rate. Soon you’ll be fighting zombies that dig under your defenses to come at your plants from behind and fighting off balloon zombies that completely bypass your defenses as they float above you. There’s tons of variety in what the game offers in zombie enemies and it has just as many different plants to help fight the hoard with. Later levels require serious strategy and thought in how you go about protecting your meaty brain – you can’t just aimlessly plant your defenses and expect a win.

The adventure mode is the meaty goodness of the game, but in order to justify the price, there are a bunch of other game modes available. There’s a survival mode where you just have to see how long you can survive as well as a remarkably addictive puzzle mode. Puzzle mode has one of the most fun game types, “I, Zombie”. You actually play as the zombies, which you place at the right side of the map with the goal of overturning the greenery and getting those delicious brains. Toss in about twenty different mini-game maps that range from a Bejeweled-theme puzzle to a map that consists only of miniature zombies that move wicked fast and the $20 price tag is more than justified.

The game doesn’t need to be pretty. It’s got a great, distinct and funny art style to it that offers loads of charm. The first time you meet Crazy Dave, you can’t NOT laugh at how ridiculous he looks. The zombies and plants are all visually varied and offer some good laughs amongst the chaos; the shambling disco zombie being one of my favorite visual touches. Even though the animations of the plants and zombies are somewhat limited, they all ooze personality due to the style. In the later levels, the screen is full of chaos and the frame rate never drops. You have peas flying, zombies swarming, sunlight falling from the sky, and it’s quite admirable how the game handles considering the crazy amount of action at any given time.

For a simple tower defense game, the music is damn good! There are some great catchy themes for each set of levels – the pool theme is especially catchy and gets you pumped for the zombie action. There’s an admirable crunch munch munch as the zombies devour your plants and rest assured, they do the classic “braaaains” moan and groan. Crazy Dave himself is a hoot to listen to; Dave is fluent in the language of Crazy Gibberish and the first time you hear him speak, you can’t help yourself but laugh. Many of the zombies have different musical cues that accompany them (think Left 4 Dead special infected) and you’ll quickly learn how terrifying a dolphin can sound when a zombie is riding it. There’s an almost retro-like quality to the music and the sound effects in the sense that they are simple, but not THAT simple.

The game offers a delicious hunk of replay value. Adventure mode is a pretty decent length and first-time players will have a fair share of challenge as the game tosses new plants and zombies your way after completing levels in a natural pace. You’re constantly learning and adapting your strategy as you go through the first time, trying to decide whether or not you should test run that new triple peashooter out or go defensive with that new walnut instead. The chunks of mini-games are varied and quite fun to go through and some pull no punches – these mini-games are not easy! Survival mode offers a great test of your abilities and going through puzzle mode gets your moist, creamy brain thinking about the game in an entirely new way. For $20, you can’t deny the value.

So, if you’ll politely excuse me, I need to go price some of the real estate by Popcap HQ. That way, come 2012, I’ll be ready…


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Community review by Mega5010 (May 29, 2011)

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