Plants vs. Zombies (XBLA) Review
Zombies have been everywhere in the video game world. Capcom has two very successful franchises starring everyone’s favorite undead creations. Only Popcap, though, knows how to make killing zombies a cute experience. Plants vs. Zombies hit the PC in May of 2009 and people have been so hooked on the game it’s been the cause of jailbreaks. The games come out on multiple different platforms and it was only a matter of time before it came to home consoles in some form, but does the gameplay prove to be stale after so many releases or will you be just as hooked as you were the first time you played the game?
Same Addictive Gameplay
The basic premise of Plants vs. Zombies is pretty simple. The zombie horde is intent on eating your brains and you don’t want that to happen. The only thing standing in the way of the zombies and a feast on your brains? A long line of plant defenders. You plant plants in your front yard, back yard, pool and even on your roof. You’ll have nearly 50 different types of plants to repel the zombie horde with when all is said and done ranging from pea shooters, which is the first plant you’ll use all the way up to deadly corn cob cannons, which is one of the last. You have five rows to defend and all it takes is one zombie getting in your house before you wind up dead. The zombies themselves have a range of different abilities and defenses and it will take clever planning and preparation to survive the onslaught.
New Ways to Play
Every release of Plants vs. Zombies brings something new with it. The biggest addition to the game is the multiple two player modes. There are three ways for two people to play together. The first is a jump-in, jump-out style of co-op in the main campaign where a second player can plant the different plants, collect sun or even temporarily hold zombies by dropping butter on their heads. This is a great mode for younger players who can be responsible for sun collecting and using the butter on the zombies. All the sun goes into a single pool to use for your defenses. The second is a more fleshed out co-op mode where each person gets control of four different plants and you have to work together to create the perfect line of defense. You also have to really communicate about who gets the sun because it’s not placed into a single pool of sun, but both of you have your own. Sometimes a double sun will fall from the sky and both players have to touch it at the same time where it will split and each of you will get part of it.
The last mode, and the most fun is the new Vs. mode. One person is the plants, the other is the zombies. In this mode the player who has control of the plants is trying to destroy targets on the zombie side of the yard. Destroy three of the five targets and you win. The zombie player only needs to get one zombie into the house to win. The person in control of the plants plays a fairly regular game. The zombie player uses gravestones to generate brains that you can use to purchase new zombies for your horde. There are three types of play in this mode as well. The first is a quick match where it uses the same five plant and zombie types in every game. You can also play a mode where you each go back and forth choosing a plant and zombie and customize the battle based on your opponent’s choices. The third is a random battle where it will randomly choose your forces. It’s a great new mode that has a lot of depth and replayability to keep you coming back.
There are new zombie types that haven’t appeared in the game before and new mini-games only available on the Xbox. My favorite being Heavy Weapon where you have a pea shooter on a wagon and you’re playing a twin stick style shooter to defend your house from the zombies. You can buy plants that will temporarily upgrade your pea shooter to help in your valiant defense.
The Xbox 360 doesn’t have a mouse to use and so a new control scheme had to be devised to make the game work. Luckily it works very well and takes very little time to get used to. The analog stick moves your cursor around the screen. Simply getting close to sun, coins and other pick ups will have them sucked to you like a vacuum. You use the right and left bumpers to move between the different plants to select them and a ghost image of the plant you have selected appears on the screen under your cursor. The A button places plants where you are currently positioned. The B button is used as your shovel to dig up plants that are in the way. The X button is your alternate weapons like the mallet or the butter when playing in co-op.
This is by far my favorite release of Plants vs. Zombies. Vs mode has been played by nearly everyone in my house over and over again. I’ve finished the campaign once and am now going back through it again because I’m missing a few of the achievements. The new ways to play completely change up the gameplay while still doing a great job of keeping it fresh. The framerate never dips even when there are dozens of plants all shooting at the same time. It stays solid the entire way through. Everything looks gorgeous blown up on my 42” HD TV and I’ll be playing this game for weeks to come, biding my time until I can take the game with me on the go. Whether you’re a fan of Plants vs. Zombies or not you’ll find this release of the game entertaining and fun for a long time to come.
Final Score: 5/5 Excellent
Review copy of the game purchased on XBLA.
Played through the entire campaign, a number of different mini-games, VS and Co-op Modes.
Total Play Time: 7 Hours