Critical Play: Plants vs Zombies

Plants vs Zombies is a tower defense game developed by PopCap and first released in 2009 for PC. From the main menu, the cartoon art style, vibrant colors, and at times silly music score, deliver to the player the message that this is a casual game for gamers of all ages, surrounding quite a non-sensical theme: using plants to defend your property from lawn-creeping zombies. The game stands out from other tower defense games thanks to this premise. Instead of a winding path with strategic chokepoints and advantageous locations, the lawn setting means that the zombies must walk in a straight line to reach you. While simple, this concept means that the intensity of the game is set by the variety of plants and enemies and the synergies created between each.

While the player starts off with a limited selection of plants, after the completion of every level, more enemy types and plants become unlocked. The player is also able to buy special seeds and items from a store. This allows players to develop preferences for certain plants and playstyles while confronting waves of zombies. The zombie types are also a huge part of the personality of the game and another reason to continue playing level after level. Their styles are silly and their special abilities hilarious, everytime I saw a new enemy type I was both a little nervous but very excited to see what kind of surprise skill they had in store and how I could counter it. Overall, Plants vs Zombies is a tower defense game that does not take itself very seriously and shines because of it.

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