Hardcore Gamer Gone Soft: Confessions of a 'Plants vs. Zombies' Fan

Why PopCap's Game Works

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I have saved the world from aliens, zombies, inter-galactic and inter-dimensional empires, defeating the likes of Darth Vader, Saren Arterius, the Nihilanth, and Dr. Wallace Breen. (Don't worry, I'll wait while you Google some of those names.) I have prevented countless disasters that would have left humans extinct. All without leaving my chair.

I am a hardcore gamer. I'm attracted to your average gritty shoot-em-up. Usually I wouldn't give a game with dancing flora more than a passing glance, but something caught my attention.

Said flora was slaying zombies.

In most zombie apocalypse games, you play a BFG-toting man that's built like Arnold Schwarzenegger and sounds like Duke Nukem (with good reason, since little Mr. . Wilson from down the street probably wouldn't last long against a horde of the living dead), but in Plants vs. Zombies, you control (you guessed it) plants.

Now, at first, I thought this would be a scenario of "You got your Farmville in my Left 4 Dead," but PopCap did a good job of making zombie-killing plants feel natural. They also appealed to the hardcore gamer in me that likes strategy-based tower defense games.

PopCap found the right balance between hardcore strategy and casual mind-numbing fun. Picking the right seed packets can make or break the defense of your home. While this can be frustrating for some (choosing poorly can doom you from the start,) it adds another level of complexity and customizability for others.

They say you learn something new every day. Plants vs. Zombies taught me three things:

1. Zombies can swim. (So much for Zombie Apocalypse Contingency Plan No. 18: Live on an island)

2. Casual games can actually be (*gasp*) fun. And not only when you're stuck on a bus sitting next to a smelly guy.

3. Gardens not only raise the value of your home, but they also come in handy for fending off brain-eating monsters.

Or you could always go old-school and keep a shotgun in your umbrella stand.

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