PopCap Hits Volume 2 Reviewed

Following on from the success of the first retail launch for Mastertronic’s awesome collection of arcade classic’s comes the second in the series: PopCap Hits Volume 2.    

Building on the foundation’s of some of the finest arcade titles comes the towering architecture of PopCap Hits Volume 2. With some of the industry’s best examples of modern gaming classic’s contained on the second in the series of arcade games we take a look at the Mastertronic masterclass.        

With four more fantastic fun time titles on offer from Mastertronic in the latest in the series of PopCap Hit’s titles we get to bring you, our loyal GmP readers, the reviews of a quartet of quality games that could well be some of the highest rated arcade titles in Xbox Live history. A bold statement considering some of the firm family favourites and hardcore heaven than can be found in Microsoft’s ‘Theatre of Dreams’, and one, that we believe, is easily justified in this review.

First up in this top-notch compendium of collective crackers comes one of our very favourite arcade titles of this, or any other, generation. Gamers and Gamerettes we bring to you none other than the one, the only: Plants Versus Zombies. Bearing in mind that this title has also just been released in its excellent Game of the Year format for all you lucky PC gamers out there, a purchase that should be gracing every discerning gamers library as we speak, and you will see why this title is first up in our PopCap Hits Vol: 2 review. 

Plants Versus Zombies is one of the most critically acclaimed arcade titles on the market, loved by reviewers and the gaming public alike. This is, in our humble opinion, exactly what an arcade title should be, and it has everything in it to keep it at the very top of the charts for many a day to come. Looking extremely slick with some genuinely impressive visual’s, Plants Vs Zombies will so enthrall and mesmerize your mushy grey matter that in no time at all you will forget that you aren’t playing a full retail game, a true sign of  a great arcade title. The gameplay is simplicity in its itself as you control a home base, or ‘fortress’, with hordes of Zombie ‘brain-munchers’ attacking you in wave upon wave. Your only defences are some of the most ingenious looking ‘plant powered’ projectiles known to man. Everything from pea-shooters to ‘wall-nuts’ and cherry bombs have been converted into flora based firearms, and they don’t half kick some zombie maggot butt.

The ides is to prevent the undead army from breaching the walls and doors’ of your last stand defences as the ghoulish ones attempt tom pry your head from your shoulders. No easy thing when these ghastly grave botherer’s just keep on coming in ever greater numbers and ever greater strengths.

Plants Versus Zombies is one of those games that will do extremely well regardless of platform, and this has proven to be true with its Game of the Year Edition on PC going ‘ballistic’ in the sales department, whereas its sister App for the iGeneration has easily broken all records to become the fastest selling application of all time. Join the revolution with this excellent title and help stop the Zombies hordes before they crash through the doors and windows and suck your brains!

Next up comes Zuma. Now Zuma is different ‘kettle of fish’ altogether from Plants Versus Zombies but its genial gameplay and easy on the eye graphic’s make for some of the most compelling play on the entire disc. A puzzle based adventure game, players are required to follow the winding trail of a snake, that is made up of differently coloured orb’s, and using the stone idol ‘frog’ you must shoot the matching colour at the targeted slithering snake in the hope of matching three together and so destroying that section. This burst of colour and sound results in the ‘chain’ being halted temporarily, is it continues its eternal lazy movement towards the pre-programmed exit. Though originally released as far back as 2003, Zuma has lost none of its charm or compulsive nature as it gathers more and more gamers into its web of addictive and highly enjoyable gameplay.

Next up comes the action packed Heavy Weapon, and just as the title conjures up mental images of power-packed armaments and high velocity weaponry. Well, you would be right. In this corking 19 mission side scroller you get to jump behind the controls of the awesome in the excellent single player campaign, or you can choose to leap right into the ‘jaws of death’ and attempt to do battle against the swarming enemies in the cracking ‘Survivalist’ Mode. There is also the option to take the battle online with friends and loved ones as you can also enter into a truly epic online multiplayer mode that should come with a ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ notice attached to the games cover art.

Using your left analogue stick to control movement, whilst the right control’s weapons, you are in command of the simply awesome ‘Atomic Tank’ as you unleash fiery death on land, sea and air in a kind of WMD for the gamer. Sizzling action comes at you thick and fast in the frenetic gameplay that will see you sweating buckets as you struggle to stay one step ahead of the ‘bad guys’.   

Last, but not least, comes Feeding Frenzy 2. A follow-up to the highly successful original this game see’s you adopting the same ‘food Cain’ based shenanigans that you all played, and loved, in the first Feeding Frenzy title, only this time around the game has a definite ‘sharper’ edge to it with new and improved graphics and sound. The gameplay is very familiar if you have played the first game in the popular duo, but is nothing that first timers should feel intimidated by as it is really a very fun title for gamers of all ages. Gobbling up everything that is smaller than you, whilst at the same time avoiding being on the menu for anything larger than yourself, gives this ‘survival of the fittest’ game a far more exciting and enjoyable brand of play than most, and this can easily be demonstrated int he titles continued success in the sales department.

Graphics: Once again Mastertronic has proved that they are the masters of their craft with this corking compendium of classic arcade titles. Everything looks and feels as good as new, even in some of the older games such as Zuma, due to the fact that the developer puts in genuine effort at the games original launch date thus giving their titles that added sense of longevity as they never seem to age or turn stale. Very pleasing visual’s are combined with seamless renders that mean whether you play the games online or offline you get uninterrupted enjoyment of a collection of great games.    8

Gameplay: Arcade gaming at its very best in this awesome foursome that includes everything that a gamer could ever want from a retail based collection of arcade titles. There is match 3 goodness, shooter bliss, manic gameplay and excellent online capabilities that will keep millions entertained for hours at a time. The control’s are easily learned and very adaptable, with nothing being fiddly or needlessly over-complicated. PopCap Hits Vol:2 is gaming heaven. 9

RePlay Value: When you think that Zuma has been around for almost a decade now, and that the other titles on this disc of devilish delights are all equably capable of achieving a similar, if not longer, shelf life, then is it any wonder why we tell you that if ever there was a collection of games that demanded a perfect 10 score for their replayability value then it is PopCap Hits Volume 2.   10

Presentation: All told then Mastertronic have done it again with this their second PopCap Hits title in as many weeks. When purchased in conjunction with the first of these must have volumes these two retail titles will give you a stunning set of eight of the greatest games available online today, and we applaud the decision taken by the developer to release them on disc. This allows players in the same household to enjoy these games without having to take turns on a ‘mutual gamertag’. This means that everyone can play, not just the person who downloaded the titles from Xbox Live. But more than that it also means that you can now have all of that arcade fun time offline for the first time. Great stuff.  10

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