Based on the PC smash-hit and following hot on the heels of other casual classics, PopCap’s latest has risen from the grave in an effort to win the hearts of iPhone users the world over. But will Plants vs Zombies satisfy your unnatural craving for fresh brains or does its casual background render it indigestible for hardcore gaming addicts? Read our Plants vs Zombies for iPhone review now for our official verdict.
The term “casual gaming” is bandied around a lot these days and while several notable developers and publishers have tried their hardest to ensnare this surprisingly lucrative sector of the market, none have come close to the near-domination achieved by PopCap Games.
Now the studio responsible for the likes of Bejeweled, Peggle and Zuma has unleashed its latest creation on the iPhone. And just as was the case with the aforementioned titles, you’d better ensure you’re not too attached to your spare time because as soon as you download Plants vs Zombies to your Apple device, you’re unlikely to have any.
Read our Beaterator for iPhone review
Granted, the concept behind Plants vs Zombies for iPhone is pretty off-the-wall; you’re tasked with defending your home against a flood of flesh-eating corpses but instead of the usual armoury of machine guns, rocket launchers and hand grenades that tend to feature in any title that contains the marauding undead, you instead have to rely on all manner of deadly flowers and plants.
These include missile-spitting “Pea Shooters”, voracious Venus Flytraps and landmine-like vegetables which explode when a hapless zombie gets too close. However, none of these units can be planted unless you have enough sunlight, which drifts down from the top of the screen and must be tapped in order to add it to your kitty. You can create sunflowers to gain access to additional sunlight.
Although Plants vs Zombies operates within the confines of the tried-and-tested “Tower Defence” genre it manages to strip away much of the repetitive clutter that bogs down so many of these games and instead replaces it with innovative bonus levels, a rapid-fire succession of new plants and a typically deranged collection of enemy units. There’s even a zombie Michael Jackson impersonator in the mix which really has to be seen to be believed.
Supported by an intuitive “drag and drop” interface, Plants vs Zombies succeeds in being both intensely tactical and enjoyably chaotic at the same time, but the on-screen ebullience does come at a price – when the action reaches boiling point it has a habit of slowing the game down to a crawl, even on the iPhone 3GS.
While this niggle can sour your experience on some of the more demanding levels – where split-second timing and accurate planting are a must – it can’t detract from the excellent work achieved elsewhere. Plants vs Zombies is yet another must-have App Store download and proves once and for all that “casual” is no longer a dirty word.
Plants vs Zombies for iPhone is available on the App Store now.