I have always considered myself a fan of the Zombie genre. Not that I would want to be one of course. And when I say Zombie, I mean the slow walking-arm-stretching variety that can easily be ran away from, not one of these new fangled sprinting, leaping, Left for Dead beasties. But when the fateful day comes and the clarion call is sounded, what would we really do? Panic? Go on the rampage with an assortment of weapons? Lock ourselves in a shopping centre? No, we will exercise and flex our green-fingers and plant!
Luckily, until that day arrives, we can practise our gardening skills and don our best Percy Thrower impressions with PopCap’s new tower-defence ramble – Plants Vs. Zombies. The story? Well, Zombies are advancing on your house via the lawn, intent on having it away with your most valuable possession, no not your PS3, your brains. What to do? Enter the plants. You have a creative variety of different plants to choose from when building a line of defence against the onslaught of brain chompers. Pea-shooters fire, well, peas. Frozen pea-shooters fire, err, frozen peas. Multiple pea-shooters fire, yup, you guessed it. However, there is a price; you can only add the plants to your garden when you have collected enough suns. These can be collected by planting sunflowers that periodically drop a sun, or, when playing during the daylight hours, the suns that drop from the sky at various times. During the night levels, you use mushrooms, some of which act as the sunflowers. With careful placement of your plants you can successfully ward off the, rather cute looking, zombie hoard and ultimately keep your brains where you prefer to have them.
You start the game by choosing which plants to fight with, then off you go, plant them and try to stop the Zombies from reaching your back door. The Zombies themselves nevertheless try various tactics to get past your line of defence. They start with the standard, slow-moving chap, occasionally calling for ‘Brains’ and making his way along the garden, which is, unlike other games of this kind, divided into five straight rows. After you successfully deal with this lot, then along comes one with a traffic cone on his head, cone-heads are followed by ones with metal buckets, the handle strapped under their chins. Some wield a screen door in front of them and others are dressed as American Footballers. Needless to say, they increase in strength and speed and their numbers swell, especially at certain points in the game when the progress bar, located at the bottom of the screen reaches a flag. Then a huge wave starts to make their way across your beautifully cultivated lawn. In proportion your arsenal of plants increase in firepower, some for blocking, some for eating zombies and some used as the equivalent of a small nuclear device.
There are twenty six different kinds of Zombie and forty eight varieties of plants to attack them with. This, together with fifty levels in Adventure mode will keep you busy for a while, but, the fun doesn’t stop there. After advancing a short way into Adventure mode, you begin to unlock the mini-games, such as walnut bowling, whack-a-zombie and other harmless destructive pastimes, unless of course you’re a Zombie. Complete the Adventure mode and you can open up Survival mode, where you have to see how long you last against the Zombies using limited resources or try your hand at being a zombie and fight against the plants. You are ‘advised’ (and I use the term lightly), by Crazy Dave, a neighbour who occasionally drops in to announce a new level or open up his car boot, where you can upgrade or buy new plants using the coins that drop from a dead Zombie.
PVZ, admittedly, isn’t the most graphically intensive game to hit our high definition displays, but then that’s part of its charm. The soundtrack is as comic as the animation, especially with the addition of a Michael Jackson Zombie, complete with red-leather jacket and sporting a rather bizarre, but fetching, forelock. Cast your minds back to a time when games were simply represented by a monochromatic blob, looking for all the world like a stuffed olive, yet we played them with a fury, they occupied our every waking moment until we finally beat them into submission. Such is the way with PVZ, a hugely addictive game that brings back the good old days of simple, yet tasteful, graphics with bucket loads of gameplay. It’s available for PC, Mac, Xbox and as a mobile app, check for latest prices.
As soon as I saw the comic-like graphics and silly storyline I fell in love. While it won’t stretch the high-end machine it can at least run on those older units that are currently gathering gaming dust with the current vogue of intensive gunfire games. Popcap has launched a diamond of a game, you won’t get bored and it will take a good number of hours before you complete everything, ideal for those times when you’re supposed to be working.
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