25 October 2009

Digital Crack: Plants Versus Zombies.

Mere minutes become hours. Hours become days. This is one of the hallmarks of digital crack. Plants Versus Zombies lays claim to one such hallmark. In fact, I don't know what I'm doing sitting here writing about it when I could be playing "just one more level" right now instead.

Plants Versus Zombies is Home Alone: The Videogame.

No, not those God-awful platformers.

It possesses the same spirit of the film: "this is my house, I have to protect it." Except you are a more pro-active Kevin. The objective this time is to prevent the felons from even getting across your front lawn*. And this time the felons are zombies. And instead of putting Micro Machines on the floor you have carnivorous, combat-ready plants.

* I guess from that perspective, it's also Gran Torino: The Videogame. "Get off my lawn!"

The suburban household setting lends Plants Versus Zombies an immediacy and intimacy that other 'tower defense' games lack - you really feel like you are protecting your own family from this undead threat. Still, it eschews realism in favour of cartoon hilarity, which is what you need when Suspension of Disbelief is dialed to eleven. The endearing craziness of your opponents is reminiscent of the 'Earthlings' in Toejam & Earl: old man zombies become angered when you destroy their morning paper, pole-vaulter zombies leap over your front-lines, line-backer zombies charge for your end zone. Some just walk around with traffic cones on their heads.

Soon the fight is taken to the backyard, and you must use the family pool to your advantage.

Plants and zombies would seem like an odd pairing initially, but after extensive play, it soon becomes apparent that these two entities are flip-sides of the same coin. It's a simple twist on the age-old conflict between Man and Nature; this time, both sides are vegetative.

Life imitates Art: a real-life, flesh-eating** Pitcher Plant. [** Flies only.]

Anyway, I'd better get back to it...productive work, that is...yesss...

If I've piqued your interest at all, the game is on special for $6.99 US (AU $7.70) over at PCGameStore, presumably due to Halloween.

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