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Plants vs. Zombies for iPad gets hot and buttered

iPad owners aren't just getting a much larger version of PopCap's Plants vs. Zombies. They're getting a much fuller game--but at a premium.

The iPad's bigger screen real estate has held some of the biggest promise for fans of tower defense games, and iPhone and iPod Touch best-seller Plants vs. Zombies from PopCap could be one of the best early examples.

The iPad version of the title, dubbed Plants vs. Zombies HD, was leaked last week along with a slew of other iPad games through Apple's iTunes Web interface for apps. At $9.99, it costs more than three times its smaller sibling.

However, the iPad-optimized version brings the game nearly up to parity with the versions found on PC and Mac computers, which cost twice as much. This includes the proper top placement (instead of the side) of all the weapons and resources you must work with to defeat your zombie foes, as well as survival mode, which lets players try to stay alive for as long as possible. For many of those who have finished the game's campaign, this is the mode of choice, and something that was sorely missing from the iPhone version.

iPad users also get a new (and exclusive) mini-game mode called "buttered popcorn," which makes use of the iPad's multitouch display. As PopCap explains it:

Players attack zombies by first "buttering" them up before firing corn-cob cannons at them. To defeat the growing hordes of zombies, players can touch them to place butter on their heads. With the multitouch user interface, players can select up to 11 zombies at a time, targeted for 'buttering' by the powerful cob cannons.

Presumably, by selecting "11 at a time," PopCap means players are expected to use their nose, or the help of a friend, to select the extra zombie beyond their own 10 digits.

The new "buttered popcorn" mode has players tagging the zombies they want to take out with their fingers. Useful for times you want to focus your attentions on the baddies at the front of the line. PopCap/CNET

PopCap says it's sold 650,000 copies of the title for the iPhone and iPod. Users who have already paid for that version will, of course, still be able to play it on the iPad, but will need to buy a copy of the HD version if they want to take advantage of all the new features and extra screen real estate.

More screens after the break. Click on any shot to see it in its native iPad resolution.

Butter and zombie flesh does not normally go all that well together--unless you're using it to help corn cannons find their targets. PopCap/CNET

Situations where you have a ton of zombies on the screen are made slightly less difficult to see with the iPad's larger resolution. PopCap/CNET

The UI for selecting defenses has been moved back up to the top of the screen. On the iPod/iPhone version, it had been moved to the left of the screen. PopCap/CNET

More hot zombie defense action. PopCap/CNET