Developer – PopCap Games
Publisher – PopCap Games, Sony Online Entertainment
Platforms – PlayStation Vita, PC, Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, Android, iOS, etc.
If you haven’t heard of Plants vs. Zombies by now then you haven’t been paying very much attention. PopCap’s vegetation defense game is a darling addition to any gaming library. It’s been fairly proliferate, jumping to almost every possible gaming platform under the sun. The PS Vita is no exception.
Plants vs. Zombies is one of the many launch titles for the western release of the handheld.
The story is the same as ever. Zombies have attacked your home and only your collection of anthropomorphic plants can save you. In successive levels, you defend your home (and consequently your brain) as the zombies come up with more and more ways to attack you. You’ll fend off zombies in your front lawn, your backyard, at night, in the fog, and on your roof.
I’ve only ever played Plants vs. Zombies on the PC, back when Michael Jackson was a zombie (in the game) and still alive (in real life). This version is very close to the original version and so if you’ve played a past version of the game then you should know what you’re getting into with this version.
Plants vs. Zombies looks great on the Vita. The frame rate is very smooth and the level of detail is quite good. That said, it’s not the best looking 2D Vita game out there. While the plants and zombies look bright and healthy, the environment is a bit drab. The grass in particular is a little smudgy. Still, the game is colorful and a pleasure to look at.
The first style uses touch controls. By touching the front screen of the Vita, you can place plants and gather sunlight all at once. It’s quite responsive. I found it easy to plant my defenses and gather sunlight simultaneously with one finger. Drag a plant onto the grid and any sunlight your come into contact with also gets collected. You can tap the screen if you like but I prefer swiping my finger to pick up multiple things at once.
The Vita also allows you to tilt the handheld in order to collect items on the screen. This is very useful if you’ve finished planting and want to watch your defenses at work, while still collecting sunlight for emergencies. It’s also very useful if you need to scratch yourself or eat an ice cream cone.
It would be senseless to have a touch enabled version of Plants vs. Zombies without also allowing a more conventional input method. You can also control the game with the directional pad (and analog stick), while planting with the X button, and switching plants with the left and right shoulder buttons. Picking up sunlight and coins only requires you to move your cursor near the items. They will automatically fly towards your as if magnetic.
After playing with the touchscreen controls, I found the digital controls to be lacking. It’s much faster and more convenient to swipe your finger around.
For all the convenience of touch controls, it’s easy to see that the UI hasn’t quite been optimized for the PS Vita. The buttons are much too small compared to a person’s finger. I found myself tapping multiple times to have my button presses register on the menu screens. Rest assured, this doesn’t come into play when playing the actual game. The gameplay screen performs very well, it’s just the menus that are a bit fickle.
If you’re looking to switch from one control scheme to another, you’ll have to do it through the game’s main menu and not during the in-game pause menu. Earlier in my testing this led me to believe that I could only use touch controls, because the in-game pause menu only showed the option to turn the tilt sensor on or off.
Now, if you are in a game and really need to switch the control scheme, feel free to quit to the main menu and do it there. Your game will allow you to continue your game even if you select ‘Exit Game’ from the pause menu.
It definitely fits any handheld device but on the Vita, it’s in an interesting spot. It has the visual fidelity that you would expect when playing on your computer or on your console of choice. At the same time though, it’s portable and comes with two distinct control styles.
If you’re itching to play Plants vs. Zombies on your Vita, then be happy to know that it’s perfectly fine. This is a fine port and a worthy download if you’re looking for a safe buy.