Like I did with my Big Wave Beach review a while back, I patiently waited for the entire FC to
soft release so that I can review it without encountering the scenario of loving one part, but being disappointed by the next. Now it's the time for the reviewing.
Note that I will grade things a little differently now than what I did with Big Wave Beach.
Hot Potato - I used to think this plant was pointless. Since Dark Ages, good observers would have noticed that every new world's first plant is what I call the environmental plant, i.e. a plant that has something to do with the lawn modifiers. This was no different, except that first I thought that Hot Potato would be totally unneeded, compared to Sun-shroom and Lily Pad. Oh, how wrong I was, and I didn't need Part 2 to make me change my mind (but only made me like it even more).
I really like its animation and the fact that it's immune (unlike Grave Buster). Sure, it's annoying that it's not very different to the previously mentioned plant, but I don't mind it that much. You'll be using it a lot more anyway.
In short, this plant is useful for: unfreezing pre-given frozen plants, quickly unfreezing plants frozen by Hunter, dealing with Troglobites, unfreezing one plant to plant a "hot plant" which will unfreeze the others (I hope you got this), starting levels in Icebound Battleground (vital, basically), and other scenarios.
Pepper-pult - Can I just say how surprised I was to see an All Stars plant in our version? The fact that it's slightly different in design and a flame effect plopped on? The fact that I was right when I translated it as (Bell) Pepper-pult
in your face, Itsleo20!. Well, I hope to see some more AS plants, because they have some cool-looking ones.
Anyway, while this was definitely the most popular and loved plant of Part 1 and probably the entire Frostbite Caves, it's also the least useful in Part 1. I originally thought it'd be a cheaper, but weaker Melon-pult, best suited for Frostbite Caves. NO. The recharge is a joke (probably the worst recharge for a plant in the game), and the splash damage is pretty poor with its 0.5 normal damage shots.
It's useful, however, for warming up plants (especially in Part 2), and I use it over Fire Peashooter for the splash damage (though it's weak). It's hard to keep planting these, but I get the feeling PopCap didn't want us spamming these, except to use them as warmers more (like Sweet Potato, maybe?).
The Plant Food effect lobs only 4 big projectiles, unlike all other -pults with damage outputs, therefore it's pretty random with many zombies on the lawn.
Continuing the trend from Sap-fling?
Chard Guard - It's getting hard to grade the beginning plants, they're all good (even Pepper-pult). This is a really good plant. Admittedly, I thought I'd hate it when I saw the Dev Diary, though to be fair, it wasn't clearly demonstrated whether it had an Area of Effect or not. Thank God it (he?) does.
It's hard to list everything this plant is good at. It's useful in any world, it can push back GARGANTUARS, so it's not a bad idea as an Endless Zone option, and it can even counter Mecha-Footballers in a way! Surprisingly, it's really useful in Frostbite Caves. I'm guessing it's because of the sliders and the fact that with less planting space and less damage output, you're going to be stalling those zombies.
I like it's design too. I originally thought it would look like that old concept with the green veggie, but I'm glad it looks like this. Definitely feels different from other plants with the design and animation, and I'm glad that PopCap is starting to introduce some "lesser-known" plants in the game. Finally, I like that it yells every time.
The three uses is definitely a good, non-OP number. I don't mind the Sluggish recharge, but I do mind the Almanac which can't get its things straight.
The Plant Food effect isn't anything amazing, but you can combine it with Blover if you hate the Spring Bean combo. You probably won't be using the effect, since Chard Guard gets the job done anyway.
Hurrikale - The best plant in Frostbite Caves! And yes, I consider it a Frostbite Caves plant, but I won't focus on explaining why.
You might not find a lot of use in regular levels (though it really shines in Part 2), but it's just amazing in Endless Zones. Paired with Banana Launcher (or even without it), it's the safest strategy to deal with Gargantuars and all other strong zombies, without the need to pay for premiums and spam Iceberg Lettuce's Plant Food.
Hurrikale is great for stalling, last-minute saves (damn Weasels), works great in Pirate Seas with Sweet Potato and is great in Icebound Battleground when you get 5 zombies at the start (more on that later). AND it has a Mediocre recharge, which is great (the Almanac lies again, though), and is relatively cheap. It's a lot better than Jalapeno.
The only downsides I can think of is the fact that it doesn't blow away every flying zombie, though I certainly won't be using it for blowing stuff away. Also, it doesn't blow all the way back and it doesn't push back sand/snowstorms (then again, no plant can counter that).
Finally, it has a pretty cool design, even though I thought it was ugly at first.
Stunion - Yay, an onion plant! Unlike some other people, I found it to look pretty good. Some say it's a lot better than Iceberg Lettuce, but I say they're more or less even. Stunion can't stun mechs, and it's PF is inferior to Iceberg's. On the other side, it has an Area of Range, and the stunning lasts as long as Iceberg's.
