Beware Planet Earth! isn’t a sequel to Plants vs Zombies, but it’s darned close
The tower defense gaming space baffles me a little. While the underlying concept has been around for decades, it’s only really taken off properly over the last few years, with all sorts of variations and takes on the theme. The bit that gets me all befuddled is why, after so many years of iteration, there are still so many TD titles released today that are the spitting, age-old image of those from so many years ago.
Even when a developer really breaks out from the crowd and creates something glorious, such as Plants vs Zombies or Anomaly: Warzone Earth, other developers appear to completely ignore it and continue churning out the same old drivel. Those who do take inspiration from the big guns, such as Zombie Pirates, are greatly rewarded with gameplay that we actually want to indulge in.
Lightmare Studio is one such clever studio. The team realized that if it took PopCap's Plants vs Zombies and injected the regular tower defense angle, it would emerge from the other end with something great. The result? Beware Planet Earth!, a game that gives even its inspiration a run for its money.
Aliens are attacking Earth and, as you'd expect, they're not bothering with the humans, but instead going straight for the cows. Over a series of 60+ levels, you need to plop down machines for taking out the aliens, and keep your livestock safe and well and away from the potential probing.
As with your average tower defense game, the aliens only journey along set paths, meaning that you can set towers and traps for them at various points along the way. As different aliens are introduced, you'll need to watch which towers you use and keep variety the meal of the day.
If you fired up the game without checking who it was by, you would swear this was another PopCap game. From the huge injection of personality, the cute bubbly visuals, and even the soundtrack and the game's various interfaces, it's all very well presented and works to make play even more compelling.
But more than that, the game doesn't just copy PopCap's style - it rips numerous elements from Plants vs Zombies and uses them frivolously. The idea of collecting cogs (sunshine) from machines (sunflowers), the “Barney” character, and slowly building up the types of machines you have and then being limited in which you use are all very familiar elements. Everything screams "more than inspiration."
But you know what? We've been longing for more Plants vs Zombies action since we finished the original for the umpteenth time, and quite honestly, Beware Planet Earth might as well be a sequel, which is an insanely good thing.
It's not like it's a straight rip either, as Beware Planet Earth! throws in plenty of its own ideas, from the aforementioned mixture of PvZ and regular path-focused tower defense, to the various nifty devices you can get, such as the zapper which can be fired at individual enemies to damage them.
On top of the lengthy campaign mode, you've also got various challenges to beat, which really add to the game's longevity. Simply put, you're going to be playing this game into the early hours of the morning whether you like it or not.
Beware Planet Earth! is perhaps a little too easy, especially for the average tower defense veterans, and each level usually devolves into placing tons of cog machines, then feasting on the teethy output. Later levels do put up more of a fight, but we never really had a significant problem throughout play.
So there you have it - if you've been longing for more Plants vs Zombies action, Beware Planet Earth! has you covered. Why it's taken a studio this long to go all PopCap on the tower defense genre is beyond us, but we're glad someone finally did. Get this downloaded asap - at least make sure you grab the demo.
- Great presentation with oodles of personality. Very addictive. Plenty of content to work your way through.
- Will be a little too easy for TD veterans.