Not your ordinary zombie game

Plants vs. Zombies is a fun, funny, and remarkably well-designed game that should prove addictive for newcomers to tower-defense games, as well as challenging and satisfying to serious fans of this real-time-strategy subgenre.

Plants vs. Zombies is a fun, funny, and remarkably well-designed game that should prove addictive for newcomers to tower-defense games, as well as challenging and satisfying to serious fans of this real-time-strategy subgenre. The interface and gameplay start out simply: you must plant seeds, collect sunlight, and tend a gridded garden that is your only defense against ravenous waves of the cartoonish undead. Zombies advance right to left in rows, and you have to decide which kind of plants to use and where to put them, whether you choose sunflowers to accelerate sunlight production or a variety of other plants to shoot, chomp, freeze, block, or otherwise frustrate the zombies.

From here, the game gets crazy-good (not to mention addictively rewarding), by endlessly tweaking this basic recipe on almost every single level, over time adding 49 kinds of plants, 26 kinds of zombies (from basic brain-eaters on up to pole-vaulters and Michael Jackson lookalikes), different rules for day and night, and a play grid that eventually includes a swimming pool and then even moves to your home's slanted roof--and that's just the 50-level Adventure mode. Plants vs. Zombies also includes Survival and Puzzle modes, 20 surprisingly good minigames (which let you do everything from fight invisible zombies to switch places and take on the plants), and a relaxing (but still useful in game terms) "Zen Garden."

Overall, this is an excellent game at a good price, with many interesting qualities and few flaws. Plants vs. Zombies is a must-buy for fans of tower-defense games, and even casual Mac gamers should check out the 60-minute demo.

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