Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time….For a Second Look

Oct 14, 2013

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On August 15th, 2013, I begged for the privilege to review Plants vs. Zombies 2:  It’s About Time.  I loved PvZ1 so much that I beat the game multiple times on nearly every platform the game was available on.  I completed all bonus games and was near obtaining the platinum on the Vita (before THE incident).  As far as iOS games go, many games came and went, but PvZ1 was a game that I always came back to.

In retrospect, I should NOT have been the person to review Plants vs. Zombies 2.  I could not initially review this game.  My expectation level was too high coming off the first game.  I could not look at this game as its own game.  I was comparing everything PvZ2 was doing compared to what I thoroughly enjoyed about the first and was angry that they were doing it worse or not at all.  After a month and a half of continuing to peck away at PvZ2 (and collecting all of the stars currently available) I feel I can speak to the game, the perceived (and sometimes accurately perceived) issues with the game and if the game is still worth downloading and giving it a full effort.

A quick synopsis of the story:  Crazy Dave has lost his taco.  With the assistance of his sentient time machine RV, he travels through time to find the taco.  The travels take him through Ancient Egypt, pirate ships and the wild west.  SPOILER:  Coming soon is a futuristic level.  Each level has a somewhat unique situation, but essentially it is simply fighting zombies with plants.

I have previously provided my initial impressions on Geeks With Wives podcasts and on Twitter.  I would like to address my issues (as well as those of many reviews previously done):

Free-to-play format

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My initial impression of the free-to-play format adopted by PvZ2 was very negative.  A number of features I had come to expect with the first game were not available unless I paid to unlock them.  Many of the plants in the game were not available unless I paid for them.  Features such as unlocking more seed slots or the ability to heal walnuts were for sale.  A high amount of ads were popping up between levels.  I was not concerned that other players can pay to be better (as this is basically a single player experience), but my concern is that I would have to pay much more than you’d expect to pay for a full iOS game.

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Upon further play of the game my opinion was changed.  Many of the plants and game features were actually available to unlock with gameplay instead of cash only.  Simply replaying levels to obtain keys to bonus areas would reward you with plants you didn’t have previously, additional seed slots, ability to heal walnuts and many more.  Now I am at the point where I have enough plants and seed slots to have fun with the game and try to complete levels in different ways.  The number of ads has decreased significantly.  I am now at the point where the gameplay is enjoyable and the amount of reminders that I can pay for things in this game is very low.

Interaction between Crazy Dave and Penny (The sentient time-traveling RV)

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Many of the missions early on included interactions between Crazy Dave and Penny.  While the interactions were humorous at times, the inability to avoid the interaction when restarting a level caused me to be less interested and dislike any time Dave and Penny appeared on screen.

I enjoyed the times Crazy Dave spoke to me in PvZ1, but it was very small amounts.  Penny did not add more humor to conversations.  I am not sure if Crazy Dave is less humorous or if I am simply groaning more because of the amount of jokes.  The only saving grace is that there are fewer of these interactions as the game moves along.

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The gameplay is not very different from Plants vs. Zombies 1

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While the scenery changes and there are minor quirks to levels, you are essentially just planting plants and killing zombies.

I somewhat agree with this stance.  You have mostly the same plants, you collect sun and plant seeds that fit your current situation, but there are a number of gameplay changes.  With Plants vs Zombies 2, you do not have to deal with a pool, night time or placing pots on the roof for planting.  You have to deal with ancient tombs that block many attacks, tracks you can’t plant on except in 1 spot as well as other differences.  There are a few different types of zombies not found in the first game such as sun-stealing zombies and zombie chickens.  While there is nothing that gives a completely new experience, there are interesting little twists to the gameplay that I enjoyed in the first game.

At the end of the day, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a fun pick-up-and-play game when you do not have access to a console game.  The free-to-play structure does not take away from the ability to have fun.  The interactions between the games main “characters” is not good and in many cases it cannot be avoided, but the gameplay is worth the couple seconds it takes to get past the interactions.  There is built-in replay ability (collecting stars on previously played levels and endless levels).  And maybe the best feature of Plants vs. Zombies 2 over PvZ1…NO ZEN GARDEN!

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