PopCap Games should be a household name for gamers. If you haven't played Peggle you're seriously missing out, and Bejeweled has eaten up far more time than I care to say. Plants Vs Zombies has already done the business on PC, Mac and iPhone, and now Xbox 360 owners can see why a game about plants is so utterly brilliant. PopCap's latest is a title so packed full of quality and charm that we can't think of anyone who'd play it and not find themselves hopelessly addicted.
In truth, the game isn't hugely original. You play yourself, an ordinary guy or girl whose house happens to be under attack from zombies. It's your everyday scenario really, and it just so happens that you've got an army of plant-based weapons and soldiers to help you out - hence the game's title. What we've got here is more or less a tower defence game. Your house is on the left of the play area, a grid sits in the middle - on which you can plant your weapons - and the zombies stagger from right to left in an attempt to munch through the flora and get to the front door.
Your goal in each level is to prevent the zombie horde from reaching the house, but it's not easy. Firstly you'll need sun, which as any good gardener knows is essential for plant growth. The sun appears as collectable tokens from a number of sources: daylight levels provide you with a small but steady stream of sun, sunflowers produce sun during day and night levels, and sun-shrooms (a kind of mushroom) produce sun during the night. Collected sun is added to your overall sun stockpile, which can then be used to plant various weaponised plants on the game grid.
There's an RTS-style cool-down period for each plant type too, so you can't just build up lots of sun and then spam-plant loads of the most powerful weapon type. Collecting sun tokens is easier than I expected it to be using an Xbox 360 controller, with the cursor semi-free to move while also snapping lightly to the grid.
Early on you're going to have to make do with the basic Pea Shooter (a kind of bog standard long-range fixed weapon), the useful Wall-nut (a living wall who gets sadder and sadder as he's eaten away) and the Cherry Bomb (a close proximity explosive that goes off more or less as it's planted), but before too long there's a whole heap of plant types on offer and a varied selection of zombies on the warpath. You'll have Potato Mines, Snow Peas (which slow down enemies), Chompers (zombie eating monstrosities), Repeaters (dual-pea firing gun) and a whole host of fungi weapons that can only be used at night - some being completely free in terms of sun cost.