Plants vs Zombies – Walkthrough, Tips, Review
How the zombies have fallen. Once they were a terrifying, cannibalistic reflection of our basest impulses, but decades of B-movie hackery have reduced them to an iconic geek totem, like ninjas or pirates or nuns. Best of Casual Gameplay 2009The Return of the Living Dead plastered them with a goofy catch-phrase (“BRAAAAAAAIINNSS”), and now, except for a couple of attempts to resurrect them as drooling sprinters, they’re pretty much a joke. Just look at them here. They’ve literally been turned into plant food, getting pelted to bits by peas and cabbage.
Plants vs Zombies is the strangest, most original game from PopCap yet. If you missed the teaser, starring an adorable sunflower voiced by Laura Shigihara and an entire rave party’s worth of zombies, you might want to watch it now. It’s one of the greatest promotional videos for a game in history.
PopCap has reason to be confident. While this is basically a melding of time-management gameplay with tower defense, it’s so packed with colorful invention, it feels like a completely new concept.
You play the part of a home-owner in the midst of a typical zombie apocalypse, but exaggerated to a cartoon fever pitch. Beyond the suit-wearing regular zombies, you’ll face zombies in football gear, zombies on pogo sticks, pole-vaulting zombies, and many more. The undead starving hordes are on the march, but your back yard is standing in the way, covered with fresh, fertilized topsoil. By planting various types of seeds, you must raise a crop of warrior vegetation that can defend your brains from the imminent devouring.
In gameplay terms, you have five lanes to defend (six on some levels) against the zombies, who enter on the right side of the screen and lurch slowly towards your home on the left. You select six plant types from your arsenal at the beginning of the level and then place them strategically on the lawn where they can fire on the approaching undead, who will fight back by munching on anything in arm’s reach. You will gradually unlock a wide variety of plants (nearly 50!). Most of them act as stationary guns, periodically shooting peas or watermelons or what-have-you. Some protect the others, like the lovable Wall-Nut, some explode, like the Cherry Bomb, and some serve more specific purposes. Certain plants are effective against certain zombies, and vice versa.
LawnEach plant costs a certain amount of sunlight to create. Actual globs of sun will fall periodically to the earth, and you must click on them to add to your supply. The sunflower will be your staple crop, providing another source of sunlight globs that can be used to power the rest of your vegetable army. Watching for and collecting sun occupies your time between planting, much like the resource-gathering of Popcap’s own Insaniquarium.
There are 50 levels in the main Adventure Mode, spread across five different settings and about seven hours of gameplay. Each area requires a slightly different approach. At night-time, for example, you’ll need to deploy bargain-price mushrooms to offset the lack of sunlight. In the pool, you’ll need to support your plants on lily pads.
After completing the main storyline, there’s still plenty left to do. The Survival Modes are like extended versions of a regular level, while the Puzzle Modes mix things up by hiding a variety of enemies in breakable vases, or by casting you as the zombies against a pre-figured squadron of plants. The real treat, however, is the Mini-Games, which riff on the main theme in just about every way imaginable. Look for bizarre hybrid call-backs to PopCap’s previous games, like Bejeweled (here titled Beghouled) and Hammer Heads.