Let me just say that I really like zombies. I mean, I doubt I’d be saying that if (and, let’s face it, when) they rise up and start looking to munch on our juicy innards, but for now they’re a-okay in my book. I never met a film or game zombie that I didn’t like, and despite the fact that the game was made for a smartphone, Plants vs. Zombies for Apple’s iOS platform is one incredibly addictive playing experience.
Plants vs. Zombies is a typical tower defense game. Here, your house stands on one side of the screen and the encroaching zombies are on the other, separated only by your lush green lawn. To keep the undead from waltzing in, you have to set up plants which will effectively combat the various enemy types that appear on the screen.
It might sound a little boring on paper, but it’s actually quite fun. What an interesting mash up of differing worlds: zombie apocalypse and gardening! The plants at your disposal act almost as characters themselves. They each serve a differing purpose (some peashooters are like machine guns while some plants sit idly waiting to reach out and eat a nearby enemy) but the cartoonish design gives them a personality that makes watching them get eaten by a stronger zombie almost sad. Also, players have to be on the lookout for drops of sunlight which must be collected in order to grow new plants for when a horde of last minute zombies comes shambling toward the house.
The first few levels are more introductory, so fending off attacks isn’t all that difficult. But, that just makes some of the later levels all the more challenging when you find yourself suddenly attacked by zombie pole vaulters who can jump your walnut blockades, or old newspaper-reader zombies who rush at your plants once they start taking damage.
The environments offer some nice variety, too. The action starts on your lawn, but then shifts to nighttime (when it’s harder to collect sunlight), then to the backyard with its pool and a different set of water-based enemies, before finally winding up on the roof, where the angle of the playing field and lack of soil make things like corn on the cob catapults and flower pots a necessary consideration. Everything leads up to a rooftop boss fight pitting you against a really big baddie.
The game is a blast. And the music that plays walks a nice line between fun and slightly sinister. Honestly, if I hear that music playing in my house someday, I’ll probably bob my head along with it while going to check all the windows for undead quarterbacks or zombies wearing traffic cones on their heads, just like in the game.
Plants vs. Zombies does nothing to sway me against the oncoming zombie apocalypse. If anything, it’s reassuring to know that when I have to defend myself against zombified quarterbacks and undead disco dancers, I can do so from the relative safety of my home with little more than a few lily pads and giant walnuts.