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Blake Grundman

Contributing Writer with the 148Apps Network since August 16, 2010

Mild mannered programmer by day; gamer, podcaster, and writer by night. Blake is a staff writer for 148Apps, as well as the Managing Editor at GamesAreEvil.com. He also co-hosts and produces the EvilCast Recap podcast with fellow gaming junkies Ross Polly, Keri Honea, and Chris Nitz.

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Email :: blake.grundman@148apps.com
Personal site :: http://www.gamesareevil.com

FIFA 14 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The Ultimate Team is the perfect way to experience free-to-play.

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Riddick: The Merc Files Review

Riddick: The Merc Files Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Stealth-action is a perfect fit for the Riddick universe. Too bad the kinks weren't worked out prior to release.

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Angry Birds Star Wars II Review

Angry Birds Star Wars II Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The force is strong with this one.

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Boom! Tanks Review

Boom! Tanks Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
It doesn't matter how fun a game is when more time is spent in menus than in the heat of combat.

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Dead Effect Review

Dead Effect Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
A mindless shooter is just what the doctor ordered, every once in a while. This should fill that prescription quite nicely.

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Arma Tactics Review

Arma Tactics Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Sometimes what seems like a match made in heaven ends up being lost in the fog of war. Here is a perfect example of one such misfire...

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Joust Legend Review

Joust Legend Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Jousting is a time-honored tradition that has been woefully under-represented on iOS. Joust Legend aims to bring an end to this tragic injustice.

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Wobbles Review

Wobbles Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Thinking outside the box may not be a neanderthal's strong suit. Luckily the player is there to do the thinking for them.

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Racing Rivals Review

Racing Rivals Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Who knew that burning rubber could be so easy to grasp?

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Kingdoms Fall Review

Kingdoms Fall Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Sometimes it is best to leave the experiences of the past in the past. Unfortunately an authentic retro experience doesn't always translate to fun.

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Madden 25 Review

Madden 25 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
This attempted hail mary ends up feeling like more of a personal foul.

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There is a dirty little secret that some are too busy worrying about Plants vs. Zombies 2’s microtransactions to acknowledge: It can be played for free, FOREVER. In the final installment of our pro-tips series we will discuss exactly how to do so. Penny pinching has never been so simple.

Free-to-Play or Free Forever?

Yes, there are certainly more than a few opportunities to shell out real cash monies to the talented folks at PopCap Games. It could even be argued that a few of the purchase exclusive items might be of benefit to the player; but they are far from critical. In fact, later on in the base campaign these seeds could prove to be weaker than the core suite of spores unlocked through the game’s natural progression.

IMG_0592Another major complaint is the fact that players must spend earned in-game currency in order to utilize one-time-use power-ups, much like the ones we discussed yesterday. The fact of the matter is that while the currency can be refilled using actual dollars, it’s just as easy to replay/grind early stages again in order to earn cash. Could this be considered tedious? Probably. But if it were easy, why would anyone ever trade real cash for “funny money?”

Unlocking worlds utilizes a similar concept of iterating on a stage several times, only with a different gameplay wrinkle for each session. These stars are then used to turn around and unlock new worlds. The base set of worlds were easy to reveal, as long as the player has enough patience to play through stages a couple of times. Honestly, what fan of the series wouldn’t be doing this already? Each world had a low enough bar of entry that the minimal star counts were trivial at worst. Hopefully PopCap will continue with that trend in whatever additional content that awaits players in the pipeline.

IMG_0574At the end of the day PopCap may have made their game almost too devoid of the necessity to spend money. Plants vs. Zombies 2 may not be a free will offering, but with the way it’s designed it might as well be. For this reason it is worth imploring players to actually consider buying an item or two, all in the name of supporting a developer that consistently gives fans more game for next to nothing in return. Remember, just because you can always play for free doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. With great replayability comes a great responsibility.

So for the last time, never forget that there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps the blood off of your hands! Thanks for a fantastic week and please continue to return to 148Apps for all of mobile gaming needs.

Pull up a chair and listen to the tale of a Plants vs. Zombies 2 round gone horribly awry. Not only can this happen to anybody, but there is little that can be done once the cogs of fate have started rolling against the player. Unless, of course, there are a few power-ups left in the satchel. Then all bets are off.

Power to the Plants

There comes a time in every player’s game when they decide whether to pack it in and take a loss or dig deep and try for a miracle win. For the non-wussies in the population there are power-ups, which help to level the playing field – for a cost. These specific perks take four different forms and can vary in levels of usefulness.

IMG_0629As far as generic pay-per-use perks go, there are three different ways to dispatch undead using gestural controls: pinching, flicking, or sliding. The one thousand coin lightning bolt is used by sliding a finger between zombie adversaries, which links them in a chain of electric obliteration. A throw costs a bit more, clocking in at twelve hundred, and consists of a flick of the finger that will send the troops reeling. Arguably the most viscerally appealing is the pinch, which simply pops the head off of every reanimated abomination and oddly happens to be the cheapest at only eight hundred coppers.