I found it odd that we get an "instant-like" plant such as this 7 worlds in. I definitely feel it should be a part of the basic arsenal. I also find myself using Iceberg most of the time, even though Stunion is superior in most situations... I think I'll need time getting used to it.
Again, I like its design, and the stunning animation is pretty cool.
The Plant Food effect is undoubtedly the hardest one to apply in the game (Squash being the next). While I was playing Day 18, I thought that it didn't even have a Plant Food effect due to the difficulty of feeding it. It doesn't matter much, since the effect isn't anything special.
Rotobaga - I will probably still call Rotobaga X-Shot, the title is just for formality. I knew this plant wouldn't be useful the first time hackers found it. The 3 damage dealt was okay, but it needed AoE to be different enough from Starfruit. It was only nerfed in Part 2, with the damage decreased to 1.5ndps.
I definitely liked its design when I found the leaks: I most certainly didn't imagine it like that. I'm a little disappointed by the name, for the most part because it looks more like a red beet. I wished it was bigger in-game though, because it looks awkward next to other plants
(bad design choice?).
Anyway, this is pretty much an ever so slightly stronger Starfruit with less range. The smaller range doesn't matter too much, but the damage does. It really makes you think why is PopCap making me use this in Frostbite Caves? It's really redundant. It doesn't really counter anything, and the whole "it pairs with sliders" thing is just an excuse, because it won't do a lot of damage.
The hovering effect is pointless in Frostbite Caves, therefore I concluded that this plant was obviously meant for Big Wave Beach. It's actually okay there. In groups, it can deal with octopi, but I only tested it in a regular level.
The Plant Food effect, while cool, isn't anything different than Starfruit's and will not get you anywhere. In short, this plant had potential to be the "last and most useful plant of the world", but it turned out to be a slightly different copy. It doesn't float over Pirate Seas water, tracks or sliders, because it makes a lot of sense.
Fire Peashooter - Can I just start off with how bad the name is? Really, couldn't you just name it "Fire Pea"? That would've been perfect; it would be the opposite of Snow Pea and would be a name easy to remember and use. But nooo...
When I saw this plant in Dark Ages, I was appalled; it was literally a recolored Peashooter which shot flaming peas. Not a lot has changed since then. It was scrapped from Dark Ages, the design slightly changed and the Plant Food effect as well.
Sure, it costs less sun than Repeater, but that's about the only upside I can think of. The flaming peas have no AoE (unlike in the first game), the warming effect isn't any faster than the other plants' and the Plant Food effect went from being perfect in 3.2 to being nerfed and no different from a Jalapeno in 3.3.
Overall, this is probably the most unoriginal plant in PvZ2, rendered redundant by Torchwood
or vice versa?. The Plant Food effect would've given it (her?) a higher grade if it wasn't nerfed.
OVERALL GRADE: 4/5 - A grade higher than Big Wave Beach!
Cave Zombies - At first I thought the foreheads made them weird, but I'm used to it now. When I first saw them, I thought they looked pretty cool, and they still do. Definitely better than Big Wave Beach's, and I'm glad there aren't two variants.
The Sloth Gargantuar is cool, and the three Imps thing makes it different and not a lot more OP than the regular Gargantuars. The Yeti Imps were a nice idea too.
Interestingly, Icebound Battleground levels with Yeti Imps will always give you 5 or more zombies at the start of a level, so be prepared (more on this later).
However, buckets and coneheads do not fit the zombies' heads. This is a continuation from Big Wave Beach! So, half a grade less.
Hunter Zombie - We've entered the PvZ2 mold where every new world will have a Wizard copy and a machined zombie. This is, however, the only Wizard done right. I'm guessing third time's the charm?
NOW GO BACK AND REPLACE WIZARD AND OCTO NOW STOP MAKING MORE WIZARDS
The zombie actually has counters this time around, and was clearly designed with the intention of not being OP in large numbers. It's practically unnoticeable in Icebound Battleground, but it doesn't make it UP.
It is definitely the most balanced zombie in the entire Frostbite Caves.
Dodo Rider Zombie - This zombie reminds me of Snorkel Zombie. It's a mostly original zombie, but it's pretty weak. It can pose a threat if you underestimate it, but that will be on rare occasions. Overall, I think this Zombie deserves a buff.
It has the coolest design of all the zombies, and I like the image it gives off when zapped. This isn't a big threat in Icebound Battleground, but expect them in large numbers even in the first levels.
Blockhead Zombie - God, I hate Knight-like zombies! I didn't hate Robo Cone Zombie, because it was the first true Machined zombie that fitted the world it was in, and which I hoped to be the last, but no.
