Plants vs. Zombies iPhone Review

Damn you, PopCap. We were just getting the hang of going about our day-to-day lives without diverting to an hour-long session of Peggle on our iPhones, and you go ahead and release Plants Vs. Zombies. Now we're hopelessly addicted, spending hours strategically placing plants in the right spots while battling the undead.

The game follows a traditional tower defense set-up, but on a much more user-friendly level. Waves of zombies make their way across your front yard. Some are simple, bloodthirsty types, while others wear things on their heads, such as road cones, or follow a particular gimmick, such as riding a dolphin. (Don't bother asking where a zombie found a dolphin.) As the heroic, unseen gardener, it's your job to place specific plant life in each of the game's rows, stopping the zombies dead in their tracks before they can reach your porch.

As the game goes through each stage, new plant types and zombies appear, further challenging you to figure things out and locate the right plant for the job. Although the game takes a very different route from previous PopCap puzzle games, it's just as addictive. Planning your attack and watching zombies succumb to it is a sheer delight, and if for some reason you screw up on a particular stage, you can try again, either in the main game or Quick Play.

Furthermore, the touch-screen controls work perfectly. Selecting and placing your plants is a cinch, as you simply tap what you want and where you want it. From there, they do the work, spitting seeds and fending off hordes of the undead. The game's difficulty scale picks up, never growing impossible, but refusing to cut you a break. Very seldomly do you find games as balanced as Plants Vs. Zombies.

A word of warning, though: this is not the same game as the PC edition. Several of its modes were cut from this release, including Survival Mode and the fun mini-games. However, considering that it costs $3 (from $15), it's a hell of a deal.

Better still, Plants Vs. Zombies still has a cool presentation. The humorous animations are fun to watch, and the multiple zombie types stay in the funny zone. There are moments when slowdown enters the picture (particularly with the triple pea shooters), but it's nothing the game can't handle. On top of that, the camera is perfectly formatted for the iPhone, as you can see all your rows clearly, so no zombies will sneak up on you unexpectedly. We also got a kick out of the music, featuring plenty of spooky riffs and hilarious zombie groans. Make sure you've got headphones on to get the best results.

Our main complaint with Plants Vs. Zombies is that it's too damn good. In the multiple times that we played, our iPhone batteries were sapped dry. The game is that addictive, so make sure you have an AC plug or a spare battery. Not to mention some hours to kill, because they will be gone before you know it.

That's a good thing, though. Plants Vs. Zombies is another must-have game for the iPhone/iPod Touch, especially at the more-than-acceptable asking price of three bucks. It's a limited time offer, so don't miss out. This is a battle for the ages.

What's Hot: Undeniably addictive, humorous visuals and audio, reasonably cheap for only three dollars.

What's Not: Your battery (and social life) will flat line, a few of the PC version's modes are absent, occasional slowdown.

4/5