PopCap's Zombies Ate My Desktop

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Brad

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Edited By Brad  Online
Art style: cute. Challenge: not so much.
Art style: cute. Challenge: not so much.
PopCap's new wallet-friendly time-waster Plants Vs. Zombies is sort of a tower defense game, crossed with a puzzle game, with maybe some action elements thrown in there. I'm not quite sure what I'd call it, but after a couple of hours with it, I am pretty sure it's a lot of fun.

Zombies are assaulting your house...or at least, very slowly shambling across your yard...and it's up to you to plop down a wide variety of attack plants in five horizontal lanes to stave them off. There are quite a few different zombie types--one is a former football player who's extra hard to take down; another looks like Thriller-era Michael Jackson and spawns backup-dancing zombies to protect itself--and even more kinds of plants to use against them, allowing you to freeze zombies, blow them up, turn them against their undead brethren, and more. You have to actively gather sunshine (the game's currency) by clicking on it as it falls from the sky and is generated from certain plants, so the game actually takes on quite a hectic pace in later levels. Don't let the game's cutesy look fool you; it's pretty challenging.

Plants Vs. Zombies has 50 levels in it, many with different mitigating gameplay mechanics. In the night levels, you don't gain sunshine automatically, only from plants that produce it; as a tradeoff, you get to use nocturnal mushrooms that wilt in the sunlight but act as bombs and other special attacks at night.

There's a surprising amount of strategy in here.
There's a surprising amount of strategy in here.
It took me two hours to get through the first 20 levels, with each level getting more and more complex--and new zombie and plant types rolling out consistently--as I went. There must be three dozen kinds of plants to acquire, at least. It's a surprisingly strategic game from a company that specializes in easy-to-get casual games. You can also unlock a survival mode and some minigames by playing more of the main mode than I have. It seems like a lot of game for your 20 bucks, and I'm glad to see a native Mac version available (though I'm playing the PC game via Steam, where PVZ is currently a steal at only $10). Aside from Blizzard, not many game companies actively support the Mac, so propers to PopCap there.

The company may have amped up its design chops a little on Plants Vs. Zombies, but its reputation as a purveyor of desktop distractions is still evident. The game runs at a minuscule fixed resolution of 800x600, and if you're playing it in a window, it pauses itself the second the window loses focus. You know, if you happen to alt-tab out to some TPS reports when your boss walks by, or something.

It wasn't long ago when a lot of "real" gamers scoffed at PopCap's success. Cheapo fluff like Zuma and Bejeweled was made for soccer moms and grandparents, not hardcore headshot masters like you and me, right? Those days must be over, if the buzz around the Plants Vs. Zombies release is any indication. Yesterday my Twitter feed--which is mostly full of game developers and members of the games press--was rife with chatter over this game, certainly more so than any recent "hardcore" news or products. I think that's a pretty telling sign that PopCap and its brand of inexpensive, low-impact game are here to stay.

  

Any of you putting down your Dual Shocks and Wii Remotes long enough to play Plants Vs. Zombies?

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Brad

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#1  Edited By Brad  Online
Art style: cute. Challenge: not so much.
Art style: cute. Challenge: not so much.
PopCap's new wallet-friendly time-waster Plants Vs. Zombies is sort of a tower defense game, crossed with a puzzle game, with maybe some action elements thrown in there. I'm not quite sure what I'd call it, but after a couple of hours with it, I am pretty sure it's a lot of fun.

Zombies are assaulting your house...or at least, very slowly shambling across your yard...and it's up to you to plop down a wide variety of attack plants in five horizontal lanes to stave them off. There are quite a few different zombie types--one is a former football player who's extra hard to take down; another looks like Thriller-era Michael Jackson and spawns backup-dancing zombies to protect itself--and even more kinds of plants to use against them, allowing you to freeze zombies, blow them up, turn them against their undead brethren, and more. You have to actively gather sunshine (the game's currency) by clicking on it as it falls from the sky and is generated from certain plants, so the game actually takes on quite a hectic pace in later levels. Don't let the game's cutesy look fool you; it's pretty challenging.

Plants Vs. Zombies has 50 levels in it, many with different mitigating gameplay mechanics. In the night levels, you don't gain sunshine automatically, only from plants that produce it; as a tradeoff, you get to use nocturnal mushrooms that wilt in the sunlight but act as bombs and other special attacks at night.

