Forget Zynga, PopCap are the true kings of casual games! Once known for shamelessly cloning existing titles (but making enough changes to keep their legal team happy) PopCap has managed to shave that reputation and are now a dominant force in the gaming industry. Their games may not be incredibly original but their forté is to take something that is already good and make it a million times better, so much so that the original version instantly becomes redundant. Plants vs Zombies is in keeping with this theme and since its inception on the PC in 2009 it has become the definitive tower defence game on the market.
If you’re a Zombie yourself and have not heard of PvZ, I’ll give you a quick rundown of how the game works. On the left side of the screen is your house, on the right is a mob of incoming Zombies. In-between the two is a lawn which acts as a grid based battlefield for the impending war between the floral defence force and the walking dead. It’s your job to line up specially equipped Plants across the lawn to prevent any Zombie from entering that house of yours. If a single Zombie makes it through your front door they will "Eat Your Brainz” which you kinda need for living and stuff.
Nearing the end of the game you’ll have dozens of Plants to choose from but initially you’ll start off with just a basic Pea-Shooter. During invasions, sunlight falls from the sky in the form of glowing pellets (refereed to as "sun") these can be collected by tapping on them or by tilting the Vita slightly. Points can then be used to place more Plants on your defence lines which increases your chance of success. As daunting as having dozens of Plants may seem, the game actually handles your arsenal extremely well. One additional Plant becomes available after completing most levels and regardless of how vast your Plant collection becomes, you’re only able to select up to six of them for each level.
As you progress, Zombies become smarter and harder to kill. You'll eventually encounter Zombies who defend themselves, become frantic when provoked, are extremely fast, vault over your defences and even some who travel in vehicles or underground.
Now that I've wasted enough time talking about a game which has already been released on every device ever, I'll finally answer the question that most of you want to know... "What makes this Vita version unique?" The answer is; fantastic leaderboard integration and the ability to create your own Zombies. If that sounds great to you or you've somehow managed to avoid the game for 3 years, go ahead and buy! However if you've already had your PvZ fill on the PC, Xbox 360, PS3, DS, DSi, smartphone, tablet, toaster or wherever else Popcap has released it, you might want to hold off.
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PlayStation Vita provided by EA.