Break Out Your Shovels, It’s Zombie Smashin’ Time!

PVZ2icon copyAhh … after a brief departure to the Mac, it’s back to some good ol’ iOS gaming. And what better way to kick it off than with Plants vs. Zombies 2! However, it looks like my 3GS (which I’ve lovingly nicknamed “ye olde smartphone”) may start collecting a little dust.

Luckily this is not a web series, or you’d see me drooling over and hugging my iPad, which I’ll be doing a few reviews on from now on to make sure the iPad gaming scene gets some love. So pick your plants, get your sun smashing fingers ready, and let’s get it on!

So admission time: I didn’t play the first Plants vs. Zombies so go ahead and cringe. I did, however, put quite a few hours of gameplay into the minigame based on it, inside of World of Warcraft. That counts, right? Right? OK, now that I’ve destroyed any street cred I have for comparing this game to its predecessor let’s dive into what makes this game a solid title.

Great splash screen except for maybe the facial expression on that walnut. Thanks for the nightmares, PopCap!

Great splash screen except for maybe the facial expression on that walnut. Thanks for the nightmares, PopCap!

So, I sort of knew what to expect, but I was surprised to see characters, storyline, and some sort of a plot. Sure it involves some guy with a space age talking RV in search of his taco, but hey, that’s a good… start? So, we flew through time with his Tardis on wheels, and landed in the desert. Not the most logical place to find plants… and I’m pretty sure I’m planting my botanical army on sandstone, but sure, I’ll go with it. The premise of the game stayed the same from the original title; make plants, collect sunlight, and smash zombies. But now you have a guy named Crazy Dave, talking to a car, and complaining about his lost taco.

I’ve always wanted a lettuce-apult!

I’ve always wanted a lettuce-apult!

After clearing the entire desert area, and being told, “Hey, you can go here now!” only to find out I didn’t have enough stars to proceed (not of my own failure, you just don’t get enough by playing each level once. The game FORCES you to do a few of the challenges in the world before proceeding to the new area). Some of the challenges were pretty tough, ranging from “only use 12 plants” to “Hey! You can’t use the back two rows of the game board, enjoy!”.  Though quite honestly PopCap is a bunch of jerks for the challenge “Don’t let more than 2 plants die”. I mean seriously… 2 plants. Thanks.

What was really cool was the occasional bonus level that branched off the main linear path that had you doing things like planting things and waiting for solar power. These minigames kept me fresh-minded, and wanting to press on through the fun, albeit quite repetitive gameplay of PvZ2.

While I may not have personally enjoyed the title, truthfully I expected this. I am more of a hardcore gamer and this just simply isn’t my cup of tea. From an unbiased point of view, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a SOLID tower lawnmower-defense game, with tons of content to keep you busy. Do yourself a favor if you like this type of game, this is about the most solid one of its kind.

Even the walnuts are surprised I won this level.

Even the walnuts are surprised I won this level.

Rating-Bar4Graphics:

I think we’ve all figured out that I’m a sucker for vector styled clean graphics on the mobile gaming platforms. And it’s true. When you’re dealing with a smaller screen you’re going to want to keep things vibrant, and having that pop to them. So great job to PopCap, as always, in nailing the visuals on the mobile market. That being said, a little variance on each of the plants would be nice so that each iteration of my like-plants didn’t look identical would be that extra step most game developers just don’t take.

Rating-Bar3Gameplay:

After yawning my way through the first full world, I don’t think I’ll be returning to this one, it seems pretty much the same as the first, from what I’m told, and it’s just to repetitive for my liking. The first 60 seconds of EVERY level, is me collecting sun power, and planting 3 sunflowers. Every time. That’s not fun gameplay in my opinion.

Rating-Bar3Audio:

Oh, man. Whoever voiced over the weird taco-chasing time traveling guy may have also voiced over the Tasmanian Devil from loony tunes.  So, if you’re into that kind of thing, this is right up your alley, I guess? In general the audio in the game is fair.

Rating-Bar4Innovation:

Not a lot of games play like this, so congrats to PopCap for taking the tower defense genre and putting a new spin on it. While not a perfect five due to it being at its core a tower defense game, it does bring a lot of new things to the table. Very excited to see me have so many options for plants, but not being able to use them all in a single game. This lends to a lot of pre-game strategy, and anything that makes me think before I act is a great addition.

Rating-Bar3Overall:

Well, I was a little bored. Granted I’m not the average gamer, I did expect a little more. Perhaps I set my expectations so high since it’s been a long time since a Plants vs. Zombies game was released. PopCap took a detour and came out with versions for Nintendo DS and other consoles before coming back to its iOS home turf. Maybe that hurt the process. 


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