If you were to offer me the choice of one PopCap game, I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. It is widely agreed that PopCap are the masters of the casual gaming genre and whilst the majority of their games have that quick hit satisfaction with the ability to keep the player entertained for extended periods, it is that ability to keep gamers of all types interested that makes the games so popular, and so difficult to choose from. With the launch of PopCap Hits volume 2 for Xbox360 so soon after Volume 1, I am sure that I will not be the only one that has trouble choosing what to play.
Once again this compilation from Mastertronic brings together four PopCap games onto one disc. And once again the value of the package is directly linked to how many of the games that the player has already bought from XBLA, but more on that later. The games are offered in the same way as the first volume, with players being able to choose which they wish to play from a menu that is run from the disc, but quitting the game will take the player back to their library instead of to the disc menu. This is because the games are quite simply identical to the arcade versions. Nothing has been changed or added, which is perhaps not a bad thing.
Of the four games that are available, perhaps the stand out title, for me at least, is Plants Vs Zombies. This incredible twist on the Tower Defence genre will see the player defending their house from a variety of rampaging zombies by using what can only be described as mutated plants. Different environments are offered up that will see the player having to deploy night time plants, water plants and even plants that grow in plant pots on the roof, as they defend against pole-vaulting zombies, disco dancing zombies and scuba equipped swimming zombies. Seriously, the humour has to be appreciated in the game.
But in Plants Vs Zombies, the fun doesn’t stop there. For the Xbox360 version of the game, multiplayer has been added. Then there is a multitude of mini-games to enjoy and the wonderful Zen Garden. Quite simply, Plants Vs Zombies is a game that you really need in your life, making this package quite attractive.
Feeding Frenzy 2 takes the formula of the first feeding Frenzy game and adds to it. Another 60 odd levels of big fish eats smaller fish whilst avoiding bigger fish action. Not a huge amount has changed, at least in the main game. The player has to swim around munching of fish that are smaller than themselves whilst avoiding the larger fish. After a while they grow and can eat the larger fish, still avoiding those even larger. Things seem to look a bit better in this sequel, but the major changes have come from the addition of something new.
Feeding Frenzy 2 has included a local co-op mode that allows player tot team up with their buddies to work through the story mode, or have some fun in a selection of ten mini-games. It may not be that much of a change from the original, but that doesn’t stop it from being pure casual fun.
The third game on the disc is Heavy Weapon, a game perhaps a little less casual than expected. This is a classic side-scrolling shooter that uses the twin-stick control method, with the left stick controlling movement and the right controlling aiming as the player works their way through some 19 missions and a collection of alternate modes. As the player scrolls along, shooting the enemy planes in the sky and on the ground, the player will be able to find various power-ups and ammo drops to make their journey easier.
Heavy Weapon is frantic arcade action, with tons going on and some really impressive boss battles. Appealing to the less casual gamers, heavy Weapon also included different modes for those that have already completed the campaign and some nice multiplayer action, either locally or across XBL.
The final game to be offered here is the classic Zuma. The player controls a frog-like creature who is able to shoot coloured balls from it’s mouth as it attempts to match three of the same colour to stop the invasion of coloured balls from reaching their target. The invading balls follow a track and the player quite simply spins around and shoots to match three or more and make them disappear.
As usual, there are a huge number of levels and a wide selection of power-up balls available to the eagle-eyed that make the players’ life easier by doing things like stopping the onslaught of balls or even making them roll backwards. Zuma is addictive casual gaming at it’s best.
There is no denying that this is an impressive package, especially since Plants Vs Zombies has not been on XBLA for very long. But, as I said before, the value of this package is directly related to how many of the games that you already own. If you already own Zuma, Feeding Frenzy 2 or Heavy Weapon and I would say that the package is still worthwhile, just for the excellent Plants Vs Zombies. But if you already own Plants Vs Zombies, or two of the other games, then I would be hard pressed to recommend this title.
Of course, if you have yet to sample any of these gaming delights, then I cannot emphasise enough that you should quickly rush out and buy PopCap Hits Volume 2. Perhaps more so than the first compilation, Volume 2 offers a variety of gaming that will appeal not only to the casual gamer. This compilation contains hours and hours of entertainment for anyone with an Xbox360.