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imagesExcitement builds as days close in. On July 18, PopCap, a division of Electronic Arts (EA) is releasing Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time! A play on words, the time reference in the name of the game is a gentle jab at how long it’s taken the studio to create the game, as well a reference to time travel, which plays a huge role in its storyline.

Redesigned from the ground up, Plants vs. Zombies 2 offers similar gameplay to its predecessor, while bringing a number of new places and new experiences into the mix.

Similar to the original Plants vs. Zombies, Plants vs. Zombies 2 will get you defending your turf against the zombies.

While the original game takes place on the lawn of your home, the sequel takes place in a number of different locations: Ancient Egypt, a Pirate Ship, and the Wild West.

The story behind the game is that Crazy Dave really wants a taco. Specifically, he wants the same taco you sold him in the original game. Desperate to get his hands on it, Dave gets in a time machine and tries to go back in time to eat it again. Unfortunately for Dave, he overshoots a bit and instead ends up in Ancient Egypt.

Gameplay starts off in Ancient Egypt. Much like other games, you collect stars as you play each level. Stars in this case, however, can be used to unlock the time portal – which happens to be in the shape of a star – to the next world.

Much like the original game, each level in a world increases in difficulty. Unlike the original game, levels are represented on a map that you can navigate through (and pick and choose the board you want to play). The bonus mini games – one of my personal favorite parts of the original – are a side road on the map’s path. Each world has three almost identical mini-games, each with a slightly more difficult goal in mind, for instance you might need to score 20k points rather than the 10k you needed on the first board in the sequence.

New Plants

While your old favorites like the pea shooter, and watermelon catapult are still included in Plants vs. Zombies 2, the real fun comes in some of the new plants that have made their way into the game.

The Bloomerang. A flower of sorts, shoots out boomerangs to attack the zombies. Since they’re boomerangs, they hit a zombie on their way out like a pea might from a peashooter, but also on their return back to the plant, so you get two hits for the price of one.

A new Snapdragon plant in the game functions like an actual dragon, breathing fire on the three tiles around it as zombies approach, and Bonkchoy is a cabbage with an attitude who gives zombies the old one two punch when they get too near.

The new Moves

More than just new plants, Plants vs. Zombies 2 also has a number of new ways you can interact with those plants, and even the zombies, as you play.

If you played the first version of the game, you’re probably familiar with zombies that drop coins. Zombies in Plants vs. Zombies 2 drop coins, but they also drop plant food as well. Plant food can be used only in the level where you pick it up, and can supercharge your plants for a few seconds. The Snapdragon, for instance, incinerates the area in front on him, and Bloomerang sends out a machine gun-style attack of boomerangs both horizontally and vertically that takes out almost anything in their path.

New finger powers in the game also give you the ability to pinch, flick and zap zombies, a feature that definitely comes in handle when you find yourself in the middle of a huge attack.

A Living Game

While Plants vs. Zombies 2 plans to launch with 3 new worlds, those three are only the beginning. It is said that they plan to update the game with new worlds over time, making the game something you can continue to come back to and enjoy.

Also different with Plants vs. Zombies 2, the game will be free. You can reach each level of the game without paying for anything; however, certain power-ups and feature will be available for gamers who want to spend a little cash through in-app purchases.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 hits the App Store on July 18, with a release on Google Play to follow afterwards.

Credit: Mashable