Get over to the potting shed and arm yourself with the latest in weaponised shrubbery! Your home is under attack and we will show you how to deal with those hungry zombies.
Plants Vs Zombies is essentially a tower defence game, now before you click back a page it should be pointed out that it is a tower defence game with some differences. Firstly, instead of zombies following a single path to their goal, they now follow six paths horizontally across the screen. They will come from the right side and slowly make their way towards your home on the left, if one zombie reaches your home it is dinner time with your brains on the menu. There are over 25 types of zombie ranging from your zombie to traffic cone wearing zombie, American football to balloon and dolphin riding zombies. Each zombie have their own strengths and weaknesses, fortunately you have a wide variety of plants at your disposal to keep them at bay.
You initially start with a small but useful selection of plants which expands to a total of 48 by the end of the game, they come in three general categories; attack, defense and passive. Attack weapons include the Pea Shooter which will fire peas at the zombies eventually knocking their heads off to incapacitate them. Defensive plants include Wall-nuts which act as a barrier and Squash which will squash any zombies in its area. Finally you have passive plants such as a Sunflower which will produce cash to buy new plants, and plants such as Gatling Peas which upgrade Pea Shooters to fire four peas at a time. As with the different types of zombies, the plants have their own strengths and weaknesses, the variations are part of the fun experimenting to find the best combinations against the zombies.
Your first port of call will be the adventure as the others are locked until you make progress in the game. This mode is split in to five chapters each containing ten levels and sees you defending locations around your property such as your gardens and roof. Each level lasts around 10 minutes and mid chapter you get to play a mini game to mix things up a little. The difficulty is about right and the pace allows you to work out basic strategies which can be repeated throughout the game. You will still need to keep on your toes when new zombie types appear on most levels but a new plant will be unlocked which usually deals with them. The adventure mode will take roughly eight to ten hours to complete which I consider to be a good length, you can replay it afterwards with an increased difficulty.
As you progress through the adventure mode you will unlock some extra modes which can be played at any time. The Puzzle mode provides you with 18 levels containing a variety of game types. These include a vase breaking game in which you must break a vase to find its contents, it could be a plant or a zombie so you must carefully break the vases and try to plan ahead. The next mode is a Survival mode which plays very much like the adventure, there are a total of ten different game types and you must survive for five waves of zombies instead of one. The next mode is the Mini games which have a few different games including zombie bowling, a fruit machine and even a Bejewelled style game called Beghouled. These extra modes are not just added into the game as an afterthought, there’s enough to be classed as a separate game and they will provide many hours of gameplay to complete let alone earn Gold trophies on them all.
While online play is sadly not supported there are two local multiplayer modes. The Versus mode allows you to play against a friend, one playing as the zombies and the other with the plants. The second mode is a co-op game which allows two players to work together to attack the zombies. Leaderboards are supported but instead of text based stats they are presented in a fairly original manner. Each player on your friends list that has played the game will have a house in which their progress in the game is visually represented with items such as a pile of dead zombies, bushes and garden equipment. You have to constantly change between screens to compare, so while it is a good idea in theory, it falls flat on its face to see who is actually the best amongst friends. A Zen garden is unlocked when you complete the adventure mode, this area allows you to grow and tend to plants throughout the day which will earn you money. This mode was originally on the iPhone and was something you could keep open or quickly load during the day to tend to the plants, so it is maybe not something best suited to the Xbox.
The graphics and presentation are done very well and look great on the big screen. The zombies and plants are cartoon like which keeps the game child friendly. Your assistant Crazy Dave provides helpful hints between levels and also provides a car boot to buy upgrades and new plants. The music fits with the theme of the game with an eerie background tune which builds up when the level progresses. Sound effects are fairly good including pops from the Pea Shooter and plenty of zombie sound effects which provide some humour.
The price of 1200 :MSPoints: may raise a few eyebrows as the game can be purchased on other platforms for less. I spent around 14 hours playing the game while reviewing it and I have to say it is very good value for money. I will continue playing it afterwards which I do not always do for XBLA games. It is easy to plant yourself in front of the Xbox and play this game for hours and I will bet my braaaaiiiiins that is exactly what you will do!
A lengthy adventure mode backed up with an extensive collection of puzzle, survival and mini games.
Crisp and colourful HD cartoon style graphics keep the game family friendly.
A eerie background theme provide great suspense as the level progresses with plenty of sound effects to provide humour
You can find more information as well as the demo and full versions of the game on the Marketplace.
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