Co-op Mode is unfortunately not available from the start of the game; rather, it is unlocked by playing Adventure Mode. Don't worry, though, because co-op is fully supported throughout the entirety of that campaign. It would have been very easy for Pop Cap to leave co-op to one particular mode, so it's great to see that it was integrated in this way. Player 2 can drop in or out at any time, and both players share a common pool of sunlight. Each player has full access to all the plants, as well. The action can be very slow for two players at the start of a level, and communication is important, especially if you are saving up for an expensive plant. At times, you might feel like you are working against one another rather than cooperating. Co-op Adventure Mode is nice, but flawed.
The dedicated Co-Op Mode, on the other hand, fixes many of these issues. Each player has access to only four plants at a time, which means the plant selection is much more important than normal. Oddly, players do not share sunlight in Co-Op Mode, but in a strange twist, this helps to promote the teamwork feel somewhat. You have to watch both your pool and your partners constantly. Every once in a while, a double sun drops, which require both players to collect it simultaneously. Communication and good planning are even more important in Co-Op Mode, and once a level is completed, there is a rewarding sense of teamwork for both you and your co-op partner.
I was quite impressed with the co-op in Plants Vs.Zombies. Though it's limited to two players locally, the full integration in Adventure Mode is almost seamless, and very enjoyable, though not quite as much as that of Co-Op Mode. Playing in Co-Op mode feels almost like a new game, with all manner of interesting decisions to make and additional complexities that are welcome in what is, at its heart, a simple game. The Xbox Live Arcade version costs $15, which is actually less than the standard price on PC, and well worth it. The disc version retails for $20, but also includes full versions of Zuma and Peggle, easily worth the extra five-spot. Either version is highly recommended, as Plants Vs. Zombies for the Xbox 360 is the best version of the game yet; it is a no-brainer, if you'll pardon the pun.
The Co-Op Experience: 2 player co-op throughout Adventure Mode, plus a dedicated Co-Op Mode where each player has his or her own plants to cultivate.
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