Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare / 