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PopCap Games  
Plants vs. Zombies
From: PopCap Games
For: Macintosh, Windows PC
Genre: Management, Puzzle, Strategy, Thriller
ESRB Rating: Everyone (6+)
Plants vs. Zombies
Leave it to PopCap to deliver yet another deceptively trifling game of the highly addictive kind, one that can easily lure the casual player and hopelessly ensnare serious gamers as well. Plants vs. Zombies is all that, a one mouse-button puzzler that takes no time to learn but maybe a lifetime to quit.
Posted May 05, 2009
In PopCap Games' Plants vs. Zombies, zombies want to eat your brains and they're relentlessly ambling up to your front door to do it. Lucky for you, you have a small (eventually sizable) selection of specialty vegetation at your disposable, seed packs of plants designed specifically for warding off zombies (or planting in your Zen garden, if that's your thing).

Luckier still, your yard is conveniently sectioned into a 5 x 9 grid pattern, allowing for up to 45 undead-killer flora placements - bear in mind that them thar brain-eaters make no distinction between your brains that the plants protecting your brains; they'll eat plants too (except garlic plants, as it happens).

Unfortunately, though you have many to choose from, you can only take a handful of plant types into battle as displayed in a 6-slot header menu, so you must carefully select your weaponized seedlings at the beginning of each round or each wave within that round.

Each plant requires sunshine points in order to grow, which you acquire as sundrops falling from the sky or coughed up by, you guess it, sunflowers. What's more, after any given plant is planted, there's a recharge delay before you can plant another like it (the more effective the plant, the longer the delay, wouldn't you know it?). Hence, before you even start you must contrive a strategy based on the sunpoint costs, recharge time and inventory limits.

You're almost always going to take the utterly defenseless sunflower plant into battle - and the more sunflowers you plant the faster you'll rack up the sunpoints, sacrificing yard space in the process. You're going to want to protect sunflowers as well as the door to your house, where you and your tasty brains reside. Oh yeah, that.

So you've got your basic attack plants, for starters, pea-shooting Peashooters and the double-pea shooting RePeaters, plus corn-kernel chucking Kernel-pults, cabbage tossers and even watermelon lobbers, eventually. Defensive plants are also available, Wall-nuts that provide temporary bulwarks, maybe a heftier Tall-nut if you've earned it, maybe a "Potato Mine" behind that.

Speaking of which, there are several one-timer, smartbomb-like plants to choose from, too. Cherry-Bombs and Squash which do exactly that; also row-burning Jalapenos and Little Shop of Horrors-like Chompers (which take forever with the digestion thing).

And there's a crop of augmentative plants like Torchwood, which sets peas passing over it on fire (booyah!), or the Gatling Pea upgrade on RePeaters for double the double-shooting pleasure.

As you might surmise, Plants vs. Zombies absolutely never stops being absolutely hilarious.

Now, for every armament in your arsenal and for every upgrade you eventually earn or buy (or grow in your Zen Garden mini-game), there's a zombie up for the challenge.

Oh sure, your Regular Garden-variety Zombie is pretty easy to take out, but then there's the Conehead and Buckethead Zombies with obvious impromptu helmets making them a little tougher to tackle (Football Zombie in fully gridiron regalia is all the more daunting because he actually runs, or ambles rapidly, anyway) while Pole-vaulting Zombies can breach your Wall-nuts (but not your Tall-nuts... see how that works?), and balloon-tethered Zombies can float over all of it... better plant a dart-spitting Cactus.

It gets worse, as with the Zamboni Zombie who slowly mows down anything in his path and ices the ground behind him, and the Michael Jackson/Thriller-esque Dancing Zombie who brings his whole darn brain-dance posse with him, and eventually gigantic Gargantuar Zombies start making regular appearances.

Of course, the longer you play the more seed slots become available - after you buy them from Crazy Dave's trunk-o’-the-car shop - to a maximum of 10 slots (and even that doesn't seem like enough near the end).

And Zombies, being the slightly crafty sort, will also try a few levels of attacking from the backyard, where you have a pool. Say hello to my little Tangle Kelp plant, you nasty Ducky-tube Zombie.

Then they'll try at night where you'll need a few nocturnal mushroomish plants; then they'll try from the roof where you'll need to lay down some terracotta pots before you can plant anything. And mind the Bungie Zombies sproinging in to steal a pot or two.

Truly great fun for all players of any skill level and almost any age (though explaining the concept of animated corpses to the little ones can be a bit of a head-scratcher, even though the one-handed mouse controls make it a perfect kid-on-lap game). It's a brain-bending giggle-fest, a quick fix puzzle quest or lazy evening epic game-session game.

Plants vs. Zombies is likely PopCap Games' best game yet. Even after you "finish" the 50-odd Adventure Mode levels (wow, a puzzle game with an ending, with a big bad Zomboss finale and everything), you'll want to tackle the many mini-games of horde marathons, Bejeweled variants, Wall-nut Bowling and so on. All funny, all fun.

Available for a scant 20 bucks at, obviously, as well as most those other game portals such as RealArcade, MSN Games, Steam, Yahoo! Games, etc.

    Plants vs. Zombies TIP: The cheap, seemingly innocuous Garlic plant is your best friend. Plant at least two of those at the front of a top row of sunflowers and most zombies will take one bite, gag, and move down a row. Load up that next row Peashooters and Torchwood. Get creative and you can funnel the lot of them into a gauntlet. Careful, doesn't work on vehicle zombies nor Gargantuars.

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Bang for your buck:
Excellent New Purchase 

Score:  5  (out of 5)