Did you know that Plants vs. Zombies was in development for over three years? Thatâ€™s fairly standard nowadays for big triple-A blockbusters, but surely â€˜casualâ€™ games can be cranked out in a matter of months?
Well, maybe, but I think Plants vs. Zombies proves that it can take a long time for a game â€” any game â€” to fully realise its potential, and that the end result is generally worth it. And now itâ€™s on a device that seems custom made to house zombie-destroying flora.
Yes, Plants vs. Zombies is on the iPad, and I would have to say that itâ€™s the definitive version, simply because the touch screen is perfect for the game. And while the iPhone edition is good as well, the larger screen really lets the cute/diseased graphics shine. At NZ $13.99, itâ€™s one of the more expensive titles available, but seriously, itâ€™s cheaper than the PC version and is packed with more content than most of you will ever be able to play through.
Need a quick refresher on what exactly Plants vs. Zombies is? Itâ€™s basically PopCapâ€™s take on the tower defense genre â€” google those two words if youâ€™re not sure what that means. Essentially, hordes of enemies stream in from one side of the screen and attempt to reach your stronghold. The onslaught is slow and gentle at first, but eventually ramps up into a barely contained tsunami. In this case, you need to stop zombies from reaching your house, which you do through the cunning use ofâ€¦ plants.
Sounds like it shouldnâ€™t work, right? But it does, oddly enough. A ridiculous collection of plants are at your disposal, from simple pea shooters to exploding bomb-type plants. In order to get plants, you need to harvest sunlight. This drops from the sky in small amounts, but youâ€™ll be wanting to plant a bunch of sunflowers in order to get enough currency to build up a defensive wall of plants. Tension comes from your need to split your spending between defenceless sunflowers and plants that will actually stop the zombies. Building up a large number of sunflowers early on will ensure your long-term survival, but those pesky undead will constantly force your hand.
Throughout the main adventure, you will unlock a staggeringly large number of different plant types. There are 48 all up, but you can only bring a very limited number into battle with you in each level. Youâ€™ll have to choose wisely â€” I often spend a stupidly long time before a level starts, trying to decide which tools will be best to combat the two dozen types of undead.
I have to commend the difficulty levels of this game. It may start extremely easily, with only a portion of your lawn exposed to attack, but just as youâ€™re getting comfortable, the game will open up, more zombies will flood in, and youâ€™ll be racing frantically to save your house. Itâ€™s obvious this game has had a lot of playtesting, and is all the better for it.
To further mix things up, some levels might take place at night (removing one of your sunlight sources), or your plant selection may be limited to a random assortment on a conveyor belt. It all keeps things fresh â€” youâ€™re quite unlikely to feel repetition set in.
The graphics, animations, sounds, and all the usual shenanigans us game reviewers go on about are all uniformly excellent. The style wonâ€™t be to everyoneâ€™s taste, but whatâ€™s here is polished and cohesive. Just go and take a look at the screenshots and see if you like it.
I donâ€™t want to repeat myself, but this version of Plants vs. Zombies is my favourite â€” itâ€™s simply the best way to play the game. A mouse does the trick just fine, but you canâ€™t beat the immersion factor of directly touching on parts of the screen to direct the action. Itâ€™s just cool.
So if you have an iPad, youâ€™ll be wanting this one. Itâ€™s one of the best games currently available on the device, hands down. Now go forth and stop the undead rampage!