Plants Vs. Zombies IPhone Micro-Review: The Touching Of The Dead

PopCap Games' unlikely match up between the walking dead and the powerful flora that keeps your brains and well-kept lawn intact is more than just an attention-grabbing title. Plants Vs. Zombies is simply an excellent "tower defense" game.

And now it's on the iPhone. Trading towers and cannons for stalks and stems, Plants Vs. Zombies gives the player a substantial arsenal of deadly plants, funghi, seeds and roots to sow upon their yards, protecting the inhabitants of a residential home from a similarly wide variety of shuffling, brains hungry zombies. It does so with familiar tower defence mechanics and barely-there resource management; and it does it with highly polished charm.

Despite one major shortcoming, Plants Vs. Zombies transition to the iPhone is simply outstanding.


The Best Porch defence $US2.99 Can Buy: Plants Vs. Zombies offers an incredible amount of value for its price, with an extended Adventure mode, quick play and a selection of challenging Achievements that will make some levels worth revisiting. PvZ packs in an incredible number of units on both sides of the undead-vegetation war, layering that with gorgeous animation, catchy tunes and a damn fine sense of humor. If you're going to buy one tower defence genre game for your iPhone or iPod Touch, zombies included or not, this is the biggest bang for your buck.

Tutorials Disguised As Mini-games: When many of the game's levels throw a new zombie type (there are 26 total), a new plant type (49 of 'em) or some a new twist on the playfield (some levels occur at night, some feature a backyard pool, some are drenched in fog), the game's infrequent mini-game modes that shun resource management and feed randomized plants help players experiment with new units, new gameplay tactics and they help switch up the action. There are still a handful of units I felt reliant upon, like the sun-emitting Sunflowers and floating Lily Pads for pool levels, but it was during these mini-games that I understood the value of the defensive Tall-nuts and scorching Jalapenos.


Too Many Peas For 3G: The iPhone port of Plants Vs. Zombies features some horrendous slowdown. That's particularly troublesome when you unlock the triple shot Shooter plant and the zombie hordes start to get thick. On my 3G iPhone, the game reaches near unplayable status, even though the touchscreen controls perform admirably under pressure. I can't speak to its performance on a later model iPhone or iPod Touch, but the game becomes an ugly slideshow near the end of many rounds. The initial load time also kind of sucks.

Despite it's technical issues, purely framerate related, as the game is easy to control and registers touchscreen taps perfectly, Plants Vs. Zombies should really be installed on every iPhone and iPod Touch. The game's style of tower defence, which may appear to be simple at first but shows its complexity soon enough, is highly addictive. Just like the original, which we also loved, the iPhone port of Plants Vs. Zombies features glorious tower defence gameplay with some of PopCap's most enjoyable presentation to date.

Plants Vs. Zombies was developed and published by PopCap Games for the iPhone on February 15. Retails for $US2.99 USD. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through adventure mode, found some Chinese zombies.

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    Rawr and I was gonna buy this for my 2G.
    With the lag you mention it may be a bad idea.

    I've been playing this on my iPod Touch and for 90% of the level, the framerate is smooth. It isn't until the final wave of each level that the framerate really drops. However, the slowdon only affects the framerate, which means the input controls are just as responsive as under normal circumstances. I hope they fix the framerate issue up in a patch, but ultimately it is entirely playable when the system is under heavy stress, it just looks choppy.

    iphone 3Gs here, still laggy with me
    so might be a game code issue, and its only the final wave so still playable

    No issues at all here with my 3GS.

    i got it on 3gs, some slowdown present but far from gamekilling. probably not as bad as on the 3g

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