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Et tu, PopCap: Plants Vs Zombies vs in-app purchases

Nate Ralph | Aug. 19, 2013
Plants versus Zombies 2 is great. It's in-app purchases threaten all of that.

You can also pay to avoid a hefty amount of repetition: the new time periods are locked behind "star gates," so you'll need to hoard stars by playing new challenges on old stages before you can proceed. Or forking over five bucks. To be fair, the nature of Plants versus Zombies' gameplay means that "stages" are mere backdrops, and no level ever feels the same. But the first game kept things moving at a refreshing pace: a few levels in the backyard begets a night zone with new plants begets a new play dynamic with aquatic-zombies, before heading to the roof for an entirely different experience. Quaint as the Plant versus Zombies 2 experience is, you'll get sick of hanging around Egypt before too long.

This could have been much worse: consider SimCity or Real Racing, series that could once do no wrong rendered nigh unplayable or cynically expensive by decisions aimed at converting every moment of our entertainment into cold hard cash.

In Plants versus Zombies 2 we're never nagged to spend money, or forced to pay to make progress or post quips to Facebook in exchange for extra sunshine or whatever. It's far more insidious than that, as the very essence of the game involves separating the wheat from the proverbial chaff.

"Core" gamers will have their challenge, with a decidedly brisker pace than the original game and challenges to play over and over and occasionally, over again until they've perfected their build order. The casual gamer, otherwise known as the family member or friend we introduced the original game to, might instead feel a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps they'll shell out some cash on powerups to beat a level or two. Or maybe they'll chuckle at the comical narrative and set the game aside—it was free, after all—wondering what the heck all the fuss was about.

Don't think twice about grabbing this game (unless you don't own an iOS device, natch). It's incredibly fun, and free, and well worth your time. But its in-app purchases are worryingly over-priced, and while seasoned gardeners won't have much trouble, I worry about the precedence it sets.


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