“Remember; no matter how desperate the situation seems, time spent thinking clearly is never time wasted.”
— Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide)
Game Name – Plants Vs. Zombies
ESRB Rating – E for Everyone
Genre – Tower Defense, Casual
Educational Values – Decision Making, Critical Thinking, Resource Management, Land Use
Price – $3 – $20 USD, or Free Online Play
Where to buy – Steam, www.popcapgames.com, Apple App Stores
Would we buy it? – Absolutely! It’s a fun game for kids and adults and a great teaching tool for everyone.
About the Genre
A “Tower Defense” game is where enemy units move from a starting point to an end location while the player tries to stop the enemies’ progress by building static defenses—towers—that can weaken, slow, or destroy the enemy. In PvZ, the towers are plants and the enemies are zombies.
About the Game
Plants Vs Zombies (PvZ) is a fun, comical version of a tower defense game that will keep the casual gamer interested. It differs from most tower defense games that have humanoid or machine enemies and gun turret defense towers in that it uses plants to defend against zombies who are attacking your house. The lack of violence makes PvZ appeal to all ages. PvZ has a gradual learning curve, allowing the player to develop strategies over time as new plant varieties become available for defense and more exotic zombies attack the house.
The game adds complexity by only allowing a player to bring in a set number of plant varieties to defend their lawn at the beginning of each round. In later rounds, the player may have 20 to 30 different types of plants available, but they may only able to choose six types of plants to utilize. The strategy involved in choosing plant combinations encourages coordination, planning, critical thinking, and problem solving.
What the Game Teaches Us
PvZ teaches land and resource management. For the player to be able to build additional towers, in this case plants, they must accumulate enough resources, in this case sunlight, to grow the plants. The player is allowed to use a limited number of plants in each round, as well as a limited number of sites to place plants. PvZ will help the player view things spatially and make geographic decisions.
The user must use critical thinking skills to address the challenges the game creates. Throughout the playing experience the user must constantly react to the changes on the lawn. Planning is required for specialized units, as each round begins with a look at the zombies that will be attacking.
General Feelings on the Game
Even without the teaching aspect, PvZ is a wonderful game. It is well worth the $20 available on Popcap games or Steam or the $2.99 on the Apple App store. It balances humor and gameplay that is complex enough to keep a hard core gamer interested while still being accessible for the casual gamer.