PS Vita Review – Plants Vs. Zombies

PopCap’s Plants Vs. Zombies is available on nearly every relevant platform possible. And now, for the PlayStation Vita launch, they’re bringing it to Sony’s new handheld in a big way – with new features and a Platinum Trophy. We know the game is amazing, but are the new Vita features enough to jog your braaaaaaains?

Many versions of Plants Vs. Zombies come with touch-control capabilities. Like iOS and Android, the Vita also uses such means for selecting plants and placement. Touch works well on smaller devices, but with the Vita, the 5-inch OLED screen — while absolutely gorgeous and vibrant — is too large to play comfortably. Because of the screen’s sheer size, and the added area where the analog stick and buttons lie, you cannot use your thumbs to play. Instead you’re forced to hold the Vita in one-hand, while the other hand takes on a point and touch approach. I also found touch controls to be distracting, because my right-hand kept covering up the slowly advancing zombies.

After a long play session (and trust me, you will play for a long time – it’s addicting), this causes strain in the shoulders and wrists. D-pad and analog sticks are an option, but are not the default control scheme. To make it play more like it would on the PS3, you’ll have to go into the game’s settings and toggle off the touch. I highly recommend doing this unless you simply must use touch.

The Vita version also utilizes sixaxis tilt functionality to pick up the game’s “sun” (and coins, too), which is used almost like currency to “purchase” new plants and add them to the lawn. This is great for when you have many sunflowers down, therefore many rays of sun, and touching or scrolling can take your attention away from the action. Just a quick flick of the wrist is enough to nab the sun. But at the same time, it’s not something you’ll want to use consistently, especially not in the cases where there are only one or two suns on-screen.

Plants Vs. Zombies on the Vita includes all of the original game modes and includes mini-games, puzzle, and survival games. Even the Zen Garden is here. But those aren’t features that are exclusive to the Vita version. Also new, at least to PlayStation platforms is the PvZ ‘Zombatar’ zombie creator. This Zombatar is available over at PopCap’s official website, too. But the Vita version actually puts the zombies you create in the game. They tend to appear leading the final wave of zombies for any given stage. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s cool to see your creation show up in the midst of a heated battle.

The game itself is a faithful port. A port that looks better than ever due to the Vita’s OLED screen. The adorable zombies, slowly encroach upon the angry defensive plants in an all-out war. For those of you who have never played the game before, it’s part puzzle, part tower-defense-ish, 100% great time. It’s approachable for kids and adults alike, and is easy enough to master, but deep enough for serious strategy. It’s practically a perfect game.

Unfortunately, the Vita-specific features aren’t enough for me to recommend a purchase if you already have Plants Vs. Zombies on another platform. Unless you simply must have the expanded trophy set (including a Platinum) and you’re already a big fan (like me). But if somehow, some way, you’ve missed this game before, the PlayStation Vita version is still one of the better versions out there. And if you haven’t played this game yet, you’re missing out on one of the very best downloadable titles ever created – even if it’s rather expensive at $14.99. It’s cute, it’s deep, it’s addictive – you can’t go wrong, really.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ One of my favorite games…ever.

+ Zombatar and new trophy set make Vita version appealing…

– …but touch controls are hindering on the Vita’s massive screen.

7.5 out of 10