Vampires vs Zombies
When I first read the name Vampires vs. Zombies I immediately thought that there finally would be a sequel to Popcap’s famous Plants vs. Zombies. To my surprise this new release by Alawar turned out to be a very different take on the Farm Frenzy formula, basically a humorous mash up of True Blood and Dawn of the Dead. I have to admit that I grew tired of the Farm Frenzy series a couple of years ago, but to my relief this game’s approach feels really fresh and exciting.
Vampires vs. Zombies features 75 levels at five different locations and eight arcade levels. While there is a timer for each level you can take as long as you want to beat it. When you finish any level in gold or silver time you will receive additional stars for upgrades, but it is also possible to replay any level for more stars so that there is no real disadvantage to playing at your own pace. Between levels you are able to walk though a castle with a lot of doors – some of them cannot be opened until you find the correct key, others lead to the laboratory or the battle map. This is a very smart feature which keeps the player engaged through every minute of the game.
The storyline of the game is hilarious. When dictator Boombata creates his own army of zombies to take over the world the league of vampires decides to fight against it. And if you think about it this opposition is a logical consequence, since a world full of zombies cannot be too good for vampires. The whole atmosphere of Vampires vs. Zombies could not be any better, the graphics are dark with a subtle colorful touch and the story gradually moves along as you play.
The general design of Vampires vs. Zombies is very similar to that of Farm Frenzy and despite the hilarious setting players of that series will have no problem getting into it. Vampires, for example farmers and miners who produce stones and pumpkins walk around the centre of your current location, while machines which produce more expensive products from those raw resources are located at the sides. With a few clicks you can collect those resources and send them to the appropriate machines.
Your goals include hiring a specific number of certain types of vampires, earning a huge amount of money or producing a variety of products. Instead of bears different zombies will attack your vampires but can be taken to pieces (literally) by clicking on them. Those zombies will then provide powder that can be sold or used for refined products and sometimes you will even find collectibles. Each of those items is part of ten different collections that provide you with different advantages when completed. These collectibles definitely add another motivation to replay levels later on.
Plants vs. Zombies also offers features introduced by other games of this genre – there are certain combinations of products that can be sold to the market for additional money, there are perks that can increase productivity of vampires or machines when upgraded, and you certainly have to order particular items from the market that cannot be produced. The upgrade system itself is highly similar to that of Farm Frenzy, it is possible to improve your warehouse, each machine, some of the more expensive vampire types, and to purchase perks.
One of the few issues of Vampires vs. Zombies are the at times awkward controls. Clicks on machines are not registered, there is no effective way to keep vampires away from rays of light and as soon as it gets too hectic it is inevitable to perform an unintended action. Along with the already steep grade of difficulty this can make for some very frustrating moments. Furthermore the game also gets slightly repetitive towards the end, despite the constant introduction of new products and features.
But these minor issues do not change our overall experience – the game has a lot to offer and feels very fresh in spite of the all too familiar formula. It’s bizarrely entertaining to whack zombies, give B.L.O.O.D. potions to vampires to increase their productivity, to collect macabre items to complete collections, explore the castle to find new rooms or bonus stars for upgrades and to watch laugh out loud funny animations.
Vampires vs. Zombies is a blast for fans of this particular genre, but is also worth a try for players with a sense for black humor. While there is no definite answer why vampires should be the good guys as opposed to zombies, it might simply be a case of choosing the lesser of two evils. If you can accept some flaws with the controls and prefer a difficult challenge this game definitely meets expectations and is an entertaining way to spend some spooky yet amusing hours.