The towering inferno of all tower defence titles has released its long-awaited Game of the Year Edition as the PC version of Plants Versus Zombies takes on all comers for the crown of Best Arcade Game.
Trying to halt a never-ending swarm of flesh eaters as they attempt to engulf you and pull your brain through your gullet may be a tried and tested method of videogaming, but if it ain’t broke-then why fix it? Thankfully Mastertronic have followed this time-honoured mantra, and instead of trying to alter a winning formula, they have just improved on it, and we have to say that we are more than pleased with the end results.
We know the ‘story’ has been done to death a million times before, but frankly my damn we don’t give a dear! ( Or something like that? Ed.) When the gameplay that is on offer is as awesome as what is included in Mastertronic’s Plants Versus Zombies then as far as we are concerned there really isn’t any need to play any of the other titles in the genre when you could save yourself a lot of time, and money, by just opting to go straight for the very best. With Plants Versus Zombies that is exactly what you get, and with the Game of the Year Edition offering up all of the additional content as well as some snazzy extra’s it all rounds up to make Mastertronic’s masterclass of manic mirth and mayhem the best choice by far for all you fan’s of the Tower Defence titles.
The graphic’s are straight out of a comic book with the idea being on the player having some fun, as opposed to scary the wit’s out of the children and the pet dog with howling night crawlers running screaming across your TV screen. So it’s in with the cute and cuddly and out with the crass and blood-curdling, as the developers have made the appeal of the game spread across as wide a catchment area of age groups as possible.
The gameplay is of the standard tower defence format, however it is given a far more universal appeal with the pleasing and inoffensive visual’s that Mastertronic have combined with some of the meatiest morsels ever contained in an arcade title. Take the control system for example: A simpler style could not have been utilised as the developers have made the game just so easy to pick up and play that gamers of all ages will immediately feel at home with the way that Plants Versus Zombies feels. The age-old adage that reviewers like to throw around about how a game can ‘appeal to players of any age, from 5 to 05’ has never felt more apt, nor has it ever been more appropriate than when used to describe the appeal of Mastertronic’s cracking title.
The game set’s it stall out very early doors as you a confronted by a pack of marauding brain-muchers as they seek to smash their way through your last stand defences and feast on your nearest and dearest as you get barbecued over your George Foreman grill by a flesh-eating TV chef. ( ‘luvverly-jubberly’ ). The zombies advance towards your ‘fortress’, otherwise known to every Englishman as his ‘castle’, in row’s of five. Slowly, at first, they will descend upon your terrified flock of family members, with blood-red eyes glaring murderous intent, and it is up to you, the hero patriarch of the hour, to step up to the plate and mete out some ‘parental control’ to the undead hordes!
You get kitted-out with some truly ingenious weaponry as the developers have taken the unusual course of not issuing you with the standard flamethrowers, mini-gun’s and rocket launchers, and instead they have opted for supplying their urban troopers with some of the most inventive ‘fauna firearms’ this reviewer has ever seen. Everything that could have been turned into a zombie-slaying death-bringer, has been. But with such plant life projectile launchers as the excellent ‘pea-shooter’ or the ‘wall-nuts’ you will be knocking over row upon row of demonic dead flesh faster than a tramp on a McDonald’s.
As a bonus you are also awarded with ‘Sun-Points’, the games currency, when you down a line of zombies. The collection of these imperative monetary substitutes means that you will be able to purchase upgrades and weapons, as well as a vast array of items that we do not want to spoil your fun in discovering, that you can take onto the battlefield or into forums when you meet up with other zombie hunters online to discuss your murderous prowess and establish bragging rights by informing the world of just how many levels and chapters you have managed to complete before being turned into worm food yourself.
But in a great move by the developers the way that the Sun Points are made more easily available during daylight hours is a stroke of genius that guarantee’s some frantic gameplay during the wee-hours for your under pressure avatar, and it has to be said that it is these innocuous inclusions that display an attention to detail and eye for innovation that has set Plants Versus Zombies head and shoulders above it rivals in the genre.
But one of the greatest moves in the outstanding Game of the Year Edition of Plants Versus Zombies has to be the fact that PopCap Games and Mastertronic have decided to do away with the scourge of PC gaming, the dreaded DRM. In Plants Versus Zombies there is no DRM inclusion whatsoever and we commend the developers and publishers for taking this bold step to show the rest of the gaming world, and other studio’s too, the way that PC games were meant to be enjoyed by their public. You don’t even need to have the disc in the drive once the game has been installed for Heaven’s sake, and that’s not to mention the fact that you can install this game on as many system’s as you would like too! Nothing short of genius and something that we would like to see more of in the future from every developer! Ground-breaking and forward thinking.
Graphics: Cracking stuff from PopCap Games as they show why they are the force to be reckoned with when it comes to awesome arcade titles. Plants Versus Zombies has gone down the less travelled blood and guts route to stay with attracting as many people as possible into the wonderful world of bright images and flawless renders. Nothing in the way of frame rate drop or glitches to worry about either online or off. Brilliant. 9
Gameplay: Plants Versus Zombies, especially in this the Game of the Year Edition with the added bonus of the extra content as well as the Zombatar’s that lie in wait for you take online to impress your friends, has to be one of the most fun to play and compelling titles we have managed to get our sticky fingers on for quite some time. That ‘One More Try’ factor hits you like a sledgehammer with the end of every session and you can suddenly find yourself looking bleary-eyed and realising it is gone 4:00am and you have to be up for work in less than an hour. Great stuff from PopCap Games and Mastertronic and long may it continue to reign as the office arcade favourite. An immense title that should be on the shelf of every PC gamers collection. 10
RePlay Value: Nothing else quite comes close to the sheer addictive nature of an arcade title, and when you have an arcade title that contains 50 levels of gorgeous adventure gaming with an additional 20 mini-games and the added bonuses of the Survival and Puzzle Modes then what you have there, my dear GmP readers, is quite literally a Game of the Year Edition that, for once, is worthy of the name and description. Amazing gameplay with cracking visual’s that will see you coming back for ‘one more round’ time and time, ( and time! ), again. A truly fantastic game worthy of the high praise. 10
Presentation: PopCap Games and Mastertronic really do have a lead on the arcade title market, and when you consider some of the stunning titles that they have in the line-up of lovelies is it any wonder? Plants Versus Zombies is just continuing this fine tradition, created by the developers and the publishers, of bringing gamers the best value product that they could possibly make, and long may they continue to do so. The fact that they released this title in such a way as to allow as many players as possible to enjoy their game, and on as many different systems as possible, should be reason enough for any gamer worth their salt to respect and support the decision taken by the developers to oust that much maligned DRM from their superb game. This alone is a bold step by the developers, and in allowing PC gamers to play their game as was intended, may just well see more and more people taking in interest in future PopCap and Mastertronic titles. After all, why have cotton when you can have silk? And with PopCap Games and Plants Versus Zombies this is just about as smooth as you could ever hope for. 10