Plants vs Zombies 2 Review
The battle for garden supremacy spills across time in this sequel to the popular iPhone and iPad game
It might sound the most unlikely of rivalries, but the battle in the yard between plants and zombies has captured the imagination, and has returned for a much-anticipated sequel.
This time around things are a little different, with so much more scale to the game – rather than taking place around your virtual ‘home’ you take off on an adventure through time along with Crazy Dave and his talking camper van. There is an almost board game format to the game’s layout, with levels needing to be completed before you can move forward in a world. Speaking of worlds, there are three iconic time periods to do battle in, starting in Ancient Egypt, before moving to the 18th Century and the pirate-laden high seas before finishing in the Wild West.
Of course it’s not as simple as just passing each level and moving on to the next, Plants vs Zombies 2 asks you to gather stars in order to unlock the star gates that lead to new worlds. In order to get stars players have to go back and repeat completed levels, meeting gradually more difficult objectives to work your way up to the maximum three stars per level. As well as this, players can look out for keys that unlock alternative paths on your route through the game, and these lead to bonus levels with specific parameters; ranging from a certain set of plants to use, to producing a set amount of sun and beyond – and stars are also on offer here.
Suddenly this universe feels a whole lot bigger and that is a very good thing. This sequel feels more engaging than the original, and with zombies unique to each world there is far more variety to your enemy than previously, making for a more exciting experience. Look out for zombies protected by Egyptian tombs, undead swashbucklers and Stetson-wearers across the different settings, as well as some cool traits like certain Egyptian zombies being able to lure away your sun. Also be on the lookout for the ‘endless’ levels that appear at the end of each world, where players can try and survive level after level, carrying resources through each battle, and any lawnmowers that survive. It’s another dimension to the game, and provides a break from the traditional structure of things.
It’s pretty clear that a lot of effort has been made to ensure that this sequel offers more, and that all the anticipation around it will be backed up. The original Plant vs Zombies was and remains one of the shining examples of what makes mobile gaming great – a simple setup and objectives, engaging visuals and that flurry of screen tapping that is inevitable when a game has completely grabbed you.
On the subject of screen interactivity, it’s worth highlighting another interesting aspect of the gameplay that has been tweaked for Plants vs Zombies 2, where players can now, if you have the in-game coins to afford it, jump in and use your fingers to take out zombies yourself. There are three new power-up options that allow you to use gestures to soften up incoming waves. Combine these with the Plant Food upgrades that give individual plants epic attacks, and this suddenly feels a lot less tower defence, and more offence.
The only sticking point for certain users will be the in-app purchases, a mobile gaming structure that continues to gripe with some. The bottom line in relation to Plants vs Zombies 2 is that it’s more than possible to be able to play through the whole game without having to ever visit the store. Fans of the series will be disappointed to see some old favourites behind the paywall, but the added dimensions of this sequel soften the blow significantly. In fact, there is even the argument that playing through without turning to real money is the better option for the average gamer, as with infinite power-ups and plant food, even the most intense zombie wave can be swotted away, and that misses the point of what Plants vs Zombies is all about.
It’s taken its time to arrive, but Plants vs Zombies 2 has made step-ups in the right places, and takes a great series forward.
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