Friday, September 5, 2014

Plants Vs. Zombies

Up until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of a "tower defense" game.  Once I did know, they held pretty much no interest for me.

"Set up things to stop invaders from reaching your base?  Can I create inventive traps, change the landscape, or otherwise try to apply my own style to the game?  No?  Meh."

Little did I know that things would change over time.  Tower defense games would become their own niche in the market, covering everything from medieval fantasy to science fiction to gangsters to, well, zombies.  But how do you make a zombie game interesting so it isn't just people with shotguns trying to not get overwhelmed?

...okay, go on...

When I picked up Plants vs. Zombies, I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Was I in control of a plant and I had to shoot approaching zombies?  Did I have to plant them and hope they grew in time?  Was I managing a large crop around a house as the zombies pressed in from each side?

Well, no.  None of that, really.

Utilizing a simple grid five rows high (later increased to six) and seven to eight across, you set up your plants to gather resources, shoot approaching zombies, block zombies, or otherwise prevent them from reaching your house.  No, I don't know how they get planted if you stay indoors to hide, but hush.  That's thinking too much about it.

There's a wide range of plants with various abilities, though I did find myself using just a few basic ones and then only using a few regulars or the newest one that was required to defend against a new zombie type.  A lot of the plants just went completely unused.

There's also a wide range of zombies, some more intimidating than others.  Most zombies simply move forward slowly, but some have protective headgear (traffic cones and buckets), some manage to jump over the first plant they meet, others get enraged when you shoot them and get faster, and some are simply hulking brutes that take forever to drop.  There are zombie zambonis (complete with a luge team following it), zombie disco masters that summon other zombies, snorkel zombies, pretty much anything you can think of.  It's fun that there's such a wide variety to keep track of as they start to march across the map, and keeping track of your defenses against their onslaught is extremely engaging.

The touch controls actually work really well for the game, since it's mostly the precise placement and moving of plants.  A few things, like exploding cherries, have to be placed strategically, and I rarely ever found the game putting something where I didn't want it.

The challenge of each level does go up, and there is a sudden rather steep learning curve towards the end when you see new zombies but have no idea what they do until after they start moving across the map.  I'll admit, I pulled up a guide just to get an idea of what each zombie did ahead of time, but never once needed one to figure out how to beat a stage.

Plants vs. Zombies is an amusing lark, a simple way to kill time during lunch or while lying in bed.  The story line is silly, the characters are silly, and the concept is silly, but it's all silly in a way that's still fun.  When you're launching cabbages across your roof at zombies or planting a strange seaweed in your pool to pull zombies under, there's a great sense of satisfaction when the wave of zombies ends and you realize you survived another round.

1 comment:

Néna Riley said...

Plants vs zombies is by far one of my favorite games!!