Critical Play: Is this game balanced?

Inspired by Tuesday’s video, I played Plants vs. Zombies for this critical play. Developed by Pop Cap games in 2009, Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense game. During the zombie apocalypse, a homeowner must use weaponized plants to defend his house from the zombies. The game was a huge part of my childhood and it was so fun to revisit game and consider it through the lens of game balance.

Having watched Tuesday’s video, I gained so much appreciation for how well made this game is. The game was really well balanced. The challenge level always felt appropriate. The only issue was that, having played the game a lot as a child, it was frustrating to have to start from the beginning of the game because I had already developed a good strategy. The beginning levels felt too easy because I already knew the skills they were trying to teach. However, I remember as a child finding these beginning levels really helpful to figuring out a good strategy for the game. From a beginner perspective the game is really well-paced. I just wish there was a way to play the game from the beginning having already played it before. 

The game also did a good job accommodating different types of players. As a very advanced players, I was still able to have fun in the early levels. However, for a less advanced player, the game did a good job of flagging new abilities and teaching them in a way that was still engaging. They minimized the amount of text used on screen and focused on active learning.

I also felt like the game did a good job creating balance in the upper levels when you have gained many seed packs and need to decide which seven seed packs to bring with you. There are tradeoffs to all the seeds and the game make this choice challenging by creating a well-balanced set of seed packs. Also, you learn which seed packs work best for what type of zombies. 

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