App Club: Why Is Plants Vs. Zombies Number One?

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Seriously, I know Allie already posted about this game, but WTF? I cannot understand why this game is all ruling on iTunes.

(If you haven’t played Plants vs. Zombies, watch this video trailer, featuring music oddly reminiscent of Tangerine Dream’s Risky Business soundtrack:

Look, I don’t have anything against it. I’ve played it. OK, actually I’ve played it a lot. The writing and art direction are good. The number and variety of the units provide something approximating rich gameplay. My day is reliably brightened by the way the little sunflower guys bop their flower-heads back and forth, so happy are they to be adding to my store of precious plant-growing sunlight.

Why does the success of this game irk me? What is my major malfunction? Maybe it’s that it’s not very hard. You’re going to have drill pretty far into the game before you lose a round. I know this because although I am an avid gamer, I am not an above-average gamer. There’s this place in BioShock 2 where I had to switch it to easy. We don’t talk about that.

Horrible Vikings — now that’s a game that really pushes you to the wall. You’re forced deeper and deeper into the world, because you’re going over and over the challenges, until your soul freezes over and you become, au fond, a horrible Viking. That doesn’t happen with a game like this. It panders to you, just a leetle bit, by letting you win.

Also I have a pet peeve about tower defense games that put everything in straight lines. Your GeoDefense, say, or your Fieldrunners, those are games where enemy pathfinding is a major part of the gameplay mechanic. Likewise your defensive units can actually swivel their turrets. Thus the game echoes, however cartoonishly, some of the elements of real world strategic problem-solving.

This thing where enemies run on tracks, straight into your fixed, immobile guns, like some kind of one-dimensional Maginot Line scenario … it just doesn’t do it for me. I mean, I know zombies are dumb, and plants are dumb, and maybe this actually is an accurate simulation of real-life vegetal-necroform combat …

OK, I’m going to go suck at BioShock 2 some more.

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