Plants vs Zombies Review

I think whoever wrote this game was watching a little too much late night TV. Plants Versus Zombies?? Sounds like someone tried to mix "Little Shop of Horrors" with "Night of the Living Dead"! Whatever their inspiration was, the results are impressive.

Main Window

Plants vs. Zombies is one of the strangest casual games I've reviewed. In this game, you live in a nice house that's across the street from the cemetery -- which turns out to be your main problem. It seems that zombies keep on wandering across the street to try to get into your house and eat you. Like most zombies, they hunt human flesh and limp around like a 40's version of the mummy only without the wrappings. Once they get across the lawn to your house, the game is over and the zombies win. Unlike other zombie games, you don't have an array of shotguns, miniguns, big-guns or nuclear bombs to stop them; you only have plants!

But these plants are special!

The game window shows your lawn with only the edge of the road on the right and the edge of the house on the left. Zombies head towards the house from the road across your lawn which is where the battle takes place. The yard is not visibly divided but plants and zombies stay in one of five horizontal lanes with no crossing over.

The first few levels are tutorials to show you how things work and they limit the lawn to only one lane. The basic plants are introduced and you can see how they can stop zombies.


Chomper Eating
Chomper Eating!
Plants can be divided into three basic groups: production, defense and offense. Let's start with the offense. Your basic weapon against rampaging zombies is the "pea-shooter" which, as it's name implies, shoots peas at zombies as they stagger across your yard. If you rely only on pea-shooters, you'll need one in each of the lanes that the lawn is divided into. Plants only shoot straight across the lane they're in and won't effect zombies in adjacent ones. As the levels progress, you discover new seeds that allow you to grow more aggressive plants. Cherry bombs, Chompers, Snow Peas and others all have unique strengths and weaknesses that you have to balance to successfully defeat the zombies. For instance, Chompers will devour zombies whole but are vulnerable when chewing. Since Cherry Bombs are explosive, they will destroy zombies in multiple lanes.

Zombie attacks a Wall-Nut
Zombie attacking
a Wall-Nut
Potato mine takes out a zombie
Exploding Potato Mine
Takes out a Zombie!
Sometimes, there are just too many zombies to shoot so you need some defenses to slow them down. A few of the options you have are the Wall-Nut and the Potato Mine. A Wall-Nut acts as a wall to the zombies and they must destroy it in order to get by it. The Wall-Nut does not stop your peas so you can attack and destroy zombies while they're busy trying to clear the obstruction. Potato Mines will blow up an zombie that steps on them but they must be given a chance to arm themselves. Unarmed Potato Mines are easily destroyed by zombies.

Sunflower Making sun points
Sunflower making
sun points
You are limited to the number of plants you can produce by the amount of sun points you can get. Sun points come in the form of small suns falling from the sky that you must collect. You'll quickly find that the falling suns won't produce enough sun points to create the plants you need but you have another option: the sunflower. Plant a few sunflowers and, after a short while, they will start producing sun points. Your first impulse would be to plant about 15 of these but they have no offensive and will be quickly destroyed if not protected. Eventually, you'll get to levels where the zombies will attach at night when you'll have no sun falling from the sky. For night battles, you'll have to rely Sunflowers and special plants designed for night battles such as Puff-Shrooms and Sun-Shrooms.

Let's see how the game actually plays.

To start, the yard is usually zombie and plant free. If there are plants that you need to remove, you can use the shovel icon. At the top of the window, will be a series of six seed packets that you can choose from. Select a packet and place it anywhere on the lawn to grow that plant. Seed packets have a recharge time they must go though regardless of how many sun points you have so you can't simple create 20 pea shooters in 20 mouse clicks.

As the zombies progress across your lawn, you'll have to balance offense, defense and production to keep them from breaking through. The first zombie in a lane that makes it to the house will get run over by the lawn mower, but that only works once per lane. Any other zombies getting to the house will cause you to lose the game.

Zombie Bucket
Zombie Armor!
Zombies may not be very quick but they do adapt. As the levels progress, you'll notice zombies will arrive wearing metal buckets on their heads to protect them from the pea shooters. Others will hold newspapers in front of them to fend off attacks until the newspaper shreds. On the offensive side, zombies in track shorts will use a pole to pole vault over your Wall-Nuts and attack plants behind them. Just when you think a new plant gives you the edge, the zombies find a way to counter it.

Zombie Bowling
Wall-Nut looks for
a strike!
After a number of levels, you'll find that the number of seed packets you have access to is higher than the six you're allowed to use. When this happens, you'll be required to choose which six plants will be the best choice to beat the zombies for that level. Choose wisely!

In between some levels, you'll be able to play mini games to get more points. One game offers you plants to use from a scrolling menu that can be planted instantly. If you choose wisely, you'll be able to stop the zombies and get extra points. Another game gives you a Wall-Nut that you "bowl" at oncoming zombies for points. When the Wall-Nut hits a zombie, it will deflect into other lanes and score more zombie hits for higher scores. Even more minigames are offered at higher levels.

Choose your plants

Plants vs. Zombies is a really innovative and fun game that belongs in a genre by itself. The variety of plants and the humorous zombie defenses keep gameplay fresh and challenging. The best part of this game is it's replay ability. Many games are ready for deletion the moment you complete them but not Plants Versus Zombies! The second go around will be just as good as the first producing an amazing gaming value.

This is how I rate Plants vs. Zombies:

Cost - Very affordable at $19.99

Available Platforms - PC and Mac

Gameplay - Excellent! Fast action that keeps you thinking keep the game engaging and exciting.

Graphics - Top notch cartoon style plants and zombies really fit the concept of this game.

Originality - Plants vs. Zombies??? Need I say more? You don't get much more original than this.

Strong Points - Originality and challenging gameplay.

Weak Points - None. As with any great game, I do wish it were longer.

Boredom/Frustration Ratio: 1/1 - Never a dull moment with this game!

Overall Rating: 10 - Excellent in every way. If someone says there's no new ideas for computer games, show them Plants vs. Zombies.

Conclusion:An amusing concept with great gameplay makes a winning combination. Plants vs. Zombies lives up to the hype to produce a superior gaming experience.

Download Plants vs. Zombies for PC
Download Plants vs.Zombies for Mac
from The Shareware Genie and try it for one hour free. The price is $19.99.