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Unlike many apps, I actually tried this game as a free trial on my laptop before downloading it on my iphone to play the full version. It is a very solid game, let down occassionally by the price and its thinly vailed attempts to take more money from you, which I will discuss in more detail heading by heading.
GAMEPLAY Plants vs Zombies' adventure mode takes place over fifty levels with new zombies constantly being introduced, a new setting appearing every ten levels, and new plants appearing frequently. Mini-games also play a key part in breaking up gameplay and keeping things fresh. On the whole it is a balance that works. The game is fun, exciting and varied for the most part. I only have one gripe with the game and that is the difficulty curve. It certaintly progresses in difficulty and does so in good increments. But it does so at the cost of enjoyment. I won't include spoilers, because much of the games fun comes from some lighthearted suspense about whats coming next, or what hasn't been encountered, but the new difficulties tend to be fustrating after a certain point. There are better ways to increase difficulty, I think, and other tower defence games do it well. That said, it is still hard to fault an iPhone game of a tower-defence genre that has such a gripping adventure mode and so it still gets my recommendation and would do even if only the first thirty levels existed.
GRAPHICS Whilst not really my key concern in buying an app to pass a few hours here and there where needed, it would have been annoying to buy a game and then discover it was a pixelated mess. Plants vs Zombies delivers fairly well. The zombies are well formed. The defending plants are clearly recognisable. The settings are crisply delivered. Absolutely no problems present themselves in this department in my opinion.
SOUND I strongly believe that this is a department in which Pop Cap (the game's creators) have excelled. The sounds are rather charming, combining very mild creepy sounds as befits the game with often rather funny quips from the zombies. The call of 'I'm coming' in a creepy, undead voice is actually very endearing and adds another little something to differentiate this game from others.
PRICE With the ability to download many free apps I suppose the question on many people's lips will be: 'Why should I buy this game'. The price is actually rather expensive, I paid 1.99 and for that you could probably purchess three fairly enjoyable games elsewhere. However, they wouldn't be nearly as extensive as this one, wouldn't contain the same variation, length of levels or mini-game features. So my opinion is the price can be looked past. This is actually especially the case given that its ancestors on other platforms (PC etc) are more expensive in most scenarios and actually the iphone version of the game is good value.
EASE OF USE Can a game of this complexity be used easily on an iphone? I am a very big thumbed individual and my answer is certaintly yes! I have not had an issue with misplacing plants of pressing the wrong part of my touch screen no matter how intricate a process it seemed. This was one huge potential pit fall and Pop Cap avoided it excellently.
ADDED EXTRAS The game offers a huge array of mini-games with very interesting premises in exchange for coins. This is distinctive to the iPhone edition: my friends tell me more games are immediately unlockable on the PC version. A word of warning. The amount of coins needed are large and a huge amount of gameplay will be required. It seems to me that perhaps Pop Cap are trying to entice those hooked on the game to purchess extra coins for real money from them. This seems a little cheeky to me. The other platforms have these games much more accessibly and the game wasn't cheap in the first place. That said, the game is still very good beyond that and some of the mini-games are still available, so this is a belmish, but I do not believe it is a fatal one.
Overall then a very enjoyable well crafted game, one I would certainly recommend. As a post-note, I would recommend it to most ages and genders too: I don't think the theme of zombies is presented in too scary a way. I suppose it is best to consult the guidence given with the game (9+ in the UK).