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So when the news about the Plants vs. Zombies sequel first out, you could almost hear the chorus of whoops and “hellz yeah!” from fans the world over.  And when the release date dropped, the Australia-only availability didn’t stop the league of loyal followers worldwide from scouring the web for ways to get ahold of the game.

 

As of this writing PvZ2 has been made available worldwide.  Well, not quite: the game is available only to Mac and iOS users.   So I write this as an Android user who had to borrow someone else’s iPad to play the game.  Boo.

 

With the kind of hype that the game has earned, the first question (after “WHERE CAN I GET IT?! WHERE?!”) is if it’s actually worth the attention and the PR build-up.

 

It goes beyond your backyard.

The setting of the first game begins with the backyard, and the furthest you got was your rooftop.  This time, the time-travel theme takes you to Ancient Egypt, the Wild West, and a pirate ship out at sea.  The zombies are decked out with new outfits and new powers.  Nice change, to be honest.  The core of the gameplay stays the same, which is good.

 

It’s pay to play (more).

Some explanation is needed here.  Unlike before, the game itself is free this time.  The problem is some of the plants you’ve come to depend on aren’t.  These include the Snow Pea, the Torchwood, the Squash, and the Jalapeno (among others).  Choosing to buy them all would cost about the same amount as the first game (about $20).  You have new free plants to work with, but still, I’d pick a pea-shooter that slows down an oncoming zombie hoard over a Chinese cabbage dealing punches.  I suppose that with piracy being a constant threat, this was EA Games’ way to make sure their coffers stay full.  Makes sense for them; a bummer for us though.

 

It’s harder.

PVZ2 is naturally harder owing to the new requirements needed to ace the game.  Don’t let zombies trample on the flowers.  Don’t lose more than 2 plants.  Don’t lose any of the lawn mowers.  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  If you’re up for the challenge, then enjoy.  Just know that you’re going to have to do this with some plants missing from your usual arsenal (unless you’re willing to shell out some cash).

 

It looks better.

No question, the UI has improved.  More texture, more dimension, smoother animation.  All with no extra cost (kinda).

 

You can replay stages.

It’s pretty much how it reads.  For whatever reason you may have, you can revisit past stages unlike PvZ1.  Want more coins?  Go back and replay the last few stages.  Need a key to open a locked stage?  Go back and keep playing the last few stages until one pops out (randomly, by the way).

 

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Overall, PvZ2 is a combination of improvements and setbacks, the most glaring being the change to the in-app-purchase (“freemium”) model.  All things considered, however, PvZ2 earns its stripes as a worthy sequel to its predecessor: improved gameplay, leveled-up experience, and more challenges than the first one.

 

I say go download the game, and go buy the extra plants if you’d like (although if you’re good enough, you won’t need them).

 

Hats off to PopCap and EA for the game.  But for goodness’ sake, come out with an Android version already.