All the things I hated about Knight Zombie I hate about this zombie as well. First of all, the design. Knight Zombie looked the same as normal zombies, and just had a helm plopped on. I want full body armor, it has Machined health after all! This is no different. The ice block looks really awkward on him. I want his entire torso to be in an ice block. And I want him to look different than normal zombies!
There is, however, one reason that technically makes him worse than Knight, and that's no counters for him. Knight had Magnet-shroom (which I never used, but still), while this zombie's ice block doesn't get melted or even absorbs extra damage from fire plants
WTF. This makes the introduction Magnet-shroom pointless, even more than it was before. Does PopCap really not want fire plants to be as useful as ice plants (which should be the case, in my opinion)?
Definitely one of the most unoriginal zombies. I complained Big Wave Beach had only 4 new zombies, and then I get this as the miissing fifth. I'm guessing the 5th zombie Big Wave Beach was missing was a Machined zombie. Maybe PopCap thought it would be too much even by their standards...
Troglobite - PopCap made a huge oversight when they forgot to add "zombie" to all the new zombies in Part 2. I think this is, objectively, the best zombie in Frostbite Caves, the first completely original zombie since Surfer Zombie (not that I liked him).
I was a little bothered by the fact that he's literally a reskin of Octo, but it was done intentionally so that we can link Frostbite Caves to Big Wave Beach
(why not link other worlds too?). I do think they could've made him at least a little bit original. And to think I thought this zombie would look like a mutated animal (because real life troglobites look like that).
This zombie is well-balanced. Originally, I thought that the three Imps were a little... a little more. But now I think that's the right number. And you don't even get more than 1 Troglobite in a lane if you know what you're doing.
What I REALLY like about Troglobite is the further implementation of ice blocks, and how it makes Hot Potato even more useful (I talked about it before). Playing Part 1 levels with pre-set ice blocks, I was hoping for a zombie that would have something to do with ice blocks themselves, so we could have that feature (which was programmed into regular levels) in the Endless Zone too. It turned out kind of awkward, since the Endless Zones turned out with both features (and not very well implemented).
The ice blocks, as with the plant ones and Blockhead's, look weird and not ice-blocky, but I've kind of given up on the idea that they'll be changed.
As a minor complaint, I'm still sad we don't have a crushing animation for plants (as with Gargantuars too). As a big complaint, Ghost Pepper got even less useful in FC with the introduction of this zombie.
Weasel Hoarder - The universe, give me strength...
In ANY other world, even Big Wave Beach, a hoarder/wrangler zombie would pass. And it would here, if the weasels didn't have the ability to jump over slider tiles, which, along with an all-frozen situation, proves to be deadly and almost unavoidable. As Brainulator says, what's the point of Dodo Rider then? More on this below.
Let's skip over the fact that PopCap didn't even try to create a unique animal zombie (there were many ideas). The zombie has an interesting look to it. It's nice that it reacts slower than Chicken Wrangler. It has a better look than Chicken Wrangler. It has better effects than Chicken Wrangler. It's still worse than Chicken Wrangler.
The extra health makes Spikeweed completely unreliable against it, while it was perfect for chickens. And even if it could kill Weasels reliably, it still doesn't hide the fact that FC's frozen wind mechanic is overpowered (mainly in Icebound Battleground). Snapdragon NEEDS the thawing plant ability. Snapdragon, pre-3.5 Fume-shroom and probably Lava Guava are the only plants that are the most reliable to use - yet they are still not strong enough. PopCap was out of their mind when they promoted Lightning Reed as a counter.
WHAT WERE THEY THINKING
Final note: I find it interesting that so far no world has had a good Part 2 update. Dark Ages was ruined by its 10 levels, Wizard & King and 2 horrible new plants. Big Wave Beach was ruined by Octo and ridiculous new levels. Frostbite Caves was (almost) ruined by Weasel Hoarder, but thankfully it's not really OP in regular levels.
OVERALL GRADE: 3.9 - Only slightly higher than Big Wave Beach (weird).
Design - It hasn't dissapointed so far. This is PopCap's strong field. I think some may have complained that it looked a bit bland, but I loved Part 1's design (and Part 2's, of course). I think they captured the winter setting perfectly, and I love the pine trees on the map.
The cave is also a nice idea, even though THE WORLD DOESN'T TAKE PLACE IN A CAVE. I actually thought this would be a night world... because it's called Frostbite CAVES.
Music - Thank God there's mini-game music! I thought this was turning into a thing. I have no complaints here at all. The Ultimate Battle music is my favorite theme so far (gotta love that xylophone), and it reminds me of the original game the most.
The regular theme is also nice and catchy, but not my favorite. Zomboss has its own intro. Really, Big Wave Beach was a big mistake overall.
