For the last couple of weeks, I have been glued to my six year old PC (which I hardly use anymore) because of a little game called Plants Vs Zombies. Developed by PopCap Games, the company behind the ridiculously popular Bejewelled, this is the kind of game that works on almost every PC regardless of hardware limitations (unless you have a 1998 Pentium II, in which case you shouldn’t be on the internet) and gaming habits. This is the kind of game that perfectly snuggles itself between casual and hardcore gaming. So does it manage to create a niche of its own or does it self destruct under its own ambitions? Let’s find out.
Based on a very simple concept of protecting your house from zombies using a variety of plants, this game quickly becomes very addictive and compulsive for anyone who even has a passing interest in video games. This is an offshoot of the tower defense genre (very popular among the net café gamers of today due to a game called DoTA), simplifying it as much as possible without compromising the quality and depth of the game. The first thing you notice about this game is the simple yet bright and colorful graphics and the upbeat, catchy music. The game has a distinct sense of humor which is apparent the moment it loads up. The first few missions are cleverly implemented tutorials which give you a basic idea of what the game is all about and how the controls work. And then it leaves it to the players to figure it out for themselves. A bunch of zombies, entering from 5 lanes, want to take over your house and you have to use all the resources possible to stop them from doing so. So you have to grow plants using the game’s version of money, sunlight, which either falls from the sky or is created by a plant you grow cleverly called, the sunflower. The first dozen or so levels are simple enough with a limited amount of plants against a limited amount of zombies. Then the complexity of the game ramps up quite a bit, with various plants and much tougher zombies trying to attack you. Also the scenarios change quite a bit, with night time, where there is no sunlight falling from the sky and graves being formed on the ground, but you can use a variety of mushrooms to combat the zombies. Then you have your backyard, which has a sort of water body in the middle of the yard, where you have to use pads to grow plants adding a new level of depth and sunlight management. You also have Crazy Dave, your insane neighbor, who will give you tips and sell you stuff for the money you collect from zombies. The main mode is the adventure mode, which lasts for a good 6-8 hours, after which you unlock the mini-games, puzzle and survival mode which play exactly as they sound. The mini-games are especially fun with modes like bowling, whack-a-zombie etc. The difficulty curve has been handled very well, where each stage is tougher than the last one, but never frustratingly so. Plus the sheer number and variety of plants will keep you busy for a long time.
So overall, a fantastic game, which you should buy or at least check out. This is one of those rare games which everyone can enjoy and appreciate. The only minor complaints I have are the graphics, which could have been far more updated and the lack of variety in the soundtrack. But this should be no reason for you to avoid this game. In the gameplay department, this game is aces. So what are you waiting for. THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING!