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REVIEW: Plants Vs. Zombies (XBLA)

Plants Vs. Zombies (PvZ) is the most popular Popcap Game ever released, even more so than such titles as Bejeweled or Peggle, though it seems any game that features zombies tends to get a fan following. PvZ, however, takes the tower defense game and adds a mix of real-time strategy to the mix, and has struck a chord.

The game has been released on PC and Mac, as well as iPhone and iPod Touch; in fact, it’s one of the most popular apps on iOS. To rehash the game, you are a survivor who is facing an onslaught of zombies intent on chowing down on your juicy brains, and your only defense are plants that you put in the ground. A few provide sunlight, which is the currency with which to purchase the plants, while others are offensive weapons that damage the zombies. Others serve as protection, and still others have special effects such as turning a zombie on its mates. The zombies themselves come in many flavors, from gargantuan behemoths to zombies floating in the air attached to helium balloons to Michael Jackson breakdancing zombies disco dancing zombies with their own backup dancers. There are five scenarios in which you fight: day, night, a pool, a pool at night, and the roof. The latter four circumstances require special strategies, from having to plant nocturnal plants (and a lack of ambient sunlight to capture) to having to put plants in pots. For more detail on the gameplay, you can check the original review here.

The chief question is: how does the Xbox Live Arcade version work, and what else does it bring to the lawn?

The basic gameplay is completely unchanged for the most part. If you’ve played the campaign before, you’ll find nothing new here. The only difference is that instead of using a mouse and keyboard or a touch screen, you move with a gamepad. To compensate, your cursor will pick up any nearby coins or sunlight automatically. Plants are selected using the shoulder buttons, while digging up plants only requires holding down the B button. This makes some of the game easier, especially when you want to dig up a plant and quickly replace it; all you need to do is hold down B for a moment, then press A. The cursor is fast enough that once can do a quick sweep around the field to pick up stray coins and sunlight.

The size of the screen for widescreen gaming has some nifty features. There’s now a large hedge on the rightmost side of the screen for non-roof levels, and zombies will announce their presence by shaking the bushes from where they are about to exit. This makes planning for them a little simpler. Otherwise, the game looks the same as it normally does, if now having HD resolution.

All of the minigames from the Game of the Year Edition are present as well, including the hyped multiplayer mode, which has both versus and co-op gameplay. Versus is particularly entertaining as one player sends his zombie horde to attack the other player, while the other player has to not only defend but shoot down five targets on the zombie players side (which is fair, since the zombie player is trying to eat five brains.) While both modes are fun – teaming up against zombies or facing off as, well, plants versus zombies, there is one huge hitch: no online. Both modes are completely local. This is a baffling omission, as online zombie killing and Xbox Live go hand in hand. There’s a social networking aspect as well, as you build your virtual home with zombie carcasses, and can check out other friends’ zombie homes, but again, without online multiplayer, it just seems empty.

All in all, this is the same addictive Plants Vs. Zombies everyone loves, and for only 1200 MSP ($14.99); the regular Plants Vs. Zombies on PC/Mac retails for $19.99. The lack of online multiplayer is the only serious mar to the game, and responsible for the less-than-perfect score. If and when Popcap patches in multiplayer, tack on the final half-star.

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    One Response to “REVIEW: Plants Vs. Zombies (XBLA)”

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    1. chella Says:

      hi naku….nakaka adict talaga…

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