If you’re predisposed to hate Facebook games: high-five. I am totally with you on that. They tend to be, at best, wretched, and at worst, a plague on all who dwell on this fair planet.
And note that I’m being incredibly cautious in recommending this because I’m fairly certain there must be a catch somewhere that I haven’t quite figured out.
It’s quite possible...
Please, please, please don’t bite me if it turns out PopCap have inserted some kind of instant viral cash eating plague within the game that I’ve yet to reach.
That Plants vs Zombies: Adventures is reasonable. It might even be quite good.
It doesn’t play exactly like the original Plants vs Zombies games. But that’s kind of why it works.
First of all: it’s isometric. Zombies, rather than running down a grid, follow predefined paths that can crisscross and turn along the ground. Plants have to be placed either next to or on a path, so that the zombies can have access to eat them. Each level then becomes a puzzle: how do you arrange your plants so that they cover the maximum area possible whilst putting them at least risk of a munching.
It’s also split into two discrete layers - combat, which are levels that you progress through, and farming, in which you grow crops, earn cash, and tinker with your garden. The way these two layers interact is actually interesting.
PvZ:A introduces the concept of scarcity. In the management layer, you have to grow the plants that you then place in the combat missions; you can’t just drop plants as you see fit. That’s interesting for a simple reason: it encourages efficiency, and therefore, more strategy above overwhelming the zombie waves.
There’s other interesting ideas. The garden management layer requires that you connect buildings up with paths, and then protect those buildings with paths. When they’re connected, you’ll be attacked by waves of zombies, triggered either by the computer, or by your Facebook friends. Your friends can choose the type of zombies and where they attack: meaning you can actively probe your friends gardens in trying to wreck them.
It’s still a Facebook game, so it does a lot of annoying Facebook game stuff: it constantly badgers you to invite friends, and it rewards you for checking in during the day to click on plants to harvest them. I wonder if growing your own plants may create a breaking point in the economy down the line, where you’re forced to wait for new plants to grow before you can beat a level, or cough up cash. And, players who pay definitely see an advantage: they can buy more planters, from which they can grow more crops.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to work out exactly why Plants vs Zombies: Adventures is the worst game ever created, because all Facebook games are.
But all I can think is: I really like playing Plants vs Zombies, and this is a new Plants vs Zombies game.