Depending on how much you relish your DotA (If the acronym made you raise a puzzled eyebrow, don't worry. We'll get into all that shortly), you may either find Plants War [Free] an unexpected treat or a moderately competent RTS. It could go either way. Best described as a heavily diluted, single-player version of the world's favorite Warcraft III mod, Plants War will have you leading Dryad Forest's local vegetation in a struggle against some encroaching… animals? Global warming definitely screwed up the environment here.
Gameplay-wise, Plants War – Gamevil's latest freemium title – works something like this. Before you begin each stage, you'll be asked to elect an upgradable hero (the first you get for free, the others you'll have to earn through extensive grinding or buy as an in-app purchase). After that, you'll be at liberty to select the troops you want to deploy in the upcoming onslaught. Yet again, only the first one comes free.
To unlock the other units, you're going to have to amass a fortune in gold or green leaves. A fair warning, however – the number of horticultural soldiers that you can utilize is limited by the number of slots and plants points you have available. In order to exceed the quota, you're going to have to (you guessed it!) make a few choice purchases.
Once you're done with all those decisions, the action begins. The objective here is to blow up the enemy's base before they can do the same to yours. At regular intervals, both bases will spawn pre-determined units that will barrel towards their opponent with all the suicidal fortitude you would expect of NPC shock troopers. Needless to say, death is their only inhibition. Though you're significantly more powerful than the ground troops, you're not omnipotent. In order to succeed in your mission, you're going to have to make efficient usage of your unsuspecting meat shields.
You will also have to make full usage of the four different skills available to the Leafy that you're using. Initially, you're only going to be able to invest a point in one skill. However, as you gain in level (acquire the last hit on an enemy to gain the maximum amount of experience points possible), you will be able to pour more points into your skills. Alternatively, you can choose to increase your mana pool. The choice is yours. Anything goes so long as it ensures certain victory.
(For those of you who do play DotA, Plants War can be summed up as 'Middle-lane only DotA with no river, items or neutral camps.')
And that's pretty much the whole game in a nutshell. It doesn't get more complex than that. However, the details are what make Plants War work. Each stage will impose a new challenge to your talent for picking the most suitable troops. Are you facing off against highly aggressive mice with a penchant for gnawing through shrubbery? Be sure to bring along a Tree Protector and a grim-faced Potato Blower. Are you up against some sturdy bears? Try some Seed Shooters.
Though certain combinations work better than others, it's not impossible to be creative with things. As you progress through the game, you're also going to have to battle with a variety of enemy heroes, each more difficult than the last. While you can bring a different hero to the conflict (assuming you've already purchased them, of course), you can also attempt to make do with the first Leafy you use. How do you bait a fast-moving tiger into being mounted onto a wall? Can you kite a hard-hitting bear around in circles while slowly pepper spraying him into submission? Once again, it's entirely up to your own discretion.
The controls in Plants War are responsive and extremely simple to learn. To move, you tap on the screen. To attack, you tap on the screen. To use an ability, you – you get the picture. In order to zoom in and zoom out, you're going to have to alternately pinch and unpinch the screen. My only complaint here is the fact that targeting can be extremely difficult at times when the hero is clumped up with their troops.
With three levels of difficulty associated with each stage, twenty-four achievements to unlock, a multitude of rewards to collect and a menagerie of units to discover, there's not much to dislike about this stream-lined little title. Unfortunately, there's also not much to it. Once you've beaten the first few levels, things can grow rather repetitive. You can only do so much with the same set of faces. If you want new minions to abuse, you're going to have to either spend an inordinate amount of time grinding for gold coins or cough up the greens.
All said and done, however, it isn't too bad given the non-existent price of admission. The problem here is whether or not you like this style of play. If you enjoy this sort of experience, you will probably lose occasional hours to the game. If not, you will probably lose interest after the first three games. It's all rather binary.
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