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06 July 2011

Plants vs. Zombies [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 8/10
Um. Well, there's not much of a plot to be had. Zombies are invading your house. You plant various types of plants throughout your yard to stop them. If you succeed, you move on to the next increasingly difficult level. That's all. No need to slow down a pretty simple concept with too much story. Some concepts just work better with little to no explanation or back story, requiring the player to just suspend their disbelief and just go with it. This is one of those games.
I'll give the "plot" an 8 out of 10. I know it sounds silly to essentially rate a LACK of a plot so high, but I'm giving it a high rating because I think the game would have suffered if the developers insisted on adding an actual story to everything.

Game Play: 8/10
The game play, here, is like a dumbed-down version of those real-time strategy games where you have to position your troops in the right places in order to stop the enemies' advance. The zombies approach your house, and you place plants in their path to stop them. Different plants do different things, but all can act in your defense.
Also, this game is a great time-waster. If you've got time to kill, each level can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. The game then autosaves when you finish a level, and gives you the option of returning to the main menu instead of proceeding to the next. When starting up the game, it will auto-load your save file and let you start at your next uncompleted level. So, you can easily power on, play a quick level or two, then quit out of the game and power off.
As you play through the game, you can also unlock various minigames and extras, once you hit certain milestone numbers of levels beaten, adding to the game's replay value.
The game play gets an 8 out of 10. It is a very simple concept. The difficulty comes from trying to fend off increasingly high numbers of increasingly strong zombies at once.

Graphics: 8/10
PvZ's graphics are very cartoon-like in appearance, which is fitting for the rather silly game concept. It's not supposed to be scary, and the developers aren't shooting for any awards for beautifully rendered cutscenes. They're just trying to make an entertaining game.
Plants vs. Zombies' graphics get an 8 out of 10. Stylistically, they match the silliness of the overall concept. They're easy to read. You can tell what you're looking at, at any given moment.

Audio: 6/10
There isn't much voice acting, in PvZ, beyond the occasional typical zombie moaning and groaning, which is all perfectly adequate. The music is also best described as adequate. It does the job, being light-hearted when the game calls for it, and being slightly ominous sounding for some of the more intense levels. Nothing jumped out at me as being particularly good or bad.
I'll give the audio a 6 out of 10. The music isn't bad. The developers took such a deliberately relatively minimal approach to so many aspects of the game, I just think it could have benefitted from slightly better music.

Overall Score: 7.5/10
This game is a whole lot of fun. I can't rightly say that not much went into the production, but the developers clearly knew what did, and what didn't, need to be done in order to make a better-than-average game. They kept the gameplay simple, the concept light-hearted, the graphics silly to match, and they didn't go overboard on the writing of the music. I actually feel a little bad that the audio score brought down the overall score.

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