The zombie thing isn’t overdone, not when it comes to Plants vs Zombies. It starts with a simple premise: keep those zombies off your lawn. Or in this case, keep them off whatever property you happen to be protecting. The original was released on every platform imaginable, so if you haven’t played this charming game yet, you should remedy that right now. It may seem just like another simple little tower-defense game, but with its adorable cartoony graphics and creative garden supplies, you’ll be hooked instantly.
Plants vs Zombies 2: It's About Time by Popcap Games builds upon the original, with redrawn visuals, new plants, new zombies, new worlds, and it is also... free! Well, mostly. They have to monetize somehow and we’ll get into that more later. But when it launches, it’s all yours for zero dollars.
It's literally about time
Though the game may not need it since its strength is in the gameplay, there is a story to Plants vs Zombies 2. Crazy Dave, from the previous game returns and is really into tacos. Like, obsessed about them. After he eats one, he realizes he wants another taco. The exact same one. So the only way to do that is to build a time machine (of course). With the help of a time machine named Penny, he decides to go back in time about 5 minutes, prior to eating this delicious taco.
Things don’t exactly go according to plan, so instead of jumping back a few minutes, he winds up in Ancient Egypt. Oops. You’ll not only be able to tackle some mummified zombies, you’ll be taking a tour of the Pirate Seas in the 1600s and the Wild West. All this for one stinkin’ taco.
There are going to be three different times available at launch
As we mentioned before, you’ll be traveling through three different eras right at launch. Popcap has already said that they will be continuously releasing new locations and items after launch but you’ll start off with these three. Instead of a lawn, you’re fending off mummies on the sand. Instead of a lawnmower you get a sand vacuum.
Each era will have different map layouts as well. Ancient Egypt swaps grass with sand, but when you head to the Pirate Seas, you and the zombies will be on different ships with a plank in between to plant stuff in. New items and enemies types will gradually be introduced. The Wild West will have its own themed map with rails and a mine cart. Instead of being able to plant anywhere, you can only plant on the mine cart but you can slide it around on screen.
It’s free to play...
Mostly. While you don’t need to buy anything to complete the game, there will be “premium” items to purchase that can help you get through the game. The game will be available to download for free when it launches and future updates and additional content will also be free.
We don’t have details as to how much these microtransactions will cost, but we’re hoping we don’t wind up in some kind of pay to win scenario where it’s too hard and you’d rather pay a dollar just to get past one level.
There are a variety of new plants
You’ll see some familiar vegetation like the peashooter and sunflower, but since the day night cycle has been taken out of the sequel, there are no mushrooms in the game. That doesn’t mean they can’t add it in, but it does mean that you don’t have to worry about managing any fungi. Don’t be too sad, though, they have added chili bean. Chili beans zombies monstrous gas to the point where it’ll let out a massive fart, die, and then stun everyone behind it.
Some other less foul additions include stacking up your peas into a peapod (up to 5) and a coconut cannon that you can tap to shoot but has a cool-down mechanic. Spring beans can be planted in hopes that an unsuspecting zombie will walk over it, and then throw it overboard. That means you likely should be planting it in a strategic location. Our favorite by far though, was the mean-looking bonk choy, a melee plants that will punch repeatedly at any zombie that comes near it.
Plant food lets you supercharge your turrets
Plants need more than just water and sunshine. Plant food is available off certain zombies which will give certain veggies a big boost. The happy little peashooter will turn into a hyperactive machine-gun shooter for about 5 seconds. Wall-nuts will be armored to prevent itself from being eaten. Not all plants get a bonus from plant food, but we’re looking forward to experimenting.
Power-ups will also be available when you’re in a pinch. Using your fingers on the iPad you can actually pinch the heads off of zombies. When activated you only get a certain amount of time to decapitate as many as you can. Another power-up is the power toss, where you flick zombies into the air and then again to fling them off the board. Just be sure to fling them to the right, you don’t want them to actually come closer. The final power up is the power zap, which electrocutes zombies in an arc.
The controls have been revamped for touch devices
There’s going to be a lot more going on the iPad screen than just planting vegetables. The controls have been redone to give you the ability to swipe across the screen to collect all the sun. No more poking around your iPad screen frantically trying to collect sunshine.
As we mentioned with the power-ups, you can pinch zombies and toss them around. Seems like there is more variety this time around when it comes to interacting with the enemy.
There's an overworld
One big change is that instead of conquering each level one map at a time, now you have an overworld map to see your progression. As you make your way through the story, which includes about 60+ levels, you’ll unlock new objectives to complete. Within each challenge there are star objectives you can hit to unlock other parts of the map.
Part of the reason why Popcap went with this structure was because a lot of people didn’t realize there was other content in the first Plants vs Zombies outside of adventure mode. Now the map will show you everything and you can see your progression. Collecting keys that get dropped will give you access to other branches of the map, so there’s some incentive to poke around a bit.
Zombies are themed to their era
You have your basic brown coat zombie and bucket head zombie, but each world will introduce five to six new zombie types. We didn’t get to see any since we didn’t get a lot of hands on time, but we were told that there will be plenty of new faces.
Even though you won’t see the return of disco zombie, some will behave like the undead you're familiar with, but with a new getup...like a poncho. Or a piano. They also mentioned something about zombie chickens...
That’s all the info we were able to get on Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time. It’s coming out in July 18 for the iPad and will likely be making its way to various platforms so you can’t miss it. There will be more PvZ-related news coming out of E3 so be sure to check out our E3 page for more info.
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