There's a surprising amount of strategy in here.
There's a surprising amount of strategy in here.
It took me two hours to get through the first 20 levels, with each level getting more and more complex--and new zombie and plant types rolling out consistently--as I went. There must be three dozen kinds of plants to acquire, at least. It's a surprisingly strategic game from a company that specializes in easy-to-get casual games. You can also unlock a survival mode and some minigames by playing more of the main mode than I have. It seems like a lot of game for your 20 bucks, and I'm glad to see a native Mac version available (though I'm playing the PC game via Steam, where PVZ is currently a steal at only $10). Aside from Blizzard, not many game companies actively support the Mac, so propers to PopCap there.

The company may have amped up its design chops a little on Plants Vs. Zombies, but its reputation as a purveyor of desktop distractions is still evident. The game runs at a minuscule fixed resolution of 800x600, and if you're playing it in a window, it pauses itself the second the window loses focus. You know, if you happen to alt-tab out to some TPS reports when your boss walks by, or something.

It wasn't long ago when a lot of "real" gamers scoffed at PopCap's success. Cheapo fluff like Zuma and Bejeweled was made for soccer moms and grandparents, not hardcore headshot masters like you and me, right? Those days must be over, if the buzz around the Plants Vs. Zombies release is any indication. Yesterday my Twitter feed--which is mostly full of game developers and members of the games press--was rife with chatter over this game, certainly more so than any recent "hardcore" news or products. I think that's a pretty telling sign that PopCap and its brand of inexpensive, low-impact game are here to stay.

  

Any of you putting down your Dual Shocks and Wii Remotes long enough to play Plants Vs. Zombies?

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KEITH1437

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#2  Edited By KEITH1437

This game looks great! :D

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erinfizz

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#3  Edited By erinfizz

Downloaded a demo already, will be checking this out soon.

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papercut

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#4  Edited By papercut

Purtty

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deactivated-5ee2492b629bb

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I played through the 30-minute demo and really enjoyed it. I'll probably buy it soon. I always liked smaller, simpler games for the PC. They're fun and good for some time-killing.

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#6  Edited By LordAndrew

Oh hey, Mac version? Cool.

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unangbangkay

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#7  Edited By unangbangkay

I haven't actually gotten around to it, but it does sound like this game could be deadly to my plans of finishing the Killzone 2 campaign. Which is why I must avoid it like Swine Flu until I get that done.

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Hamst3r

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#8  Edited By Hamst3r

I've been playing it. It's awesome. :D

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Under_Influenz

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#9  Edited By Under_Influenz

i tired the demo out. It was really fun.

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MSG

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#10  Edited By MSG

I absolutely love this game.  And like Brad it has murdered my productivity.....not good at this time of year for a college student.

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maxszy

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#11  Edited By maxszy

"Soil your plants" Rofl. They did a good job with the marketing there.

Haven't played it yet but plan to! This looks great!

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RetroIce4

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#12  Edited By RetroIce4

Completely forgot about PopCap's games. Anybody remember Insaniquarium?

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cav86

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#13  Edited By cav86

Just got this last night and loving it so far

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SenatorSpacer

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#14  Edited By SenatorSpacer

I haven't decied if PopCap are the greatest Game developers on the planet...Or the worse.

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raikoh05

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#15  Edited By raikoh05

tower defense is so done, I never got into it. move on please.

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Metroid545

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#16  Edited By Metroid545

totally pickin this up this game. I played the demo and was instantly hooked.

Why did I hand you that walnut?
CAUSE I'M CRAAAAAAZY

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#17  Edited By eznark

I'm through the first two levels and while the challenge isn't there, this game is phenomenal.  So far there has been something new not only each level, but each section of each level.  I just got to the backyard and had to force myself to turn it off.  Addictive as hell and humorous to boot.  I am digging it.

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SunKing

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#18  Edited By SunKing

It's a pretty fun game but it's still just Tower Defense though, albeit in another form. I'm on the fence as to whether I'll get it or not; I might wait for a Steam sale or something.

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Sikboy1029

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#19  Edited By Sikboy1029

It's $10, not $20 :)

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Gregomasta

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#20  Edited By Gregomasta
  
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packfan104l4

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#21  Edited By packfan104l4

This game is totally worth it.  I wanted to play for 15 minutes to try it out,ended up playing for 2 hours.  Ooops

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MikeLemmer

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#22  Edited By MikeLemmer

Beat the whole adventure mode in about 7 hours already.


...Yeah, I like this game. Occasionally crashes if I play it too long, though. I also wish it had a level select; the final levels of each stage were a hoot, and I want to replay the Final Boss again.
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sloppyjoe

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#23  Edited By sloppyjoe

Got it... great game!!