The last, and easily most useful of the quintet of amplifications, would be the overcharge leaf. This game-changer allows any one plant to cause an absurdly augmented amount of destruction. Every plant is effected by this item differently, but the result is always the same: tons of re-dead corpses. While these normally cost a thousand apiece to unlock, frequently they can be collected off of dispatched plants.

IMG_0627But when are these items right to use? Most times they should be saved for the last or middle wave of zombies, unless the fate of a mower is in question. If a match can be won using less than three perks, then it’s normally worth it. The reason for this is that between two to three uneventful stages, these losses can be recouped without necessitating the spending of a penny of actual cash.

Most critical of the decisions is which power-up will be most effective for a given scenario. As far as bang for the buck goes, the pinch is the most effective in clearing a map while not draining the bank. If undead are bunched together, a couple of double flicks can go a long way towards cleaning house. Heavily armored brutes are best to be left for the electric bolt. They may not end up completely drained by the end of the attack, but all of the weaker enemies in the area will be singed beyond repair, leaving all the defenses with a single target.

IMG_0628It may seem like a no-brainer to purchase as many overcharge leafs as possible, but they’re abundant enough through death drops that it should almost never need to be done. This power will be the one that is used the most abundantly, but should also be reserved for worst case scenarios. Juicing up a Bloomerang may be the very best use in early worlds, simply due to its combined horizontal and vertical attack, but be sure to experiment with each plant when the stakes are lower.

Be sure to keep it locked here for tomorrow’s final lesson: How to play Plants vs. Zombies 2 forever, without spending a dime. Rest assured, it is not to be missed. So until next time, remember that there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps the blood off of your hands!

Another day, another sweet dose of high fructose Plants vs. Zombies 2 tippage. In today’s lesson, the goal is to make stage replays as painless as possible. So sit back and relax while we let the knowledge flow.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Once a stage has been cleared as part of the main campaign, players have only seen the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to what it has to offer. In order to clear whole worlds, they’ll need to re-visit any given area as many as three more times, all in the name of grinding out stars.

IMG_0625One type of mission that’s used heavily early on is the limitation of how many plants can be in used at one time. Thankfully there are seeds that are destructible! Be sure to make heavy use of the potato bombs, and this will help keep the plant count down while still maintaining a high level of protection. Additionally, it is also extremely useful to combine cocoanuts, placed as far to the right of the map as possible, with an evolved Peashooter or Bloomerang behind it. The nut will eventually be gnawed through, but not before heavy damage has been unloaded on the troops barricaded behind it.

Another pesky permutation are the “non-trample” assignments, where a line of moss will exist somewhere on the map and the player’s job is to prevent the hallowed ground from being decimated by undead feet. Once again, the cocoanut is the player’s best friend when laid two rows in front of the “no-step zone.” Behind the roadblock, plant some Bonk Chow. This will help deliver a strong one-two punch, as the strikes can hammer away on any zombie feasting on a nut. Thankfully this method will also allow for quick plant replacement should the brain munchers manage to breach the perimeter.

IMG_0624Probably the most irritating of all the challenges involves use of a sun power cap and plant limit, simultaneously. Right out of the gate the key should be using as few sunflowers as possible to race to the power cap, while making use of the low cost bombs as a cheap form of early defense. Once the sun cap has been reached destroy all of the sunflowers, because they are no longer useful and take away from the plants available for productive use. Next is to focus on collections of Bonk Choy, backed by Bloomerangs. This combination will help to pick away at the defense long before the troops ever reach the front lines. Bonks are more than up to the task of cleaning up the riff-raff.

Also, don’t be afraid to make use of a power-up in a pinch. The trick is to pick the correct time to deploy these special abilities. Tune in tomorrow to see just what scenarios best necessitate paying for a little help from the deities of the greenhouse. Until then, remember that there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps blood off of your hands!

A new week is finally upon us, which can only mean one thing: a fresh new dose of Plants vs. Zombies 2 pro-tips. So without further ado, it is time to ring the bell and start class. Everyone, please take your seats.

Seed Selecting Secrets

As players venture deeper into the fertile soils of Plants vs. Zombies 2, it becomes immediately evident that there are WAY too many different seed varieties! Unfortunately, there is also a fairly limited number of active seed slots available per round. This makes the selection of the proper plant varieties absolutely critical. Here are some helpful hints to fend off even the hungriest of zombies.

