Sunday, September 8, 2013

Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time!

I've been looking forward to this game for years. I played the original Plants vs. Zombies after my boyfriend suggested I play a demo on my laptop and I got completely hooked. In the following months, my friends and the rest of the world also got hooked on the adorable art, cheerful music, and addictive game play on eventually almost every platform imaginable. It's won a slew of video game awards and everyone from casual to hardcore gamers have played and enjoyed this lighthearted game. Right now, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is only available at the iTunes store for free. We'll return to this later.

The game play is very fun. It has all the old mechanics paired with new situations, new mechanics, new game modes, new plants, new zombies, and new backdrops. It makes the game new again and not just the same old stuff from the previous one. The story line is silly. Crazy Dave wants to go back in time to eat his taco again, so he and his talking time machine car take you to Ancient Egypt because Dave's crazy. The backdrops in ancient Egyptian style and even the lawnmowers are decorated with pyramids. New zombies include sandstorm zombies, zombies protected by tiles, sarcophagus zombies, explorer zombies, and mummies. New plants include Bloomerang, Coconut Canon, and Iceberg Lettuce with old favorites returning. The other two worlds are pirate and cowboy themed. I just find the whole thing charming, silly, and super fun to play. One of the new mechanics I like is the plant food that when given to a plant makes it perform a much more powerful, far reaching version of its usual ability. The other new thing I'm a little iffy on is powerups using the touch screen to electrify, send zombies flying, or pinch their heads off. It's interesting, but I would not like to personally use it because it is too powerful. It also costs in game coins to use, which I simply opt not to.

This brings us to my huge problem with the game. The game is completely free to download and play, but to unlock certain plants and large spaces of the world, real money is needed to unlock them. It's not just a little bit either. It costs $2.99 per plant and so far there are 6 plants available that can't be obtained through free game play. As the ads shove in your face, you can buy packages of coins, upgrades to the game (such as starting with 25 energy or an extra seed slot), or you can buy bundles that pair some of these things together. I hate this type of game. You basically have to spend endless hours slogging through insanely hard levels because you don't have the more powerful plants to unlock them or pay money around $25 to unlock everything in this level. To get to another world, you either spend $5 or 25 stars in game that are extremely hard and time consuming to get. I assume other levels unlock more plants, prompting more money to be spent.

This is completely disingenuous to the fans of the game. I would rather just pay the $20 for the PC version and have the full game to play with than be prompted to spend much more than that and have extremely limited access in the worlds if I refuse. This new version of the game can be attributed to EA buying Popcap and using the same money grubbing antics that have ruined other games. This is a casual game. Hardcore gamers may be happy spending hours upon hours earning passage to other worlds and plants, but many of the target audience won't find the game fun because of this. I am not a great video game player and I'm not frankly don't have the time or interest to do this. The mere fact that the entire game is not available without loads of real money is ridiculous to me. (Just a tip: Disable downloads for the game to ensure that you won't accidentally buy any of the upgrades if you aren't interested.)

The other thing I find saddening is that Plants vs. Zombies 2 does not feature the music of Laura Shigihara that made Plants vs. Zombies such a success. Her themes are remixed in different styles to reflect the levels (pirate and ancient Egyptian). It seems the remixing and additional music (written to mimic Shigihara's style) were done by an unnamed third party because I haven't been able to find any mention of the composer anywhere. It's just not the same without her wonderful music.

The game play is fun, addicting, and everything I wanted it to be. EA's moneygrabbing ploys are incredibly annoying and undermines the spirit of the game. I hope there will be a full PC version with access to the full version. If all versions of the game have similar tactics, then I'm done. Until then, I will continue to play the game for free until I can longer go forward without paying and then delete it.

My rating:

Game play: 5/5
EA, ads, and want for $$$: 1/5

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