Plants vs. Zombies HD

Developer:  PopCap
Download:  Get on iTunes
Official link:  Plants vs. Zombies
Price:  $0.99

It’s no surprise that Plants vs. Zombies became an instant classic that spawned all kinds of similar lane defense games. PopCap is great at making simple, charming games with lots of depth and replay value. If you’ve never played this game before, you should stop reading this review right now and go download it. Seriously, for less than a buck, you get one of the most popular and most fun games for iPad of all time.

Other than your garden, not much stands between you and a massive horde of zombies. If that has you worried, it shouldn’t. You have quite the arsenal at your disposal: pellet-shooting peas, exploding potatoes, catapulting cabbages, and much more. If that makes you smile, it should. This is a game full of humor and silliness. Even the zombies you’re up against are goofy and lighthearted. Unlike the ones from the Walking Dead, these little guys have their heads stuck in construction cones and are reading newspapers upside down. You’ll almost feel bad watching your vegetables bring about their second death. Almost.

Everything in this game is done by tapping. First you choose an available seed packet, and then you select a location in your garden which is laid out as a grid. The plant that matches its seed pops up in that spot and immediately begins doing its job. No other action is required from you other than to watch the delightful animations, enjoy the lovely artwork, and bounce along to the catchy music.

But don’t become too complacent because more zombies are coming, and you need more plants! In order to plant seeds, you must first collect pieces of sun. You get these by tapping either the ones that fall from the sky or the ones that are produced by your sunflower plants. Thus, even though your plants are doing all the fighting, you’re almost always active. Either you’re planting more troops or collecting the resources needed to do so. Plus, you’ve always got your eye on the edge of your yard to spot more approaching zombies.

And there are a whole lot of different zombies! Fortunately, they’re not very bright and will only stay in their designated lane. They slowly march towards your house, stopping only to eat and consume any plants in their way. However, some of these zombies have special abilities that make the game more exciting. For example, there are pole-vaulting zombies who will launch themselves over the first plant they encounter. If you’re not careful in your setup, these guys can quickly bypass your main defenses and start causing all kinds of havoc.

It’s a good thing then that you have a lot of different plants! Many of these plants also have their own special trait. For example, in addition to the regular peashooter, there’s a version that shoots frozen peas which slow the zombies down upon contact. Another version shoots multiple peas at a time. There’s even a carnivorous plant that swallows zombies whole!

And this is what makes the game so much fun: there’s always something new around the corner. It’s a joy to see which creative zombie will appear in the next stage. It’s exciting to gain a new type of plant after a successful victory. Almost every level adds a small twist to the gameplay that helps keep things fresh. Even your garden itself will change for various stages: tombstones will appear that prevent the placement of your plants, pools of water will present a new path for zombies, and some battles take place at night where less sun is produced.

Plants vs. Zombies is a pretty easy game, but it’s not without strategy. You’ll have to manage your resources well and decide when is the right moment to take risks. The best plants do more damage, but they also require a lot more resources. You’ll have to find the right balance of crops that produce sun, that provide cheap defense, and that pack a powerful punch. Furthermore, each seed packet has a delay before it can be used to place another plant. Thus, you’ll need to be careful in your timing as well. And you’d better be prepared for the end of each stage where a huge wave of zombies comes at you all at once!

While all of this is going on, you’ll also have the opportunity to collect coins that are dropped by zombies. Coins are used to purchase various upgrades from Crazy Dan, your strange and hilarious neighbor. You can also use coins to unlock different mini-games and other ways to play such as the “I, Zombie” mode where you take charge of the zombies against the plants or the “Survival” mode where you fight continuous waves of zombies.

Plants vs. Zombies is just one of those rare games where you’re always engaged and with a smile. It’s easy, but captivating. It’s simple, yet still requires some thought. It’s as much fun to watch as it is to play. You get a lot of content and a lot of fun for almost no cost. If you missed out on this classic before, do yourself a favor and download one of the best iPad games ever.

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