Myself at 3:15 AM Wednesday morning:“Well my Left 4 Dead game ended early guess I can get a quick game of Plants Vs Zombies in.”

Myself at ???? Wednesday morning: ” Once I’m finished with this section I’ll turn the game off for the night.”

Myself at ???? Wednesday morning:“After this minigame I’ll turn it off, what’s with birds chirping outside they don’t do that until around 5am…wait it’s 4:51 in the morning?!

That was a recreation of my first night playing Plants vs Zombies and yes being up normally to hear the birds wake up isn’t good but that’s not important right now. I can imagine somewhere deep within the confines of PopCap is some kind of dark tomb of addictive gameplay which I would like to someday swipe for my own nefarious deeds. Playing Plants Vs Zombies it’s easy to see just what mechanics are pulling me (and others) back for more.

1.Gameplay escalation: PVZ starts out simple, with a few types of plants and zombies of varying degrees of toughness. However with each level pass something new awaits the player, whether it’s a new plant to add to their arsenal or a new zombie to fight. The game’s 5 worlds also build on this system with the first one being straight forward and going from there. The “one more turn” feeling is strong here.

2.Carrots many, many carrots: Besides just expanding on the gameplay a game needs to give the player something to look forward to and PVZ has 4 things that will keep players coming back. First is the reward for new enemies and plant types that happen after each level. Then there are the minigame rewards that unlock halfway through each world. Coins can be picked up during each level to buy items and upgrades from “Crazy Dave” and yes that’s his name. Lastly getting through the adventure mode unlocks other modes to play through. All this adds up to me staying up till the sun comes up playing yet another game that involves the undead.

3.Good old “easy to learn tough to master gameplay”: Games that you learn everything you’ll ever need to know within the first 10 minutes can get boring fast. On the other hand games that take 2 hours just to learn the basics can drive people nuts. A great game strikes a perfect balance between the two and PVZ does this incredibly well. With each new plant or zombie a new wrinkle in the game design is added forcing the player to rethink previous strategies. I heard on the Flash of Steel podcast how PVZ could be compared to a CCG and they are right, the ability to choose your own lineup of plants to use definitely scratches that itch.

Overall I’m in love with PVZ and I think this is the first game from PopCap that has managed to pull me in. The only problem I could say about it is that if the game doesn’t grab you by about 7 stages in, then the game will never hook you as you are doing the same thing in each stage but with subtle differences. For those who are for a game that pushes all the right design buttons then PVZ is a must buy.

Josh

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“A very late night, or breaking down PopCap’s magic”

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