Plants vs Zombies is the latest game to be ported to Windows Phone 7 in Microsoft’s recent push for well known titles in the Marketplace.
PopCaps game is well known for a reason, and that is the combination of high quality, addictive gameplay and a hearty sense of humour. This combination has made the app a top selling release on every format it has been released on, and the success story looks set to continue on Windows Phone.
The game sets you with the task of defending your home against a zombie onslaught. The zombies shuffle towards your house, moaning and groaning, and the only things you can do to stop them is to drop defensive plants in their path, obstructing and destroying the horde.
You can lay all kinds of plants, from simple pea shooters to land mines, cherry bombs and everything you can imagine. The zombies also come in all shapes and sizes, and it is here that the comedic character of the game truly shines, with highlights including a Michael Jackson zombie, in full Thriller regalia who comes with his own troupe of dancers.
The zombies can only come across your lawn in five directions, so in the sense of placing defences, the title is a lot simpler than other tower defence games. Instead, the game is all about reacting to different zombie threats as fast as you can. A landmine wont stop a pole vaulting zombie, who will use his pole to jump over it, but as he can only jump over one obstacle before he loses his pole, placing a small coconut barrier before the landmine is the way to go. A simple example of the rushing around you have to do, particularly later in the game where you have to deal with all kinds of threats.
Sunlight is the currency here, as you use this to buy more plants. It regularly falls from the sky, and touching it adds more to your total, but you will need sunflower plants to survive for any length of time. A good start to any level will be a full row of sunflower plants followed by a full row of peashooters, and you can then add defences for specific threats as you go.
Some levels are set at night, on water or on the roof, and these all need their own tactics and strategies to win. I liked the nighttime levels the least, as I found them overlong and rather oppressive, although they do help to provide some much needed variety.
The need to choose only a certain amount of your unlocked plants means that there is a real need to plan ahead, but on most of the levels I’m sure you will stick to a favoured few plants. You have to bear a lot of things in mind when selecting the plants, such as recharge time, sunlight cost and effectiveness.
The graphics are really nice, with highly detailed sprites that are well animated and have a lot of character. Like wise the music is very memorable, and the kind that will stick in your mind long after you have finished playing the game.
There are fifty levels to play through, and this will take some time. The first half of the game is perhaps too easy, but the second half more than makes up for this, with several levels containing a vicious selection of zombies. There are also a load of minigames to play through, probably enough that other developers would release as a package in their own right. There is a fantastic almanac of all the creatures and plants in the game, and even the credits screen has a few surprises, if you keep scrolling after the end.
This is an Xbox Live title, so there are plenty of leaderboards and achievements to get your teeth into. Overall, in terms of content, this is probably one of the best value for money titles on Windows Phone 7.
The real joy here is really the hilarious zombies, especially the great moments when you have dozens of plants fighting a huge horde off. Micro managing a tricky foe while all hell is breaking loose everywhere else is when the game is at it’s very best.
This is a great game, and a fantastic addition to the WP7 library. It is, however a title that has been around for a while on other platforms, but I can understand Microsoft wanting this and games like Angry Birds on the format. Would I prefer Microsoft to concentrate on original content? Yes of course, but when the titles they are bringing over are of as high a caliber as Plants vs Zombies, then it is hard to really complain.
Overall, one of the best tower defence titles available, and a great job has been done with this port. The Xbox Live features are welcome, and this would be an outstanding addition to anyones collection.