It’s Crazy Dave’s fault. The tinpot-hatted neighbour from the original Plants vs. Zombies likes tacos so much he’s whisked you back in time just so he can eat the same taco he already wolfed down. Unfortunately, said time machine has taken you and Crazy Dave too far back in time. Cue Plants vs. Zombies 2's quest to get back to the future and locate that taco while fending off cartoon zombies in Ancient Egypt, the pirate-ridden seas of the 18th Century and the Wild West.
Despite the switch from suburbia to historical settings, Plants vs. Zombies 2 sticks to the original’s winning real-time strategy formula. The goal is to stop advancing zombies from snacking on your brains by planting an arsenal of quirky veg.
Each type of plant eats up a different amount of the sun you generate from sunflowers so spending wisely is the difference between survival and ending up on a zombie BBQ. Luckily there are plenty of new pun-tastic plants and zombies, from boxing bok choys to barrel-rolling undead pirates, to keep things feeling fresh.
Plants vs. Zombies 2 isn’t just a re-skin of the original, though, as there are plenty of new features to liven up the zombie-bashing fun. First up is the arrival of plant food for your plants. Supplies of plant food get dropped when green zombies bite the dust under your barrage of cabbages and peas, and can be applied to give individual plants super powers that range from covering your zombie-blocking Wall-Nuts in armour to briefly turning bog-standard Peashooters into pea-launching miniguns, just the ticket for saving the day when overwhelmed by the undead hordes.
Another addition to the mix is special moves that allow players to intervene directly in the fight for the first time. In return for some of the coins you collect from defeated zombies (or bought via an in-app purchase) you get to employ some devastating finger magic on the rotters.
These include flicking them off screen, electrocuting them by tracing a line with your digit or – our favourite – snapping off their heads with a precise pinch. All of which work a treat and are addictively pleasing, if expensive, to use.
Layers of gameplay
The final big change is that Plants vs. Zombies 2 is less linear, more varied and deeper than its predecessor. Each time zone takes place on a map with unlockable branches that offer extra missions with bonus plants and items. Each mission comes with multiple, extra challenging versions where you must also meet specific goals, such as not letting any plants get eaten by zombies. Every time you finish the main missions of each map you also get access to a new set of challenge missions that really test out your mettle. All of which adds up to a game with oodles of replay value.
Free to play
By now you might have noticed that Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a free game that hopes to earn its keep by getting players to splash out on in-app purchases of extra coins, plant food or instant access to later missions. That did have us worried that the game would be designed to leave players with little option but to pay to progress but, much like Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies 2 avoids this mistake and delivers an experience that is fair throughout while also letting the really impatient/frustrated/minted players buy their way to success.
The first Plants vs. Zombies was a fantastic game and quite rightly a massive hit. Plants vs. Zombies 2 is even better, delivering the same tongue-in-cheek charm and gameplay magic while mixing in just enough new features and twists to make it as fresh as an iceberg lettuce. And since it costs nothing, unless you know you can’t resist splashing out on in-app purchases when they’re presented, there’s really no excuse not to help Crazy Dave out on his paradoxical culinary quest.
Download it here.