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About Plants vs. Zombies

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Genre: Strategy | Publisher: PopCap | Platform: Mobile
Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense game developed by PopCap Games and distributed by Electronic Arts. PopCap originally made a name for itself by creating casual browser-based games that are easy to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, but which is also notorious time sinks. Who hasn’t booted up Bejeweled, for example, to kill “a few minutes,” only to look up at the clock three hours later?

Plants vs. Zombies has become one of PopCap’s flagship titles due to smart, just-one-more-try gameplay and an adorable aesthetic. Since its original publication on PC and Mac in 2009, it has been ported to various mobile platforms and home consoles.

Plants vs. Zombies: Core Challenges

The playing field in Plants vs. Zombies starts out as a suburban lawn, and changes locations over five levels consisting of ten challenges each. Zombies shuffle from the street toward the house, and you must plant different types of flora to stop them. The playing field is divided in to lanes like a bowling alley, and you must manage each lane against several waves of zombies. If a single one breaches your defenses, the game ends and you must restart the level. 

Managing resources in Plants vs. Zombies is one of the toughest parts of the game. Plants require sunlight to grow, and the game presents a couple of different ways to collect it. Some levels occur during the day, and sunlight pours down from the sky at regular intervals. Night levels force you to rely on sunflowers and mushrooms for your sunlight needs. Zombies will eat any plant in their path, including sunflowers, so placement and protection are crucial to success.
However, sometimes sacrifice is necessary to progress, which may annoy perfectionists. For example, early levels feature a lawnmower at the end of each lane. If a zombie breaks through all your defenses in a given lane, the lawnmower will start up and plow over every zombie in the lane, temporarily clearing it. While your instinct might urge you to save all the lawnmowers for the last big wave of zombies, it can be very helpful to let a couple go right at the beginning of the level to give yourself time to plant sunflowers and build defenses in other lanes.

What We Like About Plants vs. Zombies

The music
Most game composers are not household names, but Laura Shigihara is trying to buck that trend. While her most famous score might be for the indie adventure game To the Moon, her work on Plants vs. Zombies should not be ignored. The music consistently captures the cute and fun, but also panicky vibe of the gameplay itself — think background music at a creepy carnival.

The art design
Plants vs. Zombies has become so ubiquitous in the gaming scene that it is easy to forget what a novel confrontation it originally portrayed. There is a fun duality in the artwork so that both sides look like they come from the same cute, cartoonish universe, but are also immediately distinguishable. Plants are brightly colored with lots of soft, round edges. Zombies are more angular and painted in grays and browns. They’ll never be confused with enemies in Resident Evil, but they still evoke that inevitable, insatiable shambling death that good zombie games do so well.

I suppose you could make this argument for any game, but there is something especially satisfying about growing a field of fierce little plants in just such a way that they hold off ever-evolving hordes of zombies. By the second level, the amount and combination of zombie enemies result in difficulty spikes that will certainly have you replaying some challenges several times until you get them right.

Story and Gameplay of Plants vs. Zombies

Plants vs. Zombies features an intuitive point-and-click interface that lets you select different types of plants and place them with ease. And that’s a good thing, because you can’t waste time worrying about controls. Each stage begins with perhaps thirty seconds of ominous peace while you plant sunflowers and wait for the first zombies to appear. Like any enjoyable tower defense game, the first enemies arrive slowly and in small numbers. But soon enough, all six lanes fill with different types of zombies that require different tactics to take down. There are no bosses, but every stage ends with a large final wave of enemies.

Plants vs. Zombies FAQ

Are there different Plants vs. Zombies game modes? 
The meat of the game is Adventure Mode, which consists of five levels of ten challenges each. Other modes include mini-games, puzzles, and survival mode, all of which can be unlocked by progressing through Adventure Mode.

Are there multiplayer modes? 
Console versions of Plants vs. Zombies feature competitive multiplayer in which one player controls the plants and the other controls the zombies. For whatever reason, this mode didn’t make the cut for PC, Mac, or mobile versions.

How many different kinds of plants are there? 
Although you start out with only a peashooter — a basic but effective projectile attacker — after each level you unlock new plants to employ in your army. By the end of the game, you can utilize up to 48 different units. The most powerful can be purchased using in-game currency dropped my some zombies.

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