Most helpful critical review
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Not quite what you get
on July 27, 2012
The game itself is a lot of fun. The designers have a great sense of humor and are very creative. I played it for the first time online at POPcap's site and loved it right away. So I came to Amazon's Games and Software so I can avoid the hassle of trying to install the same game on other computers on my home network and being denied--their system usually makes downloading and installing casual games on a PC fast and easy.
However, one of the pitfalls of this system for casual gamers like me is that you may get more than you bargained for if you don't pay good attention or aren't familiar with other forms of gaming. In this case you are getting a games system client or games manager (similar to BigFish or iWin, etc.) which must be installed along with the game before you can play the game, which isn't immediately apparent in the game's description. In fact, you do not download the game at all thru this link (for PC version) at Amazon. You are downloading something called Origin--which is what EA now calls its games client. After waiting for hours for the thing to download (I didn't think to check the size of the download--1.28 GB!!!--since other games I'd ordered were very fast) on a DSL connection, I had to then register a new account with Origin, which involved agreeing to more than one EULA, picking an avatar, deciding on privacy and social gaming settings, etc. Fine, I thought, get all that done and I can start playing the game. But no, I was told I had no games at Origin and had to enter the license key from the Amazon downloader to search for the game I just bought. Then, when it found out I had bought a game is when the actual download and install of the game took place, which took almost another hour (and more EULA's), before I was able to play.
When I searched for this game on Amazon, the first result was, apparently, the standalone version from POPcap games, but it was not available for download immediately as of late July of 2012--one is asked to sign up to be notified when it is available. I wish now that I had waited for this version. If you have a PlayStation or Xbox, etc., and are heavily into gaming, you probably already know about all this--and I'm sure the gaming client has its advantages, but if you are just a casual PC gamer like me that just wants to play on a real computer when taking a break from more mundane tasks, you might want to wait for the version directly from POPcap to arrive.
According to a blog at PopCap Games, they have partnered with Origin now, so it seems unlikely that you will ever be able to get the simple stand alone version. There are other things irritating about the Origin system once you get it installed, but I want to say at this point that all the effort to get this games is worth it as I absolutely love this game. If it weren't for the Origin system it would easily get five stars from me. It's just very irritating to me that I have to log in to play a game installed on my desktop. I just want this for a diversion and have no interest in going online with it--plus it is not clear to me what I can do online with it anyway. Other than the game updating itself, being online seems to be more for Origin's benefit rather than mine or yours. Plus when you play this on a home network, if someone else is playing on another computer it makes you think you can't play. Just put it in offline mode when this happens and you'll be good to go.
Another reviewer has recommended buying at a brick and mortar store if you want to avoid the hassles I mentioned, but, with Popcap aligned with Origin now, that would just avoid the long amount of time it takes to download everything. You'll still have to deal with creating an Origin account and all that goes with that, altho I expect there are plenty of copies of this on the shelves pre-merger.
Now, for a review of the game itself, my opinion is it's one of the all time best casual games ever made. PopCap's lineup has always been high quality, but they have outdone themselves with this one. If you like strategy and humorous creativity, this game is for you. I won't go into the premise of the game as it has been covered pretty well already on this page.
One criticism that holds some weight is that there could be more difficulty and maybe that will happen in second version. The difficulty doesn't ramp up after the second time you play thru Adventure mode and then collect enough money to buy all ten slots--at least not in any obvious way. I think there are some changes in algorithm that makes levels harder the more you play. But anyway, the criticism is only valid for Adventure mode. There are plenty of Minigames and achievements to shoot for. I read somewhere this game was designed for children, and I can see that--besides its cartoonish nature, it is a good game for teaching children to set and achieve goals. The Achievements page of the game makes this easy and is also pretty funny while being self-promotional for PopCap at the same time (keep scrolling down til you get to China zombies).
I tend to stick to Adventure mode in games like these, with maybe some exploration into minigames, if available. If I had done that with this game I would have missed out on a full and rich experience. For example, I couldn't see much purpose in the Zen Garden--til I figured out it was the best way to make enough money to buy the 10 slots. Then when I got those, tending to the garden appealed to my farmer/horticulturist side. When you get your Zen Garden pretty full, you will never want for money. Unfortunately the game won't let you become a millionaire--the money counter stops at $999,990.
In like manner you may not think the Tree of Wisdom is worth the trouble and it's fertilizer is too expensive, but once you have plenty of money you'll find it helpful--and funny. There are some Easter eggs you wouldn't normally know about without the Tree of Wisdom.
My favorite, and what I find myself playing most of all now is I, Zombie Endless in Puzzle mode. You can learn a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of each type of zombie thru experience in this minigame. Plus there are enough variables to it that it is always interesting and I have slowly but surely progressed in the number of levels achieved.
All in all I'm very satisfied with this game--I just wish the installation of it were much simpler.