Plants vs. Zombies Review [Xbox 360]

I’m pretty sure most of us have played a tower defence game or two. In fact, over the past couple of years there have been a major increase in them, some of them end up as Browser-based games while others sneak onto Xbox Live Arcade — but none of these “clones” have proven more successful than Plants vs. Zombies, developed by PopCap, originally on the PC/Mac and iPhone. An Xbox 360 version had been cried out for ever since the game became a smash-hit title, a title that we’ve all heard of — and PopCap has given us it — but how does the game match up?

In Plants vs. Zombies, you play as a home owner. Your main objective is to repel an army of zombies from your home using your many varieties of plants — each of which have their own unique abilities. Plants vs. Zombies is without a doubt a different sort of Tower-Defence game, in which I mean that the zombies don’t follow the usual zig-zag path to reach your house. Instead, there are five straight paths that the zombies can take. The variety of plants at your disposal is pretty limited at first, but as you progress through levels you will earn more. Some plants act as turrets, which shoot out green peas at the zombies, slowly dismembering the limbs of them, while others crush, slow, block and even eat zombies — the amount is staggering.

Your neighbour, Crazy Dave, also helps you out a little, providing tips and selling you useful items in his own crazy way. There’s no story behind how these zombies have invaded, nor your location — but again, this is in essence a tower-defence game — and I personally don’t mind the absence of any explanation, mainly due to the fact that Plants vs. Zombies is so much fun that you’ll forget about it by just playing the tutorial.

The main aspect of the game is Adventure Mode, where you must battle it out against seemingly endless waves of zombies. At the start, you’re provided with an extremely helpful tutorial that should get new comers to the series up on their feet and planting in minutes — it did for me. In Adventure Mode, you’ll be defending not only your front yard, but also your back yard (swimming pool included) and even your roof.

Zombies on pogo-sticks... on a roof?

At certain levels, more plants are made available to the player, in the form of cards. At the beginning of each level, players choose a certain amount of plants which they wish to use — the limit starts off pretty low, but by gaining coins, you can unlock more once you find your crazy neighbour’s key, which in turn unlocks his shop. On top of earning new plants to use, you’ll also unlock new game modes which come in the form of presents — again, these will pop up at a certain level and the game doesn’t allow you to miss catching it.

PopCap has combated repetitiveness by altering how you play from time to time, for example, you could find yourself planting flowers — the usual way — and then next level you’ll be bowling down zombies using oversized potatoes; PopCap really knows how to catch you off guard.

No, really. There's bowling.
No, really. There's bowling.

Adventure Mode will keep you going for quite a long time, and defiantly has a big variety inside. Especially when the game goes from day to night — that’s when the challenge starts.

There are several different game modes, including Survival (self explanatory), Versus (you and another player go head-to-head as one of you play as the home owner while the other controls the zombies) and Co-Op (yes, it’s exactly what you think) and a Puzzle mode. As mentioned above, you need to play certain levels on Adventure Mode first before proceeding to said game modes.

Game play will become more intense the further you go. Collecting suns will become an instinct and your planting tactics will always change.

In terms of graphics, the game hasn’t changed much from the PC version — the visuals do look a bit more sharp and crisp, but apart from that it’s the same cartoon styled goodness that players of the other games will still love. The atmosphere in the game is anything but scary, it’s more of a comic one.

Prior to the game’s release, I had been curious as to how the developers would come about with the controls; for anyone who’s played the PC version, you’ll know that more-or-less everything is done with a mouse — including obtaining suns, a key aspect of the game as you need suns to plant — And I can confidently say that PopCap have done an incredibly good job with them. You move the cursor around with the analogue stick, which gives you completely free control over it, and which ever section your cursor is closet to, is where the plant will be potted.

Also, sun collecting has been changed too. Now, all you need to do when a sun pops up is hold on to the trigger button and they’ll be sucked up.

My only criticism towards this game is the music. No, it’s not because it doesn’t sound good, in fact, the tunes are quite catchy, it’s just that the repetitiveness of the music can actually turn a good, interesting level dull.

The verdict

Plants vs. Zombies has a mind blowing amount of content, at 1200 Microsoft Points this game is a steal. With 5 different game modes to choose from, including a never ending Survival mode, an extremely detailed Adventure mode, and two very enjoyable 2-player modes, this is a game that no Xbox 360 owner should be without. This game will keep you going for weeks.

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