Survive the zombie apocalypse with some aggressive vegetation.
Crazy Dave – He’s a guy who, despite his mental instability and inability to speak in a language anyone understands, is moving up in the world. In the first Plants Vs Zombies game from PopCap, which is one of only a handful of games that I have completed multiple times on different platforms, Crazy Dave had a support role. He then released his own song (Wabby Wabbo) and many would be forgiven for thinking that this was perhaps the pinnacle of his career. But no, Crazy Dave has returned in the highly anticipated Plants Vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time and seems to be at the very centre of the action as he travels through time trying to get back to the time he ate the perfect Taco.
This journey through time, courtesy of Dave’s time traveling van Penny, makes about as much sense as the rest of the story as things obviously go wrong and the player gets to visit different time periods and defeat zombies with their gardening skills once again. However, it is not just the setting that is different this time…
The core game, which is a twist on the tower defence genre, remains intact. Players will plant various zombie defeating vegetation on a grid in an attempt to stop the zombies which travel along the rows from reaching the house. Different plants have different effects, providing offense, defense and support in their quest to stop the zombies from munching on brainz. And the variety of different zombies means different tactics are required to halt the flow of armoured zombies, jumping zombies, or fast moving zombies. The original formula, with all of its hidden complexities, is unchanged.
But Plants Vs Zombies 2 changes the game in other ways. As would be expected from a sequel, new plants are featured to add new tactical options to the player, such as the new fan favorite Bonk Choy that basically punches any zombies that get close enough. There are new themes to the different levels as well, as befits a tale about time travel, which give rise to new zombie types. An Egyptian zombie that steals your much-needed sun icons or Pirate zombies that roll barrels along a row are just a couple of the new types that the player will have to face.
However, the biggest change revolves around the fact that PopCap have presented this game to iOS gamers as free-to-play. Anyone who has played a game that is funded by micro-transactions would be right to worry, these games have a tendency to force payment from players by making the game so difficult or time consuming that progression is halted without cash.
Plants Vs Zombies 2 does indeed have a higher difficulty than the first game, something which may cause some problems and the temptation to spend some money for the more casual players. And it does indeed require the player to go back to previously completed levels for a bit of grinding. To progress, players will need to acquire a number of stars, or pay money. Collecting stars means going back to replay previous levels with a new challenge added or taking on bonus challenges, which require keys. The keys can be found by going back or, you guessed it, by paying money.
But here comes the good news – going back is no real hardship. The levels are entertaining and enjoyable enough that the small amount of grinding the player has to do will not diminish the fun. The challenges offered provide the variety and keep things fresh, and there is a lot of fun to be had in trying different tactics or approaches, especially with the new plants and zombies.
The basic fact is that so much of the game can be unlocked early with cash, and progression can be a lot quicker by handing over some money. But the game can be played in its entirety without spending anything, and the games endearing charm makes it perfectly enjoyable no matter how long it takes.
Making the game easier is another way that PopCap try and part the player from their cash, and in this case it comes in the form of power ups. Plant Food is a new addition that can super charge one of your plants for a short time to spectacular effect. Unlike the other power ups, this is dropped by glowing zombies and can be used quite frequently. Other power ups, such as the opportunity to pinch zombies heads off, flick them off the screen, or zap them, cost in game coins which are only gathered slowly, unless bought with real world money. Again, these are entirely optional, but can mean the difference between success and having brainz munched.
Plants Vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time brings the charm, humour, stunning presentation and simple gameplay to iOS devices as a free to play offering. I am sure that many players would have happily paid a premium price for the game without the micro-transactions, but the game is not hampered too much with the temptation to part with cash, and at least as a free to play title the game can reach all iOS owners. There is absolutely no reason not to grab the game, it is free after all, and I would imagine most players will put in that effort to keep playing way beyond almost any other micro-transaction funded title. It really is good and it keeps Crazy Dave in work, so go and get Plants Vs Zombies 2 now.