iTuesday Review: Plants Vs. Zombies

Hello, and welcome to the first iTuesday, a recurring segment where we will be looking at games for the iPhone and iPad. This week we take a look at PopCap’s Plants VS. Zombies.

Plants Vs. Zombies is a strategy game where you protect your home (and your brains) from a zombie attack using a range of different plants all with different abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Each round starts the same way; you need to plant sunflowers so you can get sun. Each plant requires a certain amount of sun to plant. The game makes things interesting with different levels, adding new challenges such as pools (only certain plants can be planted in a pool), fog (making it difficult to see the zombies coming), and rooftop (requiring plant pots for you to plant on). After most levels you are given a new plant that you could add to your arsenal for the upcoming round. You can only bring 6 types of plants into battle with you (with the opportunity to buy more as the game goes on) and you’ll find yourself having favorite plants that accompany you into every battle.

The game also has a few fun mini games throughout it. The premise of the majority of these games are similar to regular game play except you don’t get the opportunity to pick your plant types and you don’t have to plant sunflowers, instead plants come down a conveyer belt and you plant them as you wish. The mini games start with a cut scene from Crazy Dave. Crazy Dave is the type of guy who would rub bacon all over his face. Why would he do that? Because he’s crazy! These cut scenes are usually good for a laugh or two. Even though they are completely unnecessary they actually add to the enjoyment level of the game.

I was shocked when I discovered the original version of Plants Vs. Zombies was for the PC. This game is perfect on a touch screen, and seems like it was originally built for it. I found myself tapping my fingers all over the screen trying to collect sun as fast as possible. As soon as I could think of where my next plant should go my finger was tapping that area of the screen planting it. Before I could think of my next move both my thumbs were tapping like crazy gathering more sun, an action that just can’t be replicated by pointing and clicking a mouse.

The game was highly addicting. I found myself laying awake in bed on multiple occasions telling myself I would just do one more level then call it a night. This negotiating with myself would repeat several times until I had trouble keeping my eyes open. I even had to put headphones in while I played in bed so the sound of the zombies eating my pea-shooters wouldn’t keep my girlfriend up.

Plants Vs. Zombies for the iPhone/iPod touch is available for $2.99 in the app store, and is well worth every penny. It would be the perfect game to accompany you on a long bus ride or plane trip, or just to kill time or cure boredom. It’s a game that’s easy to learn and fun to play. If you are capable of operating an iPhone, you’re capable of playing this one.

There is also a version available for the iPad. According to the description in the app store, it offers a couple enhancements that are specific for this version. I tried reading customer reviews in the app store to figure out if these additions made it worth buying the iPad version, but the only thing I could find out is that everyone was pissed PopCap removed a Michael Jackson zombie in one of the software updates. The truth is the iPad version is almost identical to the iPhone version. Sure the graphics are better and a couple things have been rearranged to take advantage of the iPad’s screen real estate, but not much has really changed.

The main addition to the iPad version is a gameplay mode known as survival mode. In survival mode all the levels in a given zone are played without breaks. After you get to a flag (where the level would end in adventure mode) you get the chance to re-pick your plants, while keeping the ones that you have already planted. The biggest problem with this mode is it’s only playable after you have completed adventure mode.  Survival mode is so much easier than adventure mode because you don’t lose plants between flags, and you can choose between any plant types that you’ve earned when you played adventure mode. If you’re capable of beating adventure mode, survival mode doesn’t present any kind of a challenge and is pretty much worthless.

The iPad version of the game has a $6.99 price tag. While the improved graphics are nice, if you already own the iPhone version it would probably be best to save your 6.99 for another game, otherwise you’re going to feel like you bought the same game twice. If you don’t own an iPhone or iPod touch, 6.99 is a fair price to experience this game for the first time.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

CBR Break Down:

Device Played On: iPhone 4 and iPad (1st generation)

Approximate Time to Completion: 5-7 hours

Price Bought at: $2.99/$6.99

Current Price: $2.99/$6.99

Recommend Purchase Price: $2.99

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