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Plants vs. Zombies Review (PS Vita)

Plants vs. Zombies Vita Screenshots
Plants vs. Zombies Vita Screenshots
Juan Martinez

Plants Vs. Zombies Vita

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Plants Vs. Zombies is a tower defense game where you build up your army of plants through resource management and strategic planning as you try prevent a horde of zombies from barging through your backyard and eating your brains. No, really; that's probably how the pitch of the game must have sounded like. A few years and millions of sales later, the game is still going strong with an excellent port to the Playstation Vita, adding yet another strong title to the system's launch lineup. Take that, Nathan Drake...

Plants vs. Zombies Review (PS Vita)
Juan Martinez

(Click here for images of Plants Vs. Zombies for the PS Vita)

For those who have managed to avoid PvZ in all of this time, I don't know what to say other than you must hate fun and/or The Walking Dead tv show. The game gives you the freedom to mess around with a grid that doubles as your backyard (later roof) where you can strategize how you're going to beat the zombies. PvZ's currency are the sunflowers that produce energy so you can bring down plants of destruction to combat the zombies, who also come in different flavors.

You start out initially with just pea shooters and potato mines (yup, "spudow" is the sound it makes when a zombie steps on it), but completing a level rewards you with a brand new ability which you can then choose to use or not the next go around. The methodical build comes to a head around the second or third set of levels when the playing field changes dramatically and you're forced to make tough decisions. Should you use up a slot (you're limited to only six slots initially, but that gradually grows as you earn coins) to get rid of the tombstones that become a hassle during the final wave or should you take your chances with a well-timed cherry bomb and use the fan to blow away the fog that takes up nearly a fourth of the grid? Then there's the zombie dolphins. Seriously, zombie dolphins.

While the core game remains intact from previous versions, plenty of the side distractions can be found on this package. This version of PvZ comes with the Zombatar that allows you make your very own zombie Don King (sorry, I couldn't resist) or whatever wacky celebrity you can think of. The mini-games change up the rules by using the plants you just recently acquired to take out the zombies in unique ways. One moment you can be bowling and bouncing wall-nuts off zombies and in the next you're taking them out with PvZ's version of a Contra spread gun. There are also puzzle and survival modes that sound as mind-numbingly and excruciatingly fun as their name implies. Sorry, I was never that good at either mode...

For a game that has seen multiple iterations and screen sizes of pratcially every shape, the Vita's OLED display helps give PvZ a liveliness we have not seen before. The vibrant colors actually help with the gameplay, allowing you to really discern between the plants and the zombies when it gets crowded in a particular section of the screen. The game also moves at a smoother frame rate than any of its predecessors, so the football and miner zombies look even more scray as it barrels towards you. A weird caveat though is that the area dedicated to your plants is a tad small for my taste, which can at times accidentally make you pick the wrong plant.

The Vita's tilt controls are used rather brilliantly as a way to automatically pick up any coins or sunflower energy that happens to drop; just slightly tilt the Vita and you never have to worry about wasting time trying to point at the screen when you could worrying about other things. You can also choose to use the traditional d-pad controls, but that's just asking to make things harder on yourself for no good reason.

Nearly three later and Plants Vs. Zombies has yet wear out its welcome. Something this ubiquitous should have already creeped into that Angry Birds level of where you know its still a good game but you resent its success because it got "too big." And yet the charm of seeing adorable plants blast zombies to oblivion has not gotten the slightest bit old. Maybe it has to do with the game's inability to take itself seriously that still makes me smile every time I see the game. Or it could be the singing sunflower; either way works for me, really...

While $14.99 might be a stretch if you already own the game in one of eleventy other platforms and phones and tablets, it is an absolute must-own if this is your first time jumping into the fray. If anything, it will prepare you to haggle with Crazy Dave when the day of zombie reckoning eventually comes.

This review is based on code sent to us by the publisher.

Follow me on Twitter and be sure to listen our gaming podcast To Live and Game in L.A. with fellow Examiner Ash Paulsen.

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