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Vision

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#24  Edited By Vision

I played the demo and i am pretty sure i am gonna buy this.

It's a lot of fun and great if you don't have anything else to do. :)

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Crono

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#25  Edited By Crono

Guess I will check the demo out.  I was curious about this one for a short while now.

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Royale

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#26  Edited By Royale

I pre-ordered it trusting that Popcap would deliver and they did.  I'm about 20 levels into it and am loving it.  I even dreamed about it last night after playing for a couple hours before going to sleep.  Good times.  It's still $10 on steam right now and worth every penny.

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Seraphim2150

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#27  Edited By Seraphim2150

I had preordered it. going to end up playing it as my "escape from exams" game

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joseppie

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#28  Edited By joseppie

Great game indeed.

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The_A_Drain

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#29  Edited By The_A_Drain

Had it pre-ordered, planning on playing it the instant I hand in my stuff friday, forget dual-shock, this game looks awesome.

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nok

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#30  Edited By nok

Pretty fun demo, only ten bucks on steam right now, just picked it up

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delicious_lie

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#31  Edited By delicious_lie

i loved PvZ loads. the humour's one of the best bits. Check out the Help section!

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digital_sin

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#32  Edited By digital_sin

That game is a ton of fun. I highly recommended it. Already finished like 15-20 levels and it is still throwing new stuff at me. 

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Death_Burnout

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#33  Edited By Death_Burnout

Jalapeno's!

I dunno, i think it starts off too slow. plus i hate rebuilding my strategies over and over. The conveyor belt ones are awesome though, so is the music for them!

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MattyFTM

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#34  Edited By MattyFTM  Moderator

Does this game reference triffids at all? Because if it does, it's an instant purchase,

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Grognard66

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#35  Edited By Grognard66

I'm really enjoying the demo.  Is this supposed to come out for XBLA anytime soon?

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Curufinwe

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#36  Edited By Curufinwe

Game sounds good, but I'm so tired of Zombie-mania right now.  Even when they're after plants, not brains.

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thatguy

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#37  Edited By thatguy

If you buy it from the PopCap website it is $20, but if you get it through Steam it is only $10.

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callumbay

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#38  Edited By callumbay

This game is amazing. I bought it on Steam when it came out on Tuesday and have struggled to stop playing since :P

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deactivated-5ea641329300b

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Zombie bobsled team sold me.

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kainen

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#40  Edited By kainen

"I might wait for a Steam sale or something."

dude it already is on sale for 50% for 10 bucks on steam.  What are you waiting for?

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Wunder

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#41  Edited By Wunder

AWESOME. <3 Sun-shrooms.

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Media_Master

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#42  Edited By Media_Master

I'll pass on this one

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SunKing

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#43  Edited By SunKing

To kainen:

It's on sale at £6.99 in the UK, which is a fair price, I'd say. It's a good game, but it's not one I'm urgently clamouring for, so I'll wait 'till its on offer at an even further discount. I'm not saying it's not worth the money, but if I bought it now they'd be no point, since I probably wouldn't have time to play it in-between Fable 2, GTA 4, Mirror's Edge, Space Invaders Extreme and, maybe, even FO3: Broken Steel (if Bestheda ever sort it out for the PC).

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Sharpshooter

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#44  Edited By Sharpshooter

The trial version is pretty fun, though it didn't last long enough for me to face the zombie bobsled team.

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ahoodedfigure

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#45  Edited By ahoodedfigure

Bobsled team?  Hehehe

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Sunjammer

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#46  Edited By Sunjammer

Way more fun than it has any right to be. Love the presentation, it's got TONS of content, and the thing is just plain charming. Thumbs up!

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ectoplasma

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#47  Edited By ectoplasma

So, I think the game is a blast but it's too easy. But maybe there will be more pressure later in the game. One of the reasons it's too easy now are the bombplants cherry/doomshroom which are simply too strong. I start out building two rows of generators and never had a problem yet. I'm happy with the game for 10 bucks, 20 would be just a little steep I think, but I don't know. I bet the game is even more awesome when you play it stoned... hehe, multiplayer would be great too.

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RHCPfan24

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#48  Edited By RHCPfan24

Looks like a great game.

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#49  Edited By XuShin

interesting concept...

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Undeadpool

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#50  Edited By Undeadpool

I pretty much come here to know what's good, I just spent $10 on this...you'd better be right!