Plants Vs Zombies has always been a fun, mind numbingly good time. Something that you can pick up and play in short bursts that is amazingly addictive. Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is a departure from the standard side view tower defense style of the originals and could spell disaster from the tried and true formula set forth by PopCap almost a decade ago. Nah! Let me tell you why you should go spend $40.
First, let’s talk about the robust storylines in Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare…oh, who am I kidding? There’s no story here. At all. That shouldn’t take away from the gameplay experience, though. Garden Warfare is a tight third person shooter with more than a few hooks that will keep players coming back for more. With three modes and four character classes for each groupd (not to mention dozens of unlockables) there is more than enough here to keep you busy for quite a while.
Let’s talk about the gameplay modes, the first of which is called Garden Ops. Here you and up to three of your buddies will try and survive as many waves as possible (with a max of 10) in a style reminiscent of Gears‘ “horde” mode. This will be the most familiar to those of us who are familiar with the original Plants Vs Zombies as it is a nod to the classic tower defense style of play. Here you will essentially establish a garden and plant your defenses in the surrounding flower pots. Be forewarned! You only have so many plants to use for the entirety of of the rounds so plant wisely; I often found myself with little to no plants in the fifth round and later. And you’ll need all the defense that you can muster because this mode is not easy…especially when the boss round starts. Ouch! Even though though this is most like the original PvZ, it’s easily my least favorite mode though it’s still not bad. The level of difficulty mixed with the finite amount of defenses doesn’t quite feel like what it was meant to be. It’s fun, but I think that it had much more potential.
The next mode on the list is Gardens and Graveyards. Here you’ll battle against player controlled enemies in an attack and defend style combat arena. The zombies will be trying to turn plant controlled gardens into graveyards within a set amount of time while the plants set up defenses and coordinate strategies to fend off the shuffling hordes. The last little bit of the stage is where things get interesting; objectives for each side will spring up depending on who’s winning that will alter the outcome of the match if completed. It’s a nice spin on what is a typical multiplayer mode.
Vanquish is last mode in this game and is by far my favorite. This is a standard fare 24 player deathmatch but with a Plants Vs Zombie flair. Here the team who reaches 50 kills first wins but with a nod to the “ticket” system that EA’s other famed shooter Battlefield originated. This mode allows you to change the course of battle by reviving fallen teammates and taking a kill off of the opposing team’s counter. In a tight battle, this could make the difference between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The battles get hectic in Vanquish and especially when most of the combatants have unlocked their abilities and used special power ups through purchasing packs of PvZ cards. Speaking of which…
One of the cool hooks in Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is the ability to unlock special abilities. There are three abilities to unlock for each character class and each has that typical PvZ humor. For instance, the Chomper can burrow under ground and pop up under a zombie a la Jaws while spitting purple goop that will slow and disable zombie specials abilities. Or you can snipe with the Cactus class while dropping some potato mines to cover your flank. My favorite special ability to unlock is the garlic drone for the Cactus: this stinky little helper will drop corncob bombs on the witless undead. The next hook is something cool that PopCap included to (seemingly) extend the life of your game: packs of cards! Each match ends with the awarding of coins; these coins can be used to purchase packs of cards that will include new costumes, accessories and specials for your plants like ice/fire damage. Each pack has a rarity attached to it that costs more and more coins. Luckily each match will award you plenty of cashola so it won’t take long to get that super expensive pack you’ve been eyeballing.
The graphics are surprisingly crisp in PvZ: GW and the framerate is solid even when things are getting a little hectic. PopCap, with the vast resources of EA, was able to use the Frostbite 3 engine on Garden Warfare so the visuals are very impressive. Just check out these killer pics:
Looking at these images you might be thinking to yourself “Ahh, those are just computer rendered artist interpretations”. Well, don’t be such a jerk…those are screencaps! You can see all of the cool details both in the character models and the backgrounds. Quite stunning for a “value” title if you ask me.
Even though the game has the tight mechanics of a great shooter, there are some aspects of PvZ: GW that are lacking. First and foremost is the general lack of content. Three game modes are not really a full game and there are only four classes to speak of. Not to mention the fact that you will need to be online to fully enjoy this shooter. Hopefully you like multiplayer deathmatch…cause you’ll be playing that. A lot. Also, there is only one mode that is capable of couch co-op (that being Garden Ops). This seems like a big oversight on EA’s and PopCap’s part and the lack of multiple split-screen co-op is sorely missed. The lack of content also makes me think that EA is holding back some of the content in order to charge microtransactions later. Hopefully, that’s not the case, but I guess we’ll see.
Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is a fun game overall and a solid title for kids on a system that is desperately lacking in that category. The $40 price tag is also not only reasonable, but is a must purchase for the amount of gameplay that you do wind up getting. So go out there and get your green thumb on…those zombies aren’t going to kill themselves!