If you haven’t heard of Plants vs. Zombies by now, you must have been living on the moon. Popcap’s take on the tower defence genre has already found massive success on both the PC & iPhone/iPad. It was only a matter of time before the undead found their way onto your Xbox 360.
The idea itself is simple. Protect your house (and your brains) from the hordes of zombies that slowly stumble their way across your lawn. However, what makes the game different is HOW you protect yourself. Instead of arming yourself to the teeth with anything that resembles a weapon, you fill your garden with a variety of zombie killing plants. Now I know what you’re thinking, how can plants save me from the zombie apocalypse? Well these aren’t just any ordinary plants; they all have special abilities that will help you make it through the day.
You start off with a handful of seeds and as you clear each stage another type of seed becomes available in your arsenal. From the first few stages you unlock Pea-shooters (fires peas at the zombies), Cherry Bombs (blows groups of zombies up) and Wall-Nuts (creates a wall to slow down the zombies), but as you progress you will unlock more powerful seeds, and upgrades. This keeps things interesting, as you are always being rewarded for progressing. The most important seed of all is the Sunflower. In order to plant seeds you need to collect enough sunshine. Although sunshine falls from the sky periodically, that isn’t nearly enough to man your plant army. So by planting the Sunflower seeds, you will be ensured of a steady stream of sunshine that will enable you to crush the hordes. The more Sunflowers you plant the more sunshine you can collect (by either moving your cursor over it, or by pressing RT or LT), so it is always wise to plant a few at the start of each stage.
But don’t think the zombies will just lie there and take it. Considering they are the undead, they are quite crafty. Some of them protect their heads with cones or buckets, while in later levels they drive vehicles and ride pogo-sticks!! Again, this keeps everything varied and means that you have to plan ahead to make sure you have the right seeds equipped (As you can only take a small selection of seeds in to each stage). If a zombie gets close to your plant, they will start munching on it until it disappears which will leave your defences weakened until you can replace it. And if one of them reaches the door it’s game over.
There are five areas to clear. Front yard, Back yard, Night-time, Fog and Rooftop. All require slightly different strategies, for example in the night and fog levels your sunflowers won’t work, but sun-shrooms will. The game always makes sure you have the right tools for the job for each area. But if you pick the wrong type of plant it can seriously reduce your chances of beating the stage.
The game also throws in the odd mini game or two, such as Zombie Bowling and Whack-A-Zombie. These, along with other mini games, can also be played from the main menu once you have progressed far enough.
Looks wise, it doesn’t differ from the earlier versions of the game. It’s colourful and the plants look positively excited to be there. The music is catchy (including the end credits song) and will easily get stuck in your head.
If there was anything bad to be said about the game it would be that it suffers slightly from being on a console. Planting the seeds and collecting sunshine is a little more convoluted using a controller. But this doesn’t detract from what is overall a fantastic and addictive game. It oozes charm and feels great to play. It seldom gets boring and offers a great deal of challenge towards the end.
Unlike the iPad/iPhone version, the game offers everything the PC version does, and then some. So along with all the mini games, the Zen garden and the survival modes you also get local co-op and Vs modes, which give it added value. Even at the 1200msp price tag, you will find it hard to find a game on XBLA that keeps on giving as much as Plants Vs Zombies.