Plants vs Zombies 2 is PopCap’s long awaited sequel now available on iOS. It’s a tower defense game that looks very much like the original, everything is just sleeker, smoother and sumptuous. It is a free to play title with in-game purchases, but at no point did I feel any pressure to spend any money. Spending money will speed up the game slightly and six plants are only available in the store, but neither of these are required to enjoy the game.
The basic style is the same as the original, zombies approach in six lanes and it’s up to me to pick a selection of plants to prevent them from reaching the end of the lane. More plants and levels are unlocked by playing and I really enjoyed the variety of plants available, however for many levels I stuck with my trusted line-up that didn’t actually change that much from the first instalment, despite the plants being slightly different.
A small note that does not really impact on the game, but is useful to know if you plan to play on multiple devices. Save files are device specific, as you would expect, so if you are playing on a tablet and phone, the game will not sync and progress on each is independent.
Plants vs Zombies 2 is very accessible if you have photophobia, motion sickness, blurred vision, visual loss or a colour vision deficiency. It has almost no flicker, flash or other bright visual effects. It is played on a static screen and has no obvious motion sickness triggers. The menu system and user interface (UI) is well designed and uses standard text size. The game menu can be zoomed in, but the UI is static. Audio cues are helpful and there is no reliance on colour alone.
I played it as easily without sound as with it. The detailed graphics and animations provide all the information necessary to enjoy PvZ2 to its full extent. What little dialogue there is takes place in text pop-up boxes. Music and sound effects can be controlled independently and when I did use the audio cues, turning off the music helped a great deal to make it easier to hear.
It is currently available on iOS devices and being able to use a touch screen is a set requirement. The main controls are tapping and some swiping. Finger pinches to zoom makes it easier to see finer details, but zooming is not required. Three special abilities are available that require more intricate touch screen controls like picking things up and throwing them, but these are not designed to be used regularly. They are costly and only used in a pinch once or twice on difficult levels. The third special ability is the easiest to execute, it requires dragging your finger across the zombies on the screen and I have only been using it and never felt that I was missing out by not using the other two.
It cannot be played on pause and although I could plan ahead most of the time, moments do come up where frantic tapping is needed to succeed in dealing with a rush of zombies. Some precision is required to place plants on the correct tile and on the smaller screen of an iPhone, the squares are pretty small. The buttons are even smaller and the pause menu buttons in particular is very narrow and can be incredibly difficult to press. The pause button in game is tiny and in the top right corner which I found quite hard to use well.
PvZ2 is a tower defense hybrid that relies quite heavily on cognitive skills. There are a number of plants and enemies each with a unique ability and it is vital to remember which plants and zombies do what exactly. There is no real requirement for language, the little that is used is part of a visual menu that also have icons and the flimy humourous back-story, entirely irrelevent, takes place in one liner pop-up boxes. Basic numeracy is key as the premise of the game is collecting sunflowers as currency and then spending it wisely to create the best defenses. There are also four currencies in the game, one of which is real money spent at the in-game store. There is an in-game tutorial that works very well to introduce players to new concepts and there is also an index of plants, zombies and upgrades to refresh your memory.
I have always been a huge Plants vs Zombies fan and this sequel has delivered many pleasurable hours of taking out zombies with an arrangement of plants. The music is just as good and very similar to the first, the graphics are similar, but more detailed and improved quality, the game play is exactly as I remembered it and Dave’s still there.
There are many similarities, the new plants are very similar and sometimes the same, the maps are basically the same and the zombies look a little different and a act a little different, but they’re still the iconic PvZ zombies. This allows for a great trip down memory lane whilst facing some new challenges for fans, but it is also a well packaged standalone title that does not require any previous experience. I am still replaying maps for additional stars and don’t see myself putting it down for a good few weeks to come. It is a beautiful game and also very accessible across the board.
[stars rating=”4″ type=”Game”]