A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents needs to know that this PC game contains a fair amount of mild fantasy violence. But that is done is a silly, campy manner because the game is about defending your home from zombies by planting plants to stop them. All the plants can shoot at the zombies, but they do it on their own once you plant them. You do not aim and shoot the undead, you are the strategist. The zombies either fall down or occasionally lose a limb.
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What's it about?
PopCap is known for intriguing casual games like Bejeweled and Peggle. With PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES, a humorous riff on tower defense strategy games, you have to save your house from zombies who want to invade your happy home and – cue the B-movie organ music -- chew up your brains. And you do it by planting plants at stategic places in your backyard.
This PC game falls into the category of being simple to learn, but challenging to master. Once the adventure portion of the game begins, you see a suburban house and a yard, the latter of which is your battleground. You click on a plant in the upper left portion of your computer screen which will give you sunlight or which will attack the slow but steady onslaught of zombies. Then, you place a plant by clicking on a portion of your yard. Clicking on sunlight dropping in your yard provides you with points with which to buy new plants. The strategy comes in when you must choose from a variety of plants which do different kinds of damage to different kinds of zombies.
Is it any good?
This tower defense game feels quite new because of the humor injected by the developers, like the undead soul who dons Michael Jackson's "Thriller" outfit. With nearly 50 unlockable plants with which to war against nearly two dozen kinds of zombies, you'll be testing out ways to blow up, freeze, or burn zombies like Buckethead, who's very tough to kill or Screen Door, who is best annihilated by a Fume Shroom whose spores pass through the screen shield to gas the lunking monster. When all else fails, a cherry bomb plant will blow up and burn nearby zombies to a crisp. (You don't see them burn, though, due to the bomb's cloud.)
When hordes of zombies head at you at one time, it's a complete rush. You hurry to place your plants and collect your sunlight as if nothing else matters. As you progress in the game, you unlock mini games and a survival mode. It really gets tough when a creeping fog is introduced. While Plants vs. Zombies is a terrific experience, it's not as tough as, say, Sony's PixelJunk Monsters, which, with each level, features a different layout and approach paths for the creeps who deign to destroy your kingdom. Yet it's just as cute and charming and almost as hard to beat.