theuselessgod's Plants vs. Zombies (PC) review

Plants and Zombies work well together. Who would have thought.

The Short


- Addicting twist on the tower defense genre

- Easy to learn but very difficult to master

- Dozens of plants to choose from

- Charming aesthetic, from the zombies to the plants to the kickin' soundtrack

- A metric butt-ton of game modes including survival, minigames, puzzles, zen garden, and more

- Seriously, this game has more content than three $60 retail games

- Crazy Dave is awesome. The ending song is awesome.

- Horrendously addicting


- Those damned bungee zombies.

- Unlocking stuff costs lots of money, which lead to some awful microtransactions on the iOS version

- Co-op / Vs modes only available on the PSN and XBLA version

- "Create a Zombie" only available on the PC Game of the Year version


If' there's anything zombies hate, it's photosynthesis

The LongLet's just get this out of the way up front: Plants vs Zombies is pretty much my wife's most favorite video game ever. She's beaten it all the way through at least six times, maybe more since she has it on her iPod touch now. We own this game on every system known to man (except PSN, because we have it on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, and XBLA) and for some reason neither of us have gotten bored of it yet. Yes, I'm talking about a tower defense game that's grid-based, where plants battle zombies. Really.

Though it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. PopCap is pretty much rolling in fat cash (and is still an independent wild) at this point. These are the guys who invented Bejeweled, ok? They also made the Zuma, Bookworm, and tons of other simple, addicting games. Which is why when I first heard of Plants vs Zombies I shrugged it off. Bejeweled? You mean that game my mom plays? Please.

Zombies also hate chlorophyll.

It wasn't until we booted it up during a boring evening on vacation that we realized the truth: Plants vs Zombies is freaking amazing. I remember Destructoid gave it a 10/10 and I thought they'd lost their freaking minds. Well guess what, it was totally justified. Plants vs Zombies is an addicting, content rich tower defense game that is both extremely accessible and immensely deep. And here you thought it was just a simple, casual game.

Plants vs Zombies doesn't do anything particularly new (aside from being freaking incredible) to the tower defense genre. You are given a 9x7 grid (your lawn, though eventually you go to the backyard pool and even on the roof) which you can plant anything on. All plants (except one "super" plant) only take one spot, so you can essentially have a maximum of 63 plants. Zombies come in from the right to individual lanes, never swapping unless (again) you use a particular plant to force them to bounce around like that. You plant your attacking plants on the left and try to kill the zombies before they reach your brains on the left (safely hidden inside the house). It's extremely simple; even my mother could figure it out.

Don't tell my mother I bad-mouthed her in my review. I love you mom!

To plant stuff you need "suns," which you gather by either planting sunflowers (with their adorable grins) or picking them up during daytime levels (which means they were literally dropped from the sun). Having to click on suns keeps it interactive, even during the boring beginning stages of the levels, where you are trying to gain a steady income as fast as possible. After that you have basic pea shooters which will slowly fire on advancing zombies, wall-nuts (which also have adorable grins, just look at them!) that block the zombie's paths, and more. The game keeps introducing a new plant nearly every level, which in turn adds a new strategy to attempt. The pacing is exactly perfect, and by the end you'll be juggling nine different plants, fighting off tons of zombies, and it'll all be completely intuitive. IT may look overwhelming at first, but Plants vs Zombies hits the sweet spot: it's never too hard, and it's never boring. And it rewards you just enough to make you keep on playing for hours and hours on end.

You go from "single, shuffling idiot" to "28 Days Later" pretty quickly

PopCap's other games had the benefit of being straight puzzlers with no determinable goal other than to waste time, meaning they only got old when you were finished with them. Plants vs Zombies, on the other hand, has a definite "end" to it (after maybe 4-5 hours of zombie-pruning mayhem) which would have slowed other developers. They might have just called it good (4-5 hours for a $10-$15 is still a good deal), or maybe have thrown in some junk side content or tacked on competitive multiplayer just for kicks. But this is freaking PopCap, so they go nuts. (or dare I say...Wall-nuts?)

