Earlier this month, PopCap announced existence of the long waited sequel of its popular zombie tower defence title called Plant Vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time.
Although Plants Vs. Zombies 2 still largely consists of the original title's gameplay — the player defending their homes from zombies that lurched across horizontal lanes of grass — but the levels progress along a campaign thread.
"In Plants Vs. Zombies, there are a lot of secondary moves and a lot of ways to play that don't get revealed later until you beat the core game," senior producer Allen Murray told Polygon. "What we noticed was most people don't actually finish the whole story and see everything. So what we wanted to do is take that story mode or the adventure mode and put on on this main thread, so that there are eleven or 10 days [levels] that will allow you to get to the jump gate into the next era."
The brain-frazzled neighbour, Crazy Dave, makes a return in the sequel as a guide and shopkeeper for special plant upgrades, tools and weapons. The story starts with Dave, who is still holding the taco he bought from the last game. He eats the taco and loves it so much that he uses his time travel camper van, Penny, in an attempt to get another one. A mishap happens and the player ends up in ancient Egypt, where the adventure begins.
There will be four unlockable worlds when the game rolls out: Egyptian, Western, present day and retro space. According to the game's senior producer Allen Murray, PopCap aims to roll-out a new world for free every three months. Every theme-world features the core zombies but they get re-themed for each level.
The game introduces eight new zombies per level and new plants. All of the old favourites and new zombies, including a chicken throwing zombie, to an undead character that plays Western music on a piano, which summons a horde of zombies.
Through the new free-to-play model, the game allows players to dispatch zombies with special paid abilities. Players can flick zombies away with a swipe of a finger, electrocute them by pressing on a zombie and pinch off a zombie's head by making a tweezing motion. With a new mechanic called Plant Food, players are able to temporially upgrade plants with overpowered abilities, with the exception of the chili and cherry bomb because they explode immediately. For instance, giving a sunflower plant food will instantly award a whole bunch of sun. Plant food is dropped during levels or can be bought; however, remaining plant food does not roll over with each level.
"There are gates within the different eras. We've introduced these gates, these branches, that allow us to introduce the player to what we call 'Brain Busters,' where we adjust the rules slightly, to introduce new ways to play the game. These are nodes can unlock new plants as well." Murray said. "For example, a mechanic that I really like is mine carts where you can plant on a cart and then slide your plant up and down. So basically you have this roving machine gun. But you can not plant on the rails themselves." In an other example, player is granted three replanted sunflowers but if they die, the game is over.
PopCap maintains that the title is not -pay-to-win, the pay for items are only there to offer the player crazy abilities and not create a payment barrier to win. The whole game can be be played without spending any money, although it will take longer. EA and PopCap are still settling the in-game cost of the special abilities. A trial of the game and its paid abilities will roll out to Australian and New Zealand soon for four weeks. PopCap will analyse the results, adjust and will roll-out the game worldwide on July 18 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It will launch on Android devices at a later date.