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June 2, 2009 | by  | in Games | [ssba]

Plants vs. Zombies—or, O.C.Dead Rising

This is little pop culture nugget capitalises on the current popularity of the walking dead and is chock full of rapid click action. If you know Bejewelled, then you may have heard of PopCap, they’re the devils behind its creation and Plants vs. Zombies. They’re coming to specialise in smart game design that reduces the distance between interaction and reward. Bejewelled will have you matching up shiny jewels while under the pressure of a decreasing timer in an obsessive way that the written word cannot do justice to. Plants vs. Zombies is busting with that same O.C.D. fun—just exchange lining up jewels with lining up aggressive, yet adorable plants. While the mechanics have changed, there is still the same gripping playability at its core, and this is not the case of a gamer joking of addiction as is often the case. Approach this title with awe and caution, lest it sucks you in for the remainder of the semester. Having been released from its brightly coloured, cutely animated claws for two hours’ sleep before class several days running, I can give testament to that fact. You have been warned…

The concept, as the title suggests, revolves around plants and zombies battling it out. The zombies have come to your neighbourhood and want to make a nice tasty meal out of your brain. Naturally you’d like for this to be avoided. The good news is that you have a big 5×9 grid lawn in which to plant all the cute, exotic and deadly plants to protect you against the hordes of undead. If you play your cards right, zombies will be picked to pieces by your botanical arsenal. Such loyal plant ‘towers’ include the peashooter, starfruit plant, doom-shroom, gatling peashooter, exploding jalapeños, cherry bombs, cabbagepults and many others. There are 49 plants in total. The best defence will be one that manages to combine plants to form plant combos. PvZ allows for a great deal of experimentation and you’ll gradually unlock all 49 as you progress through the game. This gives you the chance to change tactics, adapting to the new kinds of zombies you face and preventing the gameplay from becoming stale.

To plant your plants and hold onto your grey matter, you need an ample supply of collected sun. This falls gentle down the screen on daytime missions and you can collect it with a simple click of the button. Also there are sunflower plants you can sow that will produce sun. The beauty of the whole system is that it’s simple. It is well thought through and tested game design. The combat zone changes every once in a while, as zombies try to find different ways into your house. You’ll move from the front lawn to the pool area and face down the boss in an epic rooftop battle. The adventure game continues to change and evolve as you progress, and once finished, unlocks a crate-load of different mini-games and puzzles. A particularly fun level allows you to help the zombies practise eating your plants and invading your house, essentially letting you play as the zombies for a while. And if the unthinkable should happen and you get bored of killing zombies (as if), you can visit your peaceful Zen Garden to water plants you’ve collected from various missions or nurture your ‘tree of wisdom’, which spouts words of wisdom and secret commands to alter the game. With so much content, it’ll be a long while before you get bored of this game.

By way of tutor and salesperson, you have your helpful and insane neighbour Crazy Dave. He introduces you to the basics of the game and will sell you any handy items you need from the back of his car. Crazy Dave wears a metal pot upon his head for reasons the game never goes into, possibly because as he’ll tell you, “I’m CRAAAZY!!!” If the content described so far sounds too off the wall or pun-heavy, don’t worry, it’s all part of the game’s loveable and good-natured demeanour. The colour pallet is full of bright, rich colours, and the music is bubbly with just a little menace thrown into the mix. Even the zombies are about as cute as decaying flesh will allow. There’s a basic zombie model, then there are the clever zombies that have decided to use road cones or buckets as helmets. These you have to watch out for, they’re a little tougher. Then there are quarterback zombies, pogostick zombies, bobsleighing zombies, miner zombies, dolphin-riding zombies, to name just a few. And while you know that they’re in pursuit of your brains, you can’t help but be charmed by them. These aren’t the vicious zombies of Left for Dead or I am Legend. These are their backwards idiot cousins, the ones who were at a children’s birthday party when they were turned. And if the zombie apocalypse is going to happen, I’d want it to be like this; brightly coloured, off-centre and endless fun.

If you have any doubts about the game, go download the free demo from the website, it’s itty-bitty—26mgs, go try it. And if you’re still not convinced, go check out this toddler’s endorsement. The full game is NZ$30, so neither the recession nor student poverty are valid excuses for not getting this game.

Developer: PopCap
Genre: Tower Defence
Platform: PC



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  1. Michael Gray says:

    Argh you beat to me to the review! Plants Vs. Zombies is truly an epic game. :D

    By the way if you download the free Steam client you can purchase it for $10(USD) which is about $16(NZD).

  2. Impact says:

    It will be a true struggle Dead Rising Based on a classic Darkwalker movie, now you can become a zombie with the realistic Zombie… Impact

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