IMG_0621The main factor to consider are a stage’s hindrances. If this is the first time through a stage, most likely the player will only be dealing with varying waves of outbreak management. For this scenario, be sure to refer to last week’s hint for successfully starting a match. To utilize this strategy, add at least a standard sunflower and pea-shooter (or their upgraded states which are unlocked later), along with a land mine. Additionally, a strong hand-to-hand plant like Bonk Choy will be more than enough to make a significant dent on the front lines, while the pea-shooters chip away at the horde from a distance.

If a stage has obstacles in the way, this is where stratagems become a bit more subjective. In the case of tombstones that appear in a region like Egypt or their numerous facsimiles in other worlds, it is critical to choose between either avoiding the objects altogether or blowing them to kingdom come. Most times, the latter of these options will prove to be more effective. In this circumstance the Bloomerang is by far the player’s best friend. Not only will it chew through multiple obstacles at one time thanks to its multiple projectiles, but also debilitate enemies as well. Nesting these seeds in between a back row of sunflowers and the melee focused Bonk Choys will help ensure their survival and as well as a steady flow of graves being demolished.

IMG_0588Last and certainly not least, NEVER underestimate the value of delay tactics. Having a cocoanut in the arsenal is an extremely effective way to bide time, especially when there is not enough sunshine in the bank to produce a more powerful offensive unit. It may not be the most glamorous slot in the utility belt, but there are times when its quick deploy time and thick skin can genuinely make a difference when an unprotected lawn mower is in the balance.

Now get out there and start making smart lineup decisions! Tune in again tomorrow when we talk about conquering stages for stars and how to tackle their assorted nightmarish objectives. And as always, remember, there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps blood off of your hands!

PopCapLogoIn an age where developers are micro-transacting their consumers beyond belief, it is refreshing to hear of the occasional development team willing to take a stand against it. In the most recent example, the financial relief comes from the good folks over PopCap Games. Their most substantial iOS offering to date, Plants vs. Zombies 2, made the unexpected move to free-to-play – much to the chagrin of their audience. Oddly enough, that shift may have actually been the best thing to happen to cash-strapped gamers in recent memory. So how can studios go against the monetization grain and still manage to sustain a profit? A simple change of perspective can go a long way.

Traditionally in-app purchases within free games were viewed under the microscope of paying a cost in order to either continue playing, or unlock an item that will make an unbeatable adversary more manageable. Essentially it boils down to being a pay-to-win structure. In either scenario there is a wide spread negative connotation associated with purchases, drowning in a bubbling cauldron of frustration and anger. When the main motivation behind opening a wallet is to make something that is undesirable cease happening, it feels more like being held hostage than acquiring something beneficial. It might even be fair to say that this is likely the reason that so many folks look down their nose at free-to-play titles.

While working on Plants vs. Zombies 2, the team over at PopCap hit on the discovery that purchases could actually be driven by positivity instead. For example: certain special crops are made available exclusively for purchase with cash through the in-game store. These seeds may be overpowered for a short period, and slightly flashier in terms of presentation, but over time the items that are unlocked simply by continuing to progress through the campaign will end up being just as useful, if not more so. Also, players have the chance to pay to unlock new worlds if they are uninterested in playing through the additional stage permutations in order to clear obstacles the “good old fashioned way.”

PvZ2PurchasesThe main differentiation is that these acquisitions are completely unnecessary in order to move through the game. In reality they act as more a shortcut for those that don’t have the fortitude of the multitude. Under most circumstances there are only positive underlying motivations associated these purchases; primarily consisting of the desire to play more of a game that they already love, which most will gladly do with a smile. After all, people are far more willing to part with their precious greenbacks when they feel like there’s a tangible reward on the other side of a transaction.

PopCap, along with a select handful of other developers, may have finally cracked the nut that the industry has been trying to shell for years. Here’s to hoping that more will pay close attention and make efforts to follow suit. Who knew that future of mobile gaming could be forever transformed, all thanks to a slight shift of perspective?

On the heels of Plants vs. Zombies 2’s release for iOS, we decided it might be fun to pass along a few tips and tricks we’ve learned over the last month; starting with some helpful strategies for setting up a solid foundation. Keep an eye out all next week for even more zombie-stopping strategies!

Start With Sun and Spuds

IMG_0617Anyone worth their salt knows that nothing happens in the conflict between zombie and zucchini without the assistance of plenty of sunlight. This is why it is key to make planting sunflowers the early emphasis of almost every match. But that’s a no-brainer, right? What might not be so obvious is how easy it can be to get an entire row of sun production in the ground before ever needing to plant a single pea shooter.

But what about the zombies bent on munching the marigolds? It turns out that the lowly land mine, which is available from the start, can prove to be crucial in tackling the issue while simultaneously helping a player lay the groundwork for victory.

At the start of every match begin by planting sunflower seeds across the entire back row as quickly as possible. On most maps, by the time the second plant has sprouted the first zombie will begin meandering down the aisle. Carefully note the location of the creature and plant a land mine in that row, the third column from the rear.  The standard walkers that start nearly every match will take long enough to saunter that the entire back row of sunflowers should be able to be seeded before the first brain-chomper goes boom.

