1 2 More than four years after PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies graced our computers and bridged the gap between casual and hardcore gaming audiences, a proper sequel has been released. Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time became available in North America before midnight last night, and if the free-to-play, cash shop nature of the game has you on the fence about sinking all of your time into it, we’re here to help you make that decision.After I beat the original PvZ and its more difficult second playthrough on the PC, the game eventually released on every other device ever made. I’d be standing on the train to work, and notice five-year-old boys playing the game on their parents’ phones, while unrelated 60-year-old women would be playing it on their tablets a few seats over. Much like Angry Birds and now Candy Crush Saga, PvZ was truly ubiquitous. It was the video game equivalent of Seinfeld or Lost — you could have a conversation about it with someone who has a completely different taste in games (or no taste for games) than yours. Will PvZ2 reclaim that throne and finally end the saga of smooshing candy?The gameplay is more or less the same as the original. Sun energy falls from the sky and is generated by certain plants, and is used to summon plants with different abilities that mow down zombies walking across your lawn. For the uninitiated, it’s a tower defense at its roots, but in a pruned down style where enemies don’t walk down a winding path, but instead shamble across straight rows toward your base. If a zombie makes it to your base, you lose and have to restart the level. Throughout the game — like in the first — you unlock different plant types with different abilities as you progress; some old, some new.Some areas of the game are new and improved, thankfully, so it’s not just more of the same. This time around, there’s a theme of time travel, as resident insane tutorial character (Crazy Dave) ate a really good taco and wants to eat it again, so we hop in his time machine to travel to the moment just before he started eating it. Like the TARDIS, Crazy Dave’s time machine misunderstands what Dave wants, and drops us off in ancient Egypt — technically a time before Dave fell in love with his now deceased taco. In order to try to get back to our time, we have to collect stars by beating levels that reward them.New to the series are world maps, so rather than being sequentially shoved from level to level, you can now choose which one you want to play, assuming you have unlocked it. The world maps are a nice touch since they give the illusion that we’re in control of our play destiny. However, the maps do seem more like the product of the the game’s new free-to-play model. In fact, the majority of the way the game works is a product of its free-to-play nature.Next page: Does free-to-play make the game less enjoyable?