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App Review: Plants vs. Zombies 2, It’s About Time

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After playing the game for a day, I appreciated the play on words in the title. “It’s About Time” refers to the fact that the sequel took long enough to come out. But it’s also a description of the game hook, traveling through time to find Crazy Dave’s taco!

Yeah, that’s an in-joke for players of the original game, but I think even those new to the franchise will enjoy this installment.

Although game play is similar, there are significant differences from the first version. The goal is the same, use plants as blockades to keep the zombies from invading. However, you’re not exactly defending your house anymore. It’s more sophisticated than that.

There are three time periods: Ancient Egypt, Pirate Seas and the Old West. In each “world,” you travel the map, defeating each level. As an added twist, you can go back to previous levels to do specific challenges in exchange for stars. You need the stars to unlock the next time period. Star challenges have requirements like “don’t spend more than 2000 sun” or “Have no more than 15 plants.” From glancing through the App Store reviews, I see a lot of people don’t like the challenges, but I think they are fun. They make me think, trying different plants and overall, keeping the game fresh.

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Another change from PvZ are Plant Food and Power Ups. Plant Food powers up an individual plant. You get effects like hitting every enemy on the map (by powering up the Cabbage-pult) or adding armor to a Wall-nut. Certain zombies carry Plant Food (don’t think too much about the implications of that,) and you can use coins to get more. I like Plant Food, and I use them on almost every level. I’ve also spent plenty of coins to get more.

I’m not as fond of Power Ups. There are three: “pinch” to destroy zombies, “flick” to destroy them and “swipe” to destroy them. The swipe has the coolest special effect (electrocuting them.) The Power Up effect only lasts for a short period of time. They are useful, but I find Plant Food to work well on most levels, and I’ve only occasionally used Power Ups. No doubt some serious gamers will tell me why I’m crazy.

Coins, by the way, can be earned in the game or purchased as In App Purchases. Which leads me to the biggest objection to the game (based on the reviews I read.) PvZ 2 is free, but Pop Cap has come up with lots of ways to take your money. You can buy certain plants, purchase keys (to unlock certain levels,) purchase certain key upgrades (like an extra plant slot) or coins. Some astute reviewers noted that making every purchase would come to about $100. That makes PvZ 2 a very expensive game.

So do you need them? I think I’m about halfway through the game, and I haven’t made any purchases. Some of the plants for sale are old favorites from the first game, and while they might be nice to have, they aren’t needed. Many of the upgrades are available through game play, if you’re patient. If you want to speed through the game, you’ll need to pay. If you’re patient and willing to accumulate coins, keys and stars, you’ll be fine.

When I rated it on the App Store, I gave it 4 stars. I knocked off one star because of the nag screens. I hate being nagged to buy stuff. Playing the game without WiFi (which I did while on vacation last week) does get rid of the nags.

Overall, I have to say it’s a fun game. I’ve spent many hours playing it, and I look forward to beating the Wild West (chicken zombies!). I don’t intend to spend any money on In App Purchases (sorry Pop Cap), so I’ve more than received my money’s worth. I think it’s a worthy successor. I just would have liked to have seen it sooner.

 

Link to App in iTunes

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