Plants vs. Zombies 2 (out now, FREE) will feel very familiar to those who have played the original game. The sequel comes with plenty of new content — think of it as a souped-up version of the original. Due to the new freemium model, however, the sequel simultaneously feels like both an upgrade and downgrade. Overall though, it’s a worthy successor to Plants vs. Zombies and makes for plenty of fun. Happily, you can get through most levels (possibly even all) without resorting to paying for IAP content.

pvz2-ios-embed2In Plants vs. Zombies 2, you’ll get to travel the world through time by taking a ride in Crazy Dave’s time-machine/motor home. From Ancient Egypt, you’ll proceed to defend the Pirate Seas, followed by the Wild West. You’ll have to earn stars and keys to unlock new levels, however.

The change of setting isn’t all that’s new here. Right from the start, you’re introduced to new plants: Cabbage-pults, which hurl cabbages; Bloomerangs, which fling boomerangs that can hit up to three targets twice; Bonk Choys that punch nearby enemies, whether in front or behind them; and Iceberg Lettuces, which freeze a zombie and explode in the process, but luckily cost no suns to plant. Many more powerful plants await unlocking.

There are also several power-ups to help you out during tough moments. The first is plant food, which grants a plant superpowers. A pea shooter turns into a fast pea-machinegun, while a sunflower suddenly becomes ultra productive. Most plants will only attack along their lane, but when fed plant food, a cabbage-pult will launch cabbages on several zombies on all lanes. You can either purchase plant foods with coins you earn during each game or earn them by killing glowing zombies. The former is costly, while the latter is of course a slower process.

plants_zombies_2_21You can also spend your coin stash on brief but godlike power-ups, which let you pinch the heads off zombies, flick them off the ground, or electrocute chains of them. These don’t come cheap either, but they can help you turn an otherwise dismal situation to a win. I found flicking to be the slowest and thus toughest to handle (because it appears you have to flick twice for each zombie), while pinching seemed the easiest.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 also introduces new game modes, which break the monotony of the regular defense game. For instance, there’s a card-matching game in which zombies will march in carrying cards, which you’ll flip by tapping. By matching two of the same images, you will eliminate both zombies. In another game mode, you won’t be able to select your plants. Instead, various plants will slowly be delivered one by one on a conveyor belt.

Altogether, Plants vs. Zombies 2 offers over sixty challenging levels, and more content will likely be delivered in future updates.

iFanzine Verdict: Plants vs. Zombies 2 is one of the best freemium games available, where patient gamers can play on and on without the need for costly IAPs. A paid version of the game would of course be preferable, but in the absence of that, there is little reason not to play this free sequel—especially if you’re a fan of the original title.