Thursday, January 23, 2014

Plants Vs. Zombies (Vita) Review

While looking for things to download and play on my PS Vita, I ran across Plants Vs. Zombies, which I had obtained thanks to Playstation Plus.  Seeing as how I was one of maybe ten people on the planet that had not played it yet, I figured I would give it a go.  I am glad I did.

The game has a very colorful, cartoon-y look and it's very easy to make out what's what on the screen.  The animations are also really good, from the bobbing sunflowers to the furrowed brow of the corn-a-pult when attacking.  All the plants and zombies move and have personality to them, which really makes the game really pop when looking at it.  The zombies do make their typical groans, but the music is pretty catchy.

Plants Vs. Zombies is a tower defense style game, which is a genre I do not have much experience in.  Basically, there is an opposing force that is trying to get to the end of the map and you have to stop them.  This game has the playing field on a grid, with the zombies coming from the right.  You must collect sunlight to buy the plants you need to stop them.  Thankfully, the touch screen of the Vita makes this very easy to do, as you can just touch the plant you want and touch where it goes.  Sunlight can be collected by touching it or shaking the Vita when the sunlight is onscreen.  It makes the action really quick without overwhelming you.  It's really nice to have the speed of the touch screen (as opposed to using an analog stick or d-pad) when the huge waves approach.

The first few levels of Adventure mode teach you about the first few plants and how to play the game.  Every 10th level is harder than the rest, and is kind of like a boss fight.  After that, you will switch defense locations around the house.  It starts in the backyard, but extends to the pool, at night and even the roof!  Each location has something unique that you must make use of different plants to be the most effective.  For example, only certain plants can be put directly into water, and the slanted roof makes it harder for straight shooters to hit their targets.  It mixes up the levels enough that you don't get bored.  Overall, there are 50 levels to complete and the last is a massive boss fight.

After completing Adventure, you unlock a bevy of mini-games and extra levels to do.  These are really fun, so it's a shame that you get so little while going through Adventure, just to get them all dumped on you once it's complete.  You get several survival levels, which play how you would expect.  A personal favorite are the levels where you play as the zombies.  A lot of the unlocked levels are puzzle ones, where you have to figure out how to beat them.  Overall, there are a lot of extra modes and levels to do once you are done with Adventure mode and don't feel like playing that anymore.

Throughout playing, you will collect money that can buy stuff at Crazy Dave's shop (the back of his car).  Most of it is just extra stuff, but there are a few actual plants to use in the modes.  It takes a lot of money to buy everything in the shop, and at first it takes time to get that money.  After it's all purchased, there's just nothing left to do with the money.  Sure, you could keep buying fertilizer and the spray for the Zen Garden, but that will just give you more money.  Unless you are after trophies, there isn't much you will need to buy at all.  As far as I've heard, the money was a real problem in the earlier versions, so I guess I'll be fine that not as much is needed in the Vita port.

Most of the trophies in the game won't take a lot of effort.  You'll get some without even trying, and there's a few completion ones.  There are a few lengthy ones, like beating Adventure mode twice and some of the long survival fights.  Unfortunately, there is no level select for Adventure mode, which would make some a little easier or faster to get.  A very achievable list, but the last few will require many hours.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Plants vs. Zombies.  The game is a lot of fun and has tons of content.  I only played the Vita version, and I imagine the game is much better with touch controls versus using a controller.  I highly recommend this version, and it even has me wanting to play the upcoming Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.  I even let my 6 year old play some and he enjoyed it too.  Most of the stuff is beyond him at this point, but there was enough of the quicker stages that he had fun playing.

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