Plants vs. Zombies

Plants vs. Zombies
Plants vs. Zombies Cover
Platforms iOS, Windows, OSX, XBLA, DS
Genre Portable zombie plowing
Score 9  Clock score of 9
Buy from iTunes

Few games on the iOS platform get me excited. There's just such a surplus of bad that even when you hear about Super Popular Game X, you wonder if the masses are just falling for more of the same. When Plants vs. Zombies was announced early this year as a port of the PC/Mac release, I didn't think twice about picking it up. The $3 price tag didn't even make me think twice.

I had watched my brother in law play the full version on his Mac last year, and was intrigued by its porch defense gameplay. I had never even played a tower defense game before Plants vs. Zombies. A genre virgin so to speak. It was easy to see without even playing it why the game was so popular. The zombies would walk slowly from right to left and it's your job to fend them off with some bizarre garden variety plants.

This review will just be on the iOS version (played on a second generation iPod Touch). I have no experience with any other version (though I'm secretly planning to replay it on the Nintendo DS).

Also, if you happen to like zombies, we've got a whole bunch of stuff written about the undead.

This is a full-fledged game with 50 levels for just $3. Beyond the number of challenges, there's almost 50 different plants to fight back over 25 types of zombies. Every single level introduces something new to try out, whether it's a new enemy, new defense mechanism, or a brand new twist to the stage itself. You will never play two stages the same way, PopCap always finds some other way to throw a wrench into things.

50 levels lasts a long time, you will get your money's worth. I probably spent at least five hours playing the game, basically fighting for control over the iPod for a week as she played through the game too. My wife barely ever plays games, and when she does, they're usually the bad kind of simulation I mentioned in the introduction. But she loved Plants vs. Zombies too.

The game doesn't waste a pixel on the screen, I was constantly surprised by how much stuff they were able to cram onto the screen while not only keeping the framerate at a mostly manageable level, but also always interpreting your finger pokes correctly. There can be up to six rows of plants/zombies with nine columns, you can do the math, but that's quite a bit of potential stuff on the screen. A very small screen that is.

The genius behind the varieties of plants and zombies is the game's highlight. Not only is the pixel art animation excellent, but no two kinds of friends or enemies act the same. There are dancing zombies and triple pea shooting plants, along with exploding cherry bombs and scuba diving zombies.

There was some significant slowdown at times on our iPod Touch, not sure if other platforms suffer from this, but at times Plants vs. Zombies is just a bit too ambitious. Furthermore, if you're looking for a challenging game, this isn't it. While there are lots of levels, I never lost once, and only came close to wiping out once or twice. I wouldn't have minded another round of levels to really test my zombie killing skills.

Overall: 9

Great game in a very small package, worth the entrance fee ten times over. If you're looking for a game to suck up time on a road trip, Plants vs. Zombies is it.

Plants vs Zombies pea Shooters