IMG_0618Follow suit for the second critter that appears, making sure to observer the same buffer of two squares from the back. This buys time that can be used to either plant an entire second row of sunflowers (my personal preference) or layout the first layers of protection. After the first two to three undead, this will have allowed for a free chance to stockpile energy or shore up defenses for whatever onslaught the hoard has in store. Fortunately this setup will work in almost every scenario and can help set the stage for a swift conquest.

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any Plants vs. Zombies 2 topics you would like to hear about. We will be taking requests all next week. And remember, there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps blood off of your hands!

Just when we thought we’d seen the cross-promotional tool to end all cross-promotional tools, Sony went and completely broke the mold. Instead of aiming their new game PlayStation All-Stars Island at the PlayStation Vita as expected, it’s launching exclusively on iOS and Android. This is a curious choice to be sure, but the App Store masses are certainly not going to turn down appearances from the likes of Nathan Drake and Sackboy.

IMG_0366PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was a PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 release from last November that was just recently announced to be dead, at the hands of Sony. This tie-in to the console franchise comes literally the week after that news broke, making the decision to release this title outside of the Sony-verse even more befuddling. Luckily this collection of mini-games carries on the legacy of the original product, with a little help from Coke Zero. And by a little help, we actually mean it’s being plastered over every square inch of the product.

At launch the game currently features one of what is planned to be four base games, along with several mini-games acting as creative non sequiturs. The only available mode features Nathan Drake making his way through a Temple Run-esque environment, featuring plenty sliding and jumping, while also tilting to collect coins and droplets of soda. Yes, droplets of soda. Once the player has collected enough to fill a bottle, two different mini-games can be abruptly kicked off; including cameos from Clank of Ratchet and Clank fame, as well as Kat from Gravity Rush.

IMG_0361Though the initial offering is light on variety, it is mechanically strong. Everything plays fluidly, the visuals are crisp, and most importantly, it is fun to play. Sony characters may not usually make appearances on iOS, but they fit the platform like a glove. There’s little doubt that future additions to this free title will make it even more worth the download. It is rare for an unfinished product to reflect any kind of justifiable promise. Thankfully PlayStation All-Stars Island has been able to overcome this obstacle and deliver a game that has the potential to be quite good, once it has been completed.

However, like most good things in life, there is a catch… Someone over at Sony decided that this title would be best targeted exclusively to a European audience. For this reason, it has been confirmed that PlayStation All-Stars Island is not expected to ever see release stateside.

Why would a game featuring a couple of characters from US development teams not venture across the Atlantic? Also, each character appears in games that have sold best in North America. Heck, Coke can’t even be the scapegoat because Coke Zero is available here! Someone in the marketing department should take a break from plugging the PlayStation 4 and deal with their games that are already on the market. iOS gamers are clamoring for the chance to swipe Drake into submission. Why rob them of that opportunity?


Plants vs. Zombies 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Who knew that zombies existed in every historic era? Don't miss out on this journey of epic proportions!

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Lightning Fighter 2 Review

Lightning Fighter 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Finally, a game that tells the player to go to hell... bullet hell, that is.

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Sky Tourist Review

Sky Tourist Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Puzzle/platformers take the cosmos by storm in this unique take on a tired genre.

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Bloody Harry Review

Bloody Harry Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The menu in this dive is rather plain, but much like food, some prefer their gaming to be predictable, too.

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Pacific Rim Review

Pacific Rim Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Yet another movie tie-in game that misses the boat.

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Roswell Fighter Reloaded Review

Roswell Fighter Reloaded Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
It may not reinvent the wheel, but sometimes maintaining the status quo is all a polished game needs to succeed.

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Bounty Hunter: Black Dawn Review

Bounty Hunter: Black Dawn Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Do you like Borderlands? Do you prefer to shoot first and ask questions later? If answered yes to either question, we have just the game for you...

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Colin McRae Rally Review

Colin McRae Rally Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Colin McRae rally started its life as a PlayStation 1 game, and now it's on iOS. Sadly, there's no accompanying visual upgrade to make it look better on today's Retina screens.

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Puzzle Pirates Review

Puzzle Pirates Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Pirates and puzzles seem like a curious combination, but somehow SEGA manages to bring this PC mainstay to iOS with style.

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Magic 2014 Review

Magic 2014 Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Sometimes more of the same is more than enough.

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Froot ‘n’ Nutz Review

Froot ‘n’ Nutz Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
While Froot 'n' Nutz may not look very modern, it is very likable.

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Pinball Rocks HD Review

Pinball Rocks HD Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
When players have the chance to buy free balls at the end of a game, that speaks volumes about the motivations of pinball game's publisher.

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