Okay, I’m gonna do a shorter game review for today, because there are too many shenanigans going on. The shenanigans aren’t important for the purposes of this review. Well, except for the fact that ants are apparently hell bent on living in my keyboard for some reason. There may be frequent pauses as I, ahem, evict my new tenants, because they have not paid rent. So I figured this was as good of a time as any to hit upon the best addictive tower defense game of last year, Plants Vs. Zombies. I had originally downloaded the demo of PvZ for Xbox 360, but something about the game just didn’t grab me. It was too slow, too limited in choices, too… something for my tastes. Then Steam came out with a sweet deal to purchase the PvZ game of the year edition for under $4, so I figured hey, why not?
I have not stopped playing since. God help me.
There’s no plot. No engaging characters. Just shenanigans. That’s all it ever needed.
The premise is simple. It is the zombie apocalypse, hell on Earth and your neighbors are (probably) zombie food by now. In your corner you have a variety of useful plants, mushrooms and gourds, each with a slightly concerned look on their faces, and a crazy neighbor who isn’t really crazy so much as he is a hobo. Meanwhile, an army of the forces of darkness are forming in the street, getting ready to assault your front door. The undead. You must not let them get into the house or else they will eat your brain.
At least I’m assuming it’s you in the house. Each level starts with a notice that this is “your” house, but you never actually get to see an in-game representation of yourself during any of the game’s many levels. If a zombie slips past your defenses, you’re shown a brief scene of the zombie strolling into your home, followed by the sound of someone eating something, possibly an apple. “ZOMBIES ATE YOUR BRAIN” the game then tells us, though this, as always, is news to me.
The only way to survive is to PLANT. And you accomplish this by collecting sunlight, which falls from the sky during daytime levels and is generated by sunflowers the rest of the time. You’ll start out with pea shooters, which shoot some kind of… pea-like object at their foes, the smugly grinning sunflowers, and a whole mess of zombies. As you top each level you unlock more and more plants to use, including walnuts, which zombies take significantly longer to chew through to advance, cherry bombs, which are cherries that explode, and catapult plants that lob cabbage, watermelons and butter at their foes. You’ll get plants that can freeze zombies, mushrooms that can rip metallic objects out of their grasp, plants that can shine light through fog, exploding potatoes, lily pads, pumpkin shells to reinforce your defenseless plants, and plants that eat the grave stones that pop up at night in your back yard. There are 49 plants in all, though some are just upgraded versions of other plants that can be bought from your hobo neighbor if you have enough cash.
It’s a simple premise. Don’t let the zombies get to your plants or they will eat them. Plant a lot of sunflowers and pea shooters to start your defense, and then upgrade and add new, more exciting plants before the hordes get there. Each level will spawn at least one huge crop of zombies to fight off, and woe be unto the planter who has neglected a lane or forgotten to upgrade.
You can only take a certain number of plants with you into each level, so you’ll have to examine the zombie horde beforehand and determine which plants are going to be the most helpful. And you’ll have to think. Zombies will can have traffic cones and buckets on their heads for defense, can have inner tubes and snorkels if invading your backyard pool, can be driving ZOMBONI machines, riding in zombie bobsleds, be massive gargantuan powerhouses that plow through the lines, float over your defenses with the help of balloons, and much more. Some of the zombies are a bit on the BS side of the scale, though those are still funny. Disco Zombie is one of those. To quote Sam and Max, “Disco… WILL NEVER DIE.”
I initially picked up this game because I figured hey, why not? SEVEN HOURS LATER, I was defending my roof from the forces of the undead, swearing at bungee jumping zombies and ladder carrying zombies, lobbing cabbage over the slant in the roof to hit my foes when they appear at the right of the roof. I beat it shortly after I picked it up, but that wasn’t the end, oh no. The game of the year edition comes complete with a massive amount of mini games, including the confusing role reversal one where zombies have the heads of plants for some reason, and one that is like bejeweled, if zombie invasions happened in bejeweled. There are also survival levels. Which are nerve wracking.
Plus, the game of the year edition comes with the option to make a zen garden! I dunno what the point of it is, but I can’t get enough of it. Every so often the game will tell you “oh shit go water your plants” and you’re like “oh damn, this is important” and drop what you’re doing immediately to get it taken care of.
Anyway, Plants vs. Zombies had a hard time getting my attention, but now that it has it I can’t seem to stop playing. Since the game has been out for a while, it might make an inexpensive way to pass some time, and man it’s totally worth whatever price you can find it for. Well, any price under $10, at least.
Here come the zombies. Ready your garden tools.