Mar 19, 2012

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Plants vs Zombies (Vita) Review

Plants vs Zombies (Vita) Review

Originally released on PC, PopCap’s Plants vs Zombies has since sprung up on nearly every platform imaginable, so it’s no surprise that you can defend your lawn on your Vita, utilizing the touch screen controls. If you’ve played the iOS or PSN versions of the game especially, you’ll feel very at home in the Vita version, which doesn’t bring much new to the table. Still, at $15, is it worth picking up for your cartoon zombie fix, or are you better off spending your money elsewhere?

Even if you’ve only played the PC-based version of the game, the Vita installation will be immediately familiar. You have the basic adventure mode, in which you must defend your lawn and roof against zombies in both day and night, various mini games, several puzzle-based levels, several survival modes (including endless), and a Zen Garden. In addition, you’ll also find leaderboards (with your “house” as in the XBLA and PSN versions of the game, that you can customize), and trophies. And if this will sell you on the game alone, yes, it has a platinum.

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That said, if you’ve already played the console versions, you might want to give PvZ a pass. As far as I could tell, the game doesn’t bring anything new to the table. However, if you’re a big fan of the game and have only played the PC version, you might appreciate the additional achievements. If you’ve only played the mobile version, you’ll get to enjoy the additional game modes that really increase the longevity of the game dramatically.

All this said, I really enjoyed the game, even though I’ve already played it on PC and iPad several times; what I particularly liked was earning the trophies, some of which do what achievements were intended to do, and change the way you play the game. Diehard PvZ players do start to fall into the “same” strategy for every level, so it was refreshing for me to have to change things up in order to earn different trophies, some of which are pretty challenging.

As far as how the game plays on the Vita itself, it’s good and bad. I still think the game plays best on PC, its original platform, but I definitely think the touch interface works much better than the controller does. The Vita version exclusively uses the front touch screen, although you can set the option to tilt the device to quickly collect coins and sun, which was kind of nice. I do think it’s a little disappointing that the back touch screen wasn’t used at all; even if it had been for additional minigames, or some kind of optional feature, it might have been nice to make this game feel more like a true Vita title instead of a combined port of the console and mobile versions. Still, the touch system works well in general; I did find a few times where it would incorrectly register my input and cause a plant to be placed where I didn’t want it to be, but this is a minor complaint. My only other gripe with the Vita version is the fact that I feel as if some of the graphics/interface could have been made a little bigger; some of the fonts seem a little small.

You might be wondering why go with the Vita version when you can get the touch experience cheaper on iOS. The big price jump from tablet/phone to Vita does come with a lot more content. So if you’re looking for an on-the-go PvZ experience, I’d have to recommend the Vita version over the iPhone or iPad equivalent, simply because of the additional content. Even after you’ve completed adventure mode twice, beaten all the minigames and puzzle levels, you still have all the Zen garden plants to collect, your tree to grow, and achievements to complete. And even after you’ve platinumed the game, you can still play the endless mode to try to improve your total zombie kill and rise up the leaderboards. If that’s not compelling enough, the game does look incredible on the Vita’s OLED, with the cartoony graphics becoming very vivid and vibrant, and the colors really popping.

Even though the adventure mode can get a bit stale, I did have a lot of fun with the Vita version of Plants vs Zombies, especially in attempting to get all the trophies (I’m at 70% now and hoping to platinum). It’s not often you see digital-only titles with platinum trophies either, so if you’re an achievement whore, that might be enough to sell you. If you’re a fan of the PC version and looking for something to play on the go, or you’ve never played the game before, the Vita version is definitely worth your money. It would be great if we could see PopCap offer additional levels or minigames as DLC, but as it stands, you will have hours of entertainment with this version.

Plants vs Zombies
Platform: PS Vita
Genre: Tower Defense
Release Date: 02/22/12
Developer: PopCap
Publisher: PopCap
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
MSRP: $14.99


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