This game has more bonus content than any game ever made in the existence of video games. This is not even an exaggeration. Right after you beat the main game, you can go back and play through it again, but this time with Crazy Dave (your lunatic neighbor) picking your first three plants for you (and often picking garbage, which adds to the challenge). You can collect pots of plants in the single player mode now that you've beaten the game, which are put in your zen garden and are raised to either sell or collect. You have more seed slots to unlock for levels, tons more plants and plant upgrades, and more areas for your zen garden. You have somewhere around 25-30 minigames, all of which are excellent and unique (Zombie Bejeweled is one of my favorites). You have wave based survival modes on all the different landscapes. You have a puzzle mode where you play as the zombies trying to get through the plants. You have a vase-smashing puzzle game that can be quite the challenge (both the puzzles and urn levels have a bunch of pre-set levels as well as infinite modes, and the survival mode can be infinite too).

All this in a game that started life at a $15 price tag. Normal $60 games don't give this much crap out!

Hecks yes, Beghouled is rad.

I'll say it again: this game is extremely addicting. The gameplay is tight, has tons of variety, and the tons of modes are just icing on the cake. All this content would be useless if the underlying game sucked, and it most certainly doesn't. You thought a 9x7 grid would mean the game was gimped and stupid? Well you are gimped and stupid, valued reader! Because this game is better than any other tower defense game ever made. Yes, I just brought that to the table. Prove me wrong, dear reader (in the comments, please :P)!

There are a few nitpicks I have. PopCap keeps releasing this dang thing on any platform that can even remotely support it, often adding stuff each time. For example, the XBLA Version, while suffering from not having mouse controls (which it still works quite well on a controller, by the way) does add full co-op support for every part of the game, which is really cool because I could finally play alongside my wife. It also adds a vs mode that's more like a competitive puzzle game, where one person plays as the plants and the other the zombies. It's pretty fun too, but neither of these modes are on any other versions besides the PSN and XBLA version.

The same goes for "Create a Zombie" mode, which is admittedly just a gimmick bonus, but that's only in the Game of the Year version on the PC. Sad times.

The flavor text for the plants and zombies is hilarious too (screenshot from iOS version)

The iOS and Android versions also have an annoyance: in-game microtransactions. Unlike the PC/XBLA/PSN versions, the minigames on iOS and Android require in-game currency to buy. Which you can earn pretty quickly if you know how to manipulate the Zen Garden, but the amount of cash required is still astronomical. It gives you the offer to buy in game coins for $1 increments, which I suppose is fair since the game is $10 on XBLA/PSN/PC and the iOS version is $3 (except I was an early adapter and paid $6), but the whole microtransaction thing still bugs me. I really hate it, in case you were wondering, but in this instance it doesn't do enough to damage the experience. It does mean most of the content is locked by a money-gate, though, so keep that in mind.

Lastly, the DS version looks way the crap worse than the other versions. Even the iOS/Android versions look way better (they technically run at a higher resolution than the XBLA/PSN versions, though they are scrunched down a little to fit on the screen). I suppose I should finally finally note that I consider the iPad/Android Tablet version of this game to be, by far, the best way to play the game. Picking up suns with touch is intuitive and excellent, the touch controls flawless in every way, which makes this easily a killer app for both iPhones and iPads (and Android phones and Android Tablets).

There is seriously so much crap to unlock (screenshot from iOS version)

I'm pretty sure you can guess what my closing remarks are going to be. Let me put it this way: this game was selling for $2 on sale on Steam the other day. TWO DOLLARS. It's on portable devices for freaking $3. You can buy it anywhere else for $10. You can even play a rather extensive demo for free in your web browser right now on PopCap's website. This game is insanely cheap and straight up amazing. I'm pretty sure you can afford it, so what are you waiting for? Go out there and buy it! And if you are thinking to yourself, "hmm, I wonder if this game is worth $10 or if I should wait for another Steam sale?" then you need to get your life in order and freaking go buy it this very second. I give you my personal Nathan guarantee that this game is worth every penny. I have yet to see someone I've recommended this game to come back disappointed. Plus, your kids can play it! And it's a way better game to have them play than that crappy Angry Birds game, let me tell you that much.

Make Plants vs Zombies 2 PopCap. You can have all my money. But while I'm waiting, I'm going to go beat Plants vs Zombies on my iPhone again.

Five out of five starflowers.

More like a billion out of five stars.

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Other reviews for Plants vs. Zombies (PC)

    There's a zombie on your lawn 0

    I've never really liked traditional tower defense games. I've always felt like they lack focus and variety, two components I like in my games. That being said, PopCap Games is not your traditional tower defense developer, and it shows. Plants vs. Zombies is a surprisingly fresh take on the genre, and is a fun, lighthearted game that should be enjoyed by both "casual" and "hardcore" gamers alike.  What Plants vs. Zombies shares with tower defense games is its basic structure. That is, your primar...

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