PopCap Games sent me a copy of their Plants vs. Zombies computer game. My 12-year-old son agreed to review the game. This is a compilation of his responses to my questions.
Plants vs. Zombies is a defense type game. You are defending your house from the Zombies. It starts out easy but gets harder later on. The very first thing you do is collect sun by clicking on little sun icons that fall down from the sky. You need the sun to put down your Plants. The Plants shoot down the Zombies. There are night time levels and day time levels.
The Zombies can come at any time. There are different kinds of Zombies and different kinds of Plants. After several sessions of fighting them in the day time, you start to fight them at night. There is no sun at night, but you can get “sun” from Sunflowers instead. Also, at night there are mushrooms to help you fight Zombies. Some mushrooms don’t cost any sun. They aren’t as powerful as mushrooms that do cost sun. You also have lawnmowers, which mow down Zombies but can only be used once per level. (Ed. note: A sampling of the various characters in the game can be seen at the Plants vs. Zombies website. Click on the Characters button at the top of the page.)
My favorite part is playing in survival mode after I’ve already won the main game. That means you’re getting all the kinds of Zombies earlier on in the game, but you also have all the Plants. For example, you have a pea-shooter, a re-peater that shoots 2 peas, a snow pea shooter that slows the Zombies down, and a 3-peater that shoots one pea directly ahead and one to each side. You also have gatling pea shooters that shoot four peas all in the same row. Also there are flaming stumps that when you shoot peas through them they turn into flaming peas that kill Zombies better.
There is also a pool level and a roof level in both day and night. The pool level has Plants that can live in the water. In the night the pool level can have fog, and you need to get fans or lights or fire stumps to get rid of fog so you can see the Zombies. The roof levels have really cool Gargantaurs that are extra big Zombies that are really tough. You have to shoot them a lot, or use Doomshrooms or Jalapenos, and you have to kill Gargantaurs twice, plus the little guy they have on their back. Also you need pots for the roof level, because your Plants can’t grow on the roof. There are roof cleaners and pool cleaners that work sort of like lawnmowers, but you have to buy them at the shop.
People who like to solve problems fast and plan ahead will like this game. You can see what Zombies are going to be in a level before you start that level and can choose the best Plants to fight them with. You can only have so many Plants to use on any given level. After you’ve finished the main game and killed Dr. ZomBoss, there are puzzles, mini games, and survival mode to have fun with, and you can also play the main game again. So you can have fun with this for a long time. It’s not really about gardening or real plants, but there is a Zen Garden where you grow Plants and they give you money. You can use the money for buying more zombie-killing Plants.
If you are considering this as a gift but want to check it out further, there is a free demo version available for download at the website. The trailer below will give you some idea of the graphics and game play. My contact from PopCap Games says the CD is “available at all major chains (Target, Best Buy, Walmart, etc) and video game stores.” My 10-year-old and 14-year-old sons have also enjoyed it, and from looking over their shoulders, I’d say the critical factor is not age so much as whether you “like to solve problems fast and plan ahead.” And whether you can stomach the looks of those Zombies.