iPhone App Video Review: Plants vs. Zombies™ 2

by Andrew Koziara

It's been a few years now since Plants vs. Zombies came along, completely revitalizing tower defense games and bothering to contextualize zombies in a game instead of just throwing them in for no reason. They actually suited the games mechanics perfectly. With all the humor and charm and creative plants, colorful visuals, and catchy background music, PopCap created a behemoth of an IP, and a rabid fanbase was soon screaming "Sequel! Sequel!" That sequel is here, and it couldn't be more aptly titled, Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time!

Yes, just as Om Nom recently took to traveling through time for Cut the Rope, the hilarious Crazy Dave, who takes on a more story driven role this game, transports you to ancient Egypt, pirate-infested Caribbean seas, and the old west. His mission? To eat that really good Taco he just ate a second time. While a lot of familiar faces and mechanics grace our lawns, there's a lot of new stuff too, from plant food boosts that will make one single plant of your choosing go beast mode for a while. That cabbage catapult super barrage will never get old.

The new locales of course bring with them appropriately themed enemies and mini-games, and oh lordy does this game have plenty of mini-games to enjoy, both old and new. I haven't found fan favorites like the Zen Garden or Survival mode yet, though. This being a free to play game with lots of in-app purchases, who knows what will show up down the line? Now, don't panic. You can indeed play the game without ever paying a cent. I'd rather have hurled a wad of cash at PopCap’s face for the game upfront, but this'll have to do.

The coins that you collect are no longer used to purchase new plant types or upgrades. Now, those are all seeded in a new sub-game that is a Super Mario Bros. 3 like level map, with cordoned off areas that must be accessed with keys and such. Coins, instead, are used to buy plant food, and god-like power-ups that you can employ in a pinch. Sadly, there are some plants that seem to be in-app purchases  only, including fan favorites like the Jalapeno and Torchwood.

With PopCap and EA at the helm of this massive sequel, I don't need to tell you that the visuals had all the funding they needed to become as crisp and excellent as they needed to be. This game is beautiful, and I'm kind of sad I won't be able to play it on my PC any time soon. It's a very different formula this time around, as far as unlocking content and progression goes. I mean, you pretty much have to perfect an area before you can move on to the next, unless you want to pay for early access, which I really don't mind.

While the presence of so many IAP options leaves a blemish on the shiny polished surface that is this game, it doesn't ruin it. This is the same core game we all know and love, but iterated upon in some interesting new ways. Definitely don't skip it, since it's totally free anyway. Only someone whose brains have already been eaten by zombies or something would do that. In which case, I'd say you probably should've played the first game a long time ago.