The second game in the Plants vs. Zombies franchise is much like the first. Which is to say that it is a fun and engaging twist on the tower defense game genre.
Basic premise: You have to plant flora to defend your suburban bungalow against a zombie horde. Like in the first game you have lethal lawnmowers as a last line of defence in the event you’re being overrun.
The lovable, gobbledygook-speaking Crazy Dave is back as your guide through the game, and also provides the rationale for the “time” theme of PvZ 2. At the beginning of the game he eats a taco and enjoys it so much he wants to eat it again. That’s where Penny, the camper-on-the-back-of-a-truck time machine, comes in.
There are some 84 levels here, set in Ancient Egypt (40 levels), Pirate Seas (22 levels), and Wild West (22 levels). The new environments provide inspiration for new zombies, like the Eyptian headdress-wearing zombie carrying the wand that will absorb your sun energy if you don’t tap it quickly enough.
One difference here is in how the levels are presented. In PvZ 2, you navigate through a map, similar to a Super Mario Bros. game. You’ll unlock new plants as you advance through the levels. New plants include iceberg lettuce, which freezes zombies that step on it, and snapdragons, which cast a wall of flame across three rows.
A new addition to your planting tactics includes plant food, which provides your flora with a short-term boost. The peashooter, for example, gains rapid fire for a few seconds and fires off enough peas to take out a bucket-headed zombie.
You can use coins earned by taking out zombies to purchase plant food at the beginning of levels, and also pick them up from glowing zombies that drop loot once they are destroyed. You can also use coins to purchase upgrades and boosts, like “power toss” that allows you to flick a zombie into the air.
The difficulty seems to ramp up a bit more quickly than with the first game, and there’s more happening on the screen, so you really need to focus. A good example is Bloomerangs, one of the new plants in your arsenal, that throw boomerangs that zip down the yard and back again. When you get more than one in a row there’s lots of movement on screen that can be distracting.
The different modes of play, like the stage where you need to use plants from a conveyor to defend against an attack, are now built in to the regular game flow, instead of being in a separate menu.
The biggest difference with PvZ 2 is that it won’t cost you anything to play it. PopCap decided to turn the game free-to-play so the download is free, and you can choose to spend real money to purchase coins as well as to get early access to plants and other eras.
But you don’t have to spend any money to play through the entire game. And you’ll have more fun doing so.