Review: Plants vs. Zombies (PSV)

Title: Plants vs. Zombies
Format: PlayStation Network Download (70 MB)
Release Date: February 20, 2012
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: PopCap Games
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Plants vs. Zombies is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo DS, Android and iOS devices.
The PlayStation Vita version was used for this review.

Plants vs. Zombies has been a fixture on almost every possible device since its debut on PC and Mac in 2009, so it came as no surprise that PopCap Games would bring their tower-defense title to the PlayStation Vita. Fans of the game had a reason to be happy, but is this PlayStation Network download worthy of a spot on your Vita, especially if you already have it for your PS3?

The central conceit of Plants vs. Zombies is where the fun lies: the zombies are coming, and your only defense is in cultivating your yard with adorably-named, zombie-killing plants to defend your property. From the basic Peashooter and Cherry Bomb to the Melon-pult and Cob Cannon, your arsenal of protective shrubbery expands as the levels grow more complicated and the enemies more plentiful.

The primary campaign has you defending your homestead in your front yard, back yard (complete with swimming pool), and rooftop, both day and night, with ten stages per area and time of day. In order to place plants on your lawn, you have to collect ‘suns,’ gathered during the day as they randomly fall from the sky, or from special plants that produce them regularly. The better the plant, the more sunlight you’ll have to expend to place it on your lawn.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because the game is largely unchanged from the PlayStation 3 version. The campaign, mini-games, survival modes, and puzzle challenges are all carried over; the only omission being the Co-Op and Vs. online multiplayer modes. With the Vita’s Wi-Fi and ad-hoc capabilities, it is a bit sad to see these two modes removed, but the amount of content within the game’s single player modes make their loss none too noticeable. The PS3 iteration was limited by its reliance on the DualShock’s analog sticks or D-pad, making quick pick-ups of suns and coins while simultaneously protecting your house somewhat difficult. With the multitouch 5” OLED screen of the Vita, and the ability to use the device’s Sixaxis motion sensors to collect suns, planting your Cabbage-pults and Tall-nuts has never been easier.

Raving about the look of something like Uncharted or Rayman is easy, their console counterparts set the bar for visuals on the PS3. But rest assured, Plants vs. Zombies is right there with the best looking titles on your Vita. The Vita’s smaller screen actually enhances the visual quality of the title, allowing for each hand-drawn zombie to shamble from one side of the OLED screen to the other with excellent clarity. The colors pop on every level, from saturated sun-drenched rooftops to gloomy fog-shrouded pools, and each plant and zombie are just as you’d hope they’d look. The only problems I had with the visuals occurred when the screen was overflowing with plant-on-zombie action, causing slow down as more and more action commenced, making it sometimes difficult to place your plants where and when you needed to.

The audio track to Plants vs. Zombies is addictive. You’re lying to yourself if you’ve never found yourself humming the background music to these levels well after you’ve put the game down. Besides the fun and quirky soundtrack, the sound design of this game is superb. Whether it is peas and corn kernels smacking into the heads of the oncoming scourge, a zombie riding a dolphin or using a pogo stick to jump over obstacles, or a jalapeno scorching a row of the undead, each specific sound is unique and distinctive (including the crunch-crunch-crunch of mushy brains if you’re unlucky enough to let one of those zombies past your defenses).

While Co-Op and Versus multiplayer modes are available on other platforms, as mentioned above the PlayStation Vita edition of this game is single player only.

Plants vs. Zombies is one of the best downloadable games on the market, on any platform. PopCap has brought nearly every bell and whistle over from its’ prior releases to make this Vita launch title something special, even for those who have played it before. Toss in the fact that the Vita version comes with a full suite of Trophies, including a Platinum trophy (something that the PS3 version of the game did not include), and you have just a couple more reasons to carry this title around on the go. Definitely a worthy inclusion in the Vita’s launch lineup for any fan of the device, Plants vs. Zombies is a must-have for Vita owners… all five of us.


Written by Brien Bell

Brien’s love of PlayStation knows few bounds. He even worked for them (indirectly!) for a few months! Follow his ramblings on PlayStation, Star Wars, and all things sunny California here, on Twitter, and on PSN.

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