How to Play Plants Vs. Zombies

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An addictive casual/strategy game, Plants vs Zombies forces players to defend their houses---and their brains---from wave after wave of an undead invasion. The zombies are hungry for brains, and they attack the player's front lawn; backyard, complete with swimming pool; and even the house's roof. Players have a plant-based arsenal ready to swing into action as well as a crazy neighbor (Crazy Dave) to give occasional advice and sell them helpful items at exorbitant prices. Download the game or try a limited version online first (link in resources) and get ready to protect your brains.

Things You'll Need

  • Intel-based Mac or Windows PC
  • Internet connection (to download or to play online)
  • Start the adventure. Handily enough, clicking "Start Adventure" begins the game. The scene is the player's front yard, which starts as one lane, or row, of grass. Click on the Peashooter seed packet (card) as the game directs, and choose a square of grass on which to plant it. The Peashooter shoots peas at zombies, which stagger across the lawn toward the house. If a zombie gets past the plant defense, and the lawnmower backup, it will enter the house and eat the character's brains. Ten peas will kill your basic zombie, the ones without hats.

  • Collect suns. As the battle commences, suns will fall from the sky. Click on them; each will add 25 to the total at the top left of the screen. Each plant listed at the top of the screen (just the Peashooter to start) has a number; you need that many suns to buy one. At the end of the first skirmish, collect the sunflower seed packet. In the next round, in addition to the suns falling from the sky, the sunflower will pop out suns occasionally.

  • Continue fighting. The levels continue with more zombies and hardier ones (if a zombie has a hat, the plants must knock off the hat before they can knock off its head). After the warm-up levels, the plants will have five rows in which to defend the house---six rows on the pool levels. Note the progress meter at the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

  • Choose the plants. There are six plant slots in the beginning (players have the opportunity to buy more later), so once the player have collected more than six plants, she will have to choose which six to use on the next level. Hint: Before choosing, the player will be able to see which kinds of zombies he will be facing, which can inform the decision. Some plants work only at night. Always choose a sun-producing plant.

  • Listen to Crazy Dave. The neighbor, Crazy Dave, will appear from time to time to explain what's going to happen next.

  • Collect coins. Sometimes a zombie's death will yield a silver or gold coin. Collect them to use in Crazy Dave's tailgate shop, another element that will be unlocked later in the game.

  • Branch out. The mini-games, puzzle modes and survival levels are locked at the start of the game, but can be visited later for some gaming variety, and in some cases, the opportunity for tons of coins. The Zen garden, once available, is also a coin-producing area---though players have to drop some money there as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • In the night levels, be aware of the gravestones; zombies can rise from some of them mid-level, and players will have less space in which to kill them.
  • When selecting plants, note not just their prices and power, but their recharge rate as well. Many plants replenish quite slowly, and players cannot buy more until the plants are fully charged. Players can check the recharge rate once they have collected the Almanac.
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