The launch of popular game franchises, such as the recent Sonic 4 arriving to the iPhone before game consoles, will eventually make seasoned gamers believe that iOS is a proper gaming with nothing to envy from other platforms. Some time ago PopCap games also tried luck porting some of its most popular titles including Peggle and Bejeweled 2, creating what I believe is a classic for any iPad owner.
Plants vs. Zombies [iPhone / iPad] is the tower defense / board game popularised as a Flash game for PC where players grow a selection of aggressive plants to defeat hordes of zombies attacking your house. The game made its debut on the AppStore last February and since its HD launch two months later, it has become the pride of many iPad owners.
Plants vs. Zombies HD takes advantage of the large screen to display a static battlefield that consists of your home's front, back garden and roof as the game progresses. You will have to choose from a wide variety of vegetable and mushroom species to counterattack the enemies assaulting your place. Somehow PopCap had to release this game for us app freaks, given the huge popularity of the zombie themes in the AppStore.
The game mechanics are based around the production and collection of sunshine, which allows you to grow new plants on your yard. A combination of sunflowers to produce mushroom and aggressive vegetables will be essential to prevent the zombies from reaching your home. Playing in adventure mode introduces you to all the types of plants available, which have different power, range and cost keeping the game really strategic.
Stronger zombies hordes will appear in further levels, so mastering a balanced production of sunshine and growing defensive and offensive species will be key to progress. As you might have noticed from the screenshots, Plants vs. Zombies uses a cartoony look and high doses of humour to keep you hooked to the game. Some of the higher level zombies are hilarious, the dialogues with your dumb neighbour, the plant description or even the help menu will get more than one smile.
All these make Plants vs. Zombies a very lovable game, but I think what keeps people coming is how well suited the gameplay is for the iPad, making for some epic gaming sessions. The touch interface will keep you taping to collect sunshine, while the incoming zombie hordes at a slow pace help you to plan the distribution of your homegrown veg. Some will feel more difficult than others, but the speed of the gameplay is spot on.
The biggest downside of Plants vs. Zombies is the lack of a free mode from the start, having to complete the whole adventure mode to unlock it. Some of my friends already had played the game, and we couldn't start a quick game choosing from all the plants seeds available right from the start. Other than that, the most annoying part are the zombie comments that, although funny, can become quite repetitive and made me play in silent mode at some point.
"Brains, I want brains." Many Plants vs. Zombies players are still asking where has the Michael Jackson zombie gone. Don't worry, without him, it is still a freaking good game.
The iPhone and HD version are slightly different but are basically the same game. I preferred playing in on the larger screen for the beautiful resized graphics and larger layout, but the pricing feels cheeky, given the premium price on both versions. I would also like to see some content updates in the future, as adding achievements is great, but I want to see new types of plants available and further levels in the future. Considering other zombie games on the AppStore, this has to be one of my top favourites.