I just spent a bunch of time playing almost all of Plants vs Zombies. Then I watched my seven-year old daughter play it. She loves it. A fairly fun game, and, from an Indie gaming perspective, very, very interesting. If you haven't yet, first watch the viral video that's been selling the game like mad. After that, trying the demo (at the very least) is really worthwhile.
Some observations ...
1. You Could Have Written This Game. - Two or three dedicated people, in two years, could make this game. It'd take hard work and skill, of course, but that is always true. Even in the age of the blockbuster, a small, good team can still make a title that gets a lot of attention.
2. You Can Do Something New With An Old Genre. - If someone had e-mailed me a year ago and asked my opinion about whether it would be worthwhile to write a tower defense game, I would have been, like, "Are you crazy? The secret is to find an underserved market you can really rock, not an insanely saturated one." Shows how little I know. If a genre is popular, it's always possible for a really smart designer to find a new angle on it and gain some serious traction.
3. The Game Is EASY. - Wow, is it easy. Tower defense games are general about being ground down by stronger and stronger waves of implacable foes until your inevitable defeat. Not your cheery, casual-friendly sort of thing. Plants vs. Zombies starts easy and stays easy. Anyone with much gamer experience is going to chew it up and spit out the bones. Only the final survival mode levels (which you have to play most of everything to unlock) require any real thought.
This is GENIUS. I think, if the game is a real success, resisting the urge to make it hard will account for most of the victory. It made it a potential buy for a whole new universe of fans, and, to keep the hardcore around, it has a clever strategy ...
4. A Thousand New Things Is a Thousand New Things - There are dozens of plants you can buy and dozens of types of zombies to fend off. Even when the game is so easy as to be a bit tedious (as I found), the new stuff really helps to maintain interest.
The thing is, most of the new stuff is fairly shallow. "Here's a zombie with a special sort of shield." "Here's a plant that can shoot around that shield." Only a few of the plants and zombie types are really unique, but the constant barrage of pretty new stuff is enough to maintain interest.
In sum, interesting stuff. And the game is a bit on the casual side for me, but I did enjoy it. And it helped to pass the time until my XBox gets fixed.