By Tom Horan
Zombies have become so accepted in pop culture that their presence in absolutely anything doesn’t have to be justified.
The premise of Plants vs. Zombies is that there are zombies, you have various deadly plants and you can’t let the zombies in to your house.
There’s no explanation as to why the zombies are here or how long you’ve been holed up inside your house.
Not that you’ll have time to care about the world past your front lawn as instead you’ll be dragging and dropping sentient plants, the strength and intelligence of which isn’t explained either.
Maybe the experimentation into giving sunflowers happy faces is what caused the zombie apocalypse and the game is a didactic piece on the recklessness of modern science.
The controls are much less complex than the implications of a world where plants are humanity’s last line of defence just the left mouse button is used.
The user interface is straightforward enough that you’ll have the controls down within minutes, partly because there isn’t all that much to control. The front lawn you must defend is split up into a grid, Zombies will come in waves across the grid and you must strateigically place plants to stop them. The Pea Shooter simply fires a pea straight ahead, the Wall-nut acts as a barricade and the Potato Mine is a mine made from a potato. The trick is choosing the right plant for the right job in the right place. You earn a new plant with a new ability after passing nearly every level and there will come a point where you can’t bear to decide which few you’ll choose take with you.
You’ll have your favourite plants, sometimes just because old habits die hard and you don’t want to risk a new strategy.
Half the plants I used were the ones I was given early on and no plants are absolutely better than any other plants, they’ve all got their own distinctive skill, look and personality.
I feel for the Wall-nut, with its vacant stare and dopey grin, every time a zombie bites a chunk out of it’s head.
The zombies are equally varied and charismatic and their attempts to eat your brains play out like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, with them utilising javelins, bobsleds, and trained dolphins. The zombies will send you badly-spelled notes to trick you out of your house signed from “Your Muther (not the zombies)”.
To add to the whackiness, you can purchase upgrades from your insane neighbour’s car boot, “Crazy Dave’s Twiddy Dinkies”.
Though very straightforward, the constant introduction of new plants and zombies, stops the game from getting very old very fast.
The presentation and humour are more accomplished than you’d have any right to expect, and it’s just plain good fun.