Friday, May 29, 2009


Zombie Uprising - Vegetarian Style

The latest game-heroin hybrid from Popcap Games is Plants Vs Zombies, a modification of the "tower defense" style game.

Zombies are attacking your house, and you use plants with different powers to defend your lawn and prevent them from entering your house. You buy these plants with Sunshine, the most important resource in the game, which comes from certain plants which generate income, and falls randomly during daytime levels. There are many different variations and mini--games to choose from, and the replayability is high.

 You can get the demo, try it out for yourselves. Like a lot of puzzle-strategy hybrids, you can determine within minutes whether you like it or not, and at $9.99 on Steam, it is a super value.

Here's a picture to illustrate a few tips I picked up. This mostly applies to the endgame, and the harder survival-mode levels. This pic was taken at the end of the first Pool Survival level.
(Ranks go left-right, columns up/down.)

 Notice the blue shaded Garlic Bulbs. The line shows the path zombies take after taking a single bite. They move to the next rank randomly, so Garlic at the lowest and highest ranks forces them to move to the only available space. The second bulb exists as a back-up - Garlics last a long time, because each Z only takes one bite, but they do not last forever. Also, pole-vaulting Z's will jump the first and bite the second. The first two spaces of ranks 2 and 5 have powered-up spike mats, which strike at every Z in their space while they cross, therefore every Z that enters at rank 1, 2, 5, and 6 takes decent damage, almost enough to kill unarmored Z's before they ever reach the second column, or even the edge of the screen. This funnels the enemy to the yellow-shaded area - The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death.

Behold the Star Plant. One of the cheapest offensive plants, it has a very high rate of fire. It has two drawbacks: low health, and it does not shoot directly forward, requiring a little bit of forethought to use. Notice the gray lines, which indicate the paths of fire. A handful of these babies absolutely rain a wicked crossfire into the target zone - a zone full of zombies because of their repulsion to garlic.

In the purple-shaded area, I have Cat-tails, which are upgraded Lily Pads. These are the most flexible offense, firing spikes at a high rate of fire, which hit Zacks at every altitude, including the airborne Bungee and Balloon Zacks. Their rate of fire is nearly as good as the Quadruple Pea Shooters, which cost twice as much. More importantly, the spikes target every zombie on the screen, with the Cat-tails aiming at the Z closest to them. These eight formed the core of my offense - absolutely everything in the lead of any wave starts taking a steady stream of damage the moment it steps on screen.

The Double Sunflowers keep my economy space-efficient, and the Frozen Melon-pults have a splash attack that does decent damage, and slows every Z in every adjacent square to the target, forcing the enemy to spend extra time in the kill zone. In fact, the freezing weapons are the only viable way to keep the tough Football Jock and Ogre Zacks from making openings in your lines.

Kudos to this game - deep strategy options at a bargain.

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