I’ve been a fan of the original Plants vs Zombies title for quite awhile, as it’s as one of the most simple and fun games I’ve ever played. So like everyone else that played it, I waited and waited for a sequel to come along. It took four years, but it’s here at long last in Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time. Featuring new plants, zombies, a time-travel element, being free-to-play and more, it seemed like the perfect sequel. Still, there are a few weeds that might leave some on the fence about the sequel.
The first couple of levels serve as an extended tutorial of sorts and introduces players to Crazy Dave, the aptly-named neighbor from the original game. After completing the tutorial section, he celebrates by enjoying a taco, but it turns out the taco was so delicious he decides to go back in time just so he can eat it again. He takes you along for the ride in his talking, time-traveling car, but goes too far back in time to ancient Egypt where you’ll have to once again use plants to fight off the mummified zombies there.
There’s three different worlds you’ll make your way through: Egypt, Pirates, and The Old West. Each world has plenty of levels to work your way through, and luckily you’ll come across some familiar plant buddies from the first title, along with some new ones such as bloomerangs, coconut cannons, iceberg lettuce, and spring beans just to name a few that will aid you in your quest. This is one of the few games where the touchscreen controls are practically perfect, as touching and dragging your plants to where you want them has never been easier. There’s also some pretty sweet upgrades and power-ups you can use now, like plant food that will give your plants temporary boosts. For example, feeding it to the sunflowers will cause them to give up tons of sun for you to use, or feeding the peashooters will morph them into machine gun-like shooters that will lay waste to anything in their way. There’s also other power-ups that you can purchase, such as one that will allow you to flick zombies off the screen with your finger, zap em with lightning and more. But this leads to some of the not-so-good features of the game.
First let’s address the elephant in the room, this being a “freemium” title. Now if you want, you don’t have to buy anything from the in-game store, making it a truly 100% free game. But the trick is that the difficulty has been ramped up quite a bit from the original title. So while hardcore gamers might not mind, casual gamers on the other hand will most likely get frustrated and turn to buying the extras such as suped up plants, coins, etc. For example, you need to collect a certain amount of the newly added stars while playing in order to unlock the next world, and the only way to do it is by completing difficult tasks in the new challenge levels. Doing these tasks such as “kill X amount of zombies” in a certains amount of time or “don’t use more than X amount of sun” over and over again to collect the stars is bound to piss off even the most hardcore of gamers out there. So while I do love the fact the game is free, making things difficult and frustrating to push most to spend $6 or more (you can easily blow a lot of cash if you’re not careful) is sure to put a lot of players on the fence about the overall experience here.
Back on the plus side, the graphics and animation have been greatly improved this time around, as everything looks and moves with the greatest of detail. Things such as the peashooters puffing up their cheeks before spitting, the shadows and shading on the plants, zombies and backgrounds makes everything just look plain better. The music and sounds are just as great, as most of them are reused from the original but still sound much improved as well.
While the ramped-up difficulty may push some to pay for in-app purchases may frustrate casual fans, Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time is still a fun and intimately playable title that everyone with an iOS device should experience, especially since it’s free. With new plants, zombies, and power-ups that are sure to bring a smile to your face as you play, fans of the original are bound to plant a victory garden with this release. Just be prepared to water it with cash.