Time Period - Unlike Big Wave Beach which had an arbitrary time period picked for it, this one works really well. It's the ice age, goddamit, how can you get more specific than that?!
Difficulty - Almost perfectly balanced. It has a few levels that are harder, which is good. And I like how every level can have various strategies, the complete opposite of Big Wave Beach (yes, I'm bashing it a lot here).
I think this world appears to both new and experienced players in this sense.
The Lawn Modifier - Slider tiles... It sounds like a great idea... and it is, but... I've realized that they're almost pointless in this world. If you think about it, all the special zombies don't give a c...ake about them. And by special, I'm not counting Generichead Zombie here.
- Dodo Rider glides over them. Okay, this is perfectly fine. A zombie like Snorkel which isn't a big threat, but shouldn't be underestimated. Nice idea.
- Weasles jump over them... wait, what?! We got so used in Part 1 to build strategies around slider tiles, only for this zombie to show up and say "Meh, eff that!". Now you can't really place sun production plants behind them anymore and think that a Blover or a Hurrikale is going to be enough to cover that lane. So stupid! They've ruined one of the best aspects of world just so they could deliver that OP zombie.
- Troglobites don't react with slider tiles at all. In any meaningful way, at least. Their ice blocks will stop at the slider tiles, and that it's it... No more reaction other than that.
- Hunter moves so slowly, it will be a miracle if he makes it alive all the way to the slider tile. And even then, it doesn't matter because he's not a threat at all and is easily taken down.
Yet, even with all these facts, slider tiles weren't completley ruined with Part 2 and surprisingly still have a noticeable and fun role in levels, albeit less than in Part 2.
The winds on the other hand, are not fun. More on that below.
Special Brain Buster - Hmm... Big Wave Beach had its Brain Buster, but no music for it. This one has the music, but not the actual levels. Day 8 is fun, but it's definitely not a Brain Buster. I had a small amound of hope that Whack-a-Weasel would be the mini-game, but that was also a time I thought Weasels would be normal zombies.
I don't really miss it that much though. I think these special mini-games lost a lot of value since 1.7, and even more since Dark Ages.
OVERALL GRADE: 4.2 - Higher than BWB, but the scoring is quite different this time.
Part 1 - Oh, I really did like them! It's a shame that PopCap has settled for the Special Delivery mold and I'm honestly sick of them, but it didn't really bother me too much. What I really liked about Part 1 levels is that they included plants I didn't think of using. Unlike Big Wave Beach, which promoted only certain strategies, a wide variety of playstyles work in Frostbite Caves.
Part 2 - As with Part 1, these levels also have plants from earlier worlds. These levels were still versatile, but Weasel Hoarder made using some plants like Laser Bean or Fume-shroom necessary in order to pass the level smoothly. As said before, Part 2 somewhat stultified ice floes by introducing Ice Weasels.
Zomboss battle - How weird! An original idea, it can't be denied. And I really liked it... but it's to easy. Day 30 requires practically no strategy to beat; the only thing you should do is just plant, plant, PLANT. Even strategically placing thawing plants doesn't matter as plants rarely get frozen and any ones that do will get freed by plants like X-Shot. The Zomboss should definitely have more health, and perhaps summon Troglobite while having a stronger freezing attack. Making Tuskmaster encase nearly all columns in ice does make the level more challenging, but it's still a situation that's easy to get out of.
The Endless Zone - Ugh, PopCap! I swear, they must have some of the worst playtesters. Do they even play the game they're making? Freezing winds are overpowered. They're just overpowered. It's overpowered to have four of your lanes freeze, while having sucky plants like Pepper-pult, Fire Peashooter or (God forbid) Torchwood to deal with... weasles?! Which jump over ice floes? How dumb! It's probably the most annoying Endless Zone, mostly ruined by Ice Weasels in combination with the OP winds... And what the heck is with the ice blocks spawning a tile away from your house??? Even Weasel Hoarders can spawn that way! And with the ten thousand zombies at the start of the level... I'm guessing their explanation is that we have frozen plants as well - though they're completely useless and pointless, even when you have a frozen Cherry Bomb. Seriously. it would've been pretty much perfect otherwise. Arthur's Challenge still remains the most pointless Endless Zone though.
OVERALL GRADE: 4.1
OVERALL WORLD GRADE: 4.1/5
This world was such a breath of fresh air after Big Wave Beach. After the disaster of Dark Ages and the wasted chance of Big Wave Beach, I was really getting worried about Plants vs. Zombies 2. Thankfully, this world (and the next one) got it back on track. However, it still must get rid of the molds and go back to the Far Future standard.
Please let me know if I made a mistake in the calculations. Note that I used rounded numbers everywhere except the overall world grade.