Plants vs. Zombies • Page 2

Biological warfare. 

Happily, PopCap hasn't felt the need to remove the zombie Michael Jackson from this new iPhone version now the actual Michael Jackson is dead. In fact, PopCap has removed little in the transition from PC to iPhone and iPod Touch. Survival, Puzzle, Zen Garden and Mini-Game modes have been dropped but you still get Adventure and Quick Play, and there are still 50 levels

There's an almanac with a guide to all the plants and zombies you encounter. There's a shop where you can buy special items, like a garden rake which takes out enemies when stepped on. There's a long list of achievements to earn (PopCap fans should scroll right down for a couple of great in-jokes).

Most importantly, nothing has been lost in translation when it comes to gameplay. Like the PC game, Plants vs. Zombies on iPhone features a finely-tuned difficulty curve and a smart reward system. The balance between resource collection and weapon management is just right. The game is instantly accessible and introduces new concepts gradually, encouraging you to develop new strategies and evolve ideas. And like the PC game, the iPhone version is more addictive than Pringles dipped in heroin.

It's also just as polished. All the environments are the same as in the PC game and they look great. The level of detail is stunning, from the individual hairs on zombies' heads to the sunlight twinkling on the pool in the back yard. The sound is superb too, with funky eighties-style tunes punctuated by zombie groans for "Braaiiiins".

In fact, the iPhone version looks and sounds just like the PC one 95 per cent of the time. The game struggles, however, when there are large numbers of enemies and projectiles on the screen. With a dozen three-headed peashooters and a huge wave of zombies going full pelt, the frame rate often stutters. But this is a rare rather than regular occurrence, and when it does happen, the stuttering isn't significant enough to render the game unplayable.

2
Not to be confused with Robert Plant vs. Zombies, which would be amazing.

That's really the only negative point to be made about the iPhone port. Scrabbling around for other criticisms, you could complain its similarity to the PC version means it's all a bit familiar if you played the previous game. You don't get the same pleasure from trying out a brand new plant or discovering a new strategy. Those players of the PC game who complained it was too easy are likely to find the iPhone version even less challenging as any lessons have already been learned.

However, that's not a fair criticism. Plenty of iPhone owners won't have played the PC game anyway. As someone who did, I enjoyed playing through it again on a handheld. Yes, it was easier and true, there were no surprises, but that doesn't change the brilliant balance or the addictive nature of the gameplay.

Plus in one way, I enjoyed it more. The touch screen controls work perhaps even better than the mouse - there's something deeply satisfying and intuitive about plonking plants down with your finger. The playing area is large enough that the iPhone never struggled to register exactly where I was pointing, so there were no problems with precision.

So, occasional frame rate issues aside, there's nothing bad to say about Plants vs. Zombies for iPhone. The gameplay is just as well-balanced and finely tuned as it is in the PC version. The presentation is up to the same high standards, while the control system is perhaps even improved. Like so many PopCap titles, PvZ is slick, pretty, charming and funny. If the games industry was one big party, I'd get off with it.

9 /10

Plants vs. Zombies is out now and costs £1.79 on the App Store.

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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