A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a tower defense strategy game that does contain some violence, but it's all done for comedic effect and in a campy manner. However, unlike the first game, this game has power-ups wherein a player does inflict violence by pinching the heads off zombies or electrocuting them with a finger. The silly premise of the first game (defend your house from a zombie attack using plants) is expanded as you travel back in time so your neighbor can enjoy a taco a second time, but you're once again forced to fight cone- and bucket-wearing zombies in a puzzle format. This version has in-app purchases, with the top expenditure being $99.99, but patient players can play through without spending a penny. Players can share high scores via the Game Center social network, but participation is optional.
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What's it about?
The zombies are coming again -- this time in three time periods, so you get to battle the undead in Ancient Egypt, on the Pirate Seas, and in the old Wild West. In each location, the zombies wear historically appropriate yet silly dress. Players must select a plant from a list at the side of the screen and plant it strategically to prevent a zombie from walking across the entirety of the screen. Different plants have different abilities -- from shooting peas to Wall-nuts that act as barricades to potato bombs that blow up when stepped on.
New to this sequel is the ability to upgrade plant forces with "plant food," which generally increases the rate of fire. (This can be bought or found during battles by dispatching glowing zombies.) Also new are power-ups that allow you to clear the screen of zombies by squeezing their heads off (by pinching the screen), tossing them off-screen (through a one-two finger swipe), and electrifying them (by dragging a finger across the screen). These power-ups also cost in-game coins. Cash-poor players can increase their stashes by using real money to buy additional in-game currency as in-app purchases.
Is it any good?
The key to the success of the original Plants vs. Zombies wasn't just the humor; it was the incredibly tight gameplay and the variety of plants. Thankfully, PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES 2 succeeds in replicating those aspects. The new plants (such as the Bloomerang, which throws boomerangs that return, letting you hit an opponent twice) are funny, and the plant food power-up is a master stroke. However, some of the levels are harder than ever before, tempting you to use the new plant food and power-ups. If you don't have enough money to activate them, a pop-up asking you to buy shows up and interrupts your battle.
Plants vs. Zombies 2 is really fun to play. The new plants and zombies are inventive and wonky as ever. However, some of the prices for in-app purchases are unreasonable ($99.99), so parents will want to double-check that they have turned off in-app purchases and disabled the 15-minute window-to-purchase without the need for a password. In-app purchases aren't essential, something bound to assuage the fears of people who thought EA and PopCap might be going for a cash grab with this game. Though you can pay to unlock items and levels, persistent players won't have to, as the entire game is playable with skill. It just might take you a bit longer to access some levels, particularly in the Pirate World. It is a game worth playing, particularly if you're a Plants vs. Zombies fan.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Skills: Emotional Development: handling stress, persevering
Thinking & Reasoning: prediction, strategy
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: August 15, 2013
- Category: Strategy Games
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Size: 44.70 MB
- Publisher: PopCap
- Version: 1.1.233714
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 5.1 or later; Android 2.3. and up
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