Review: Plants vs. Zombies for XBLA

For months I’ve been hearing people on Twitter and other social networking sites singing the praises of Plants vs. Zombies by PopCap Games. As a person who isn’t too into the tower defense genre, I avoided it like the plague. Up until a week and a half ago, I was convinced that PvZ was another one of those games trying to cash in on the zombie craze that’s been going on right now. If it wasn’t for the delightful demo that’s currently available on Xbox Live, I’d probably still think people were insane. While the demo is great for giving people a feel on what the full game is about, it doesn’t do it justice.

After going through the actual game on local co-op and single player, I can honestly say that it shines when you have somebody else who can assist. I should probably clarify that the game doesn’t offer true co-op, nor does it have online co-op. It’s really more like this: Player 1 is the account that’s logged in for most achievements and is the one progressing in the game. Player 2 can do everything Player 1 can like planting your army, using large sticks of butter to delay the undead from progressing, and is your zombie killing wingman.

The entire point of the game is to prevent the zombies from reaching your house. It isn’t explained how the zombies came to be, or why they are focusing on your house, but going into a convoluted story would’ve actually ruined the game. One of your neighbors, Crazy Dave, pops in every so often to give you tips and let you purchase upgrades and new items.

With various types of flora and fauna, you must defend your residence at all costs. Some of the plants bring in extra sunshine, your primary resource, while the others are a mixture of attackers, single-use lifesavers, and defenders. Before the zombies begin to advance, you are given a brief amount of time to start setting up your plants and prepare a strategy based on what zombies are heading your way. Most plants cost you sunshine, so it’s best to make sure you have enough sunflowers or other plants of that nature around. Once you’re into the round and the zombies are coming, it’s important to pay attention to a bar that can be found on the lower right portion of the screen. That bar lets you know how long the round is, how far you’re into it, and how many waves of zombies you can expect.

The zombies come in several flavors as well, with some having specific weaknesses, so I suggest reading the Almanac that’s given by Crazy Dave. As you progress, the new zombies you encounter get more difficult, but it helps the prevent the gameplay from getting stagnant and repetitive. The initial battleground is your front yard in the daytime, but other arenas include the backyard, your tiled roof, and even your yards at night. Some of the more challenging levels were when I had to battle in the fog. The game does give you extra plants that will help clear away the fog, but that means it takes up a slot that could be used for something more helpful like a Tall-Nut or Snow Pea.

Graphically the game is very pleasing to the eye. The colors are vibrant, and everything looks like it could be found in a cartoon. It has that kind of whimsical feel to it. Each type of zombie has their own style. all of the plants are distinct looking, and I really fell in love with the animation. The music itself is addicting , and it never became annoying. I’ve often found myself humming a couple of the tracks because they are that catchy and enjoyable.

All in all, Plants vs. Zombies is a true delight in every respect. The concept of the game is simple, yet fun; the graphics are a perfect fit with the overall tone of the game; and with all of the game modes you can unlock, you really get a lot of replay value.

Plants vs. Zombies is available now through the Xbox Live Marketplace for only 1200 MSP.


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3 Responses to “Review: Plants vs. Zombies for XBLA”

  1. Eddy says:

    Yea, I bought this game on Steam a while back and MAN I love it. It’s my favorite Tower Defense game. I imagine it’s probably more manageable to play with a mouse, though.

  2. JamesC says:

    I actually JUST got this a few days ago! I’ve been playing it non-stop on my iPhone, lol… Also nice placement of the Ad for said game—->

    • lindsey says:

      I have it on my iPhone as well. There are some things about the XBLA version that make it superior to the iPhone version, but there are also some things about the iPhone version I like better than the XBLA one and wished they would’ve brought them over. Obviously things are slightly easier with the iPhone touch screen, but certain things like digging up plants, is significantly easier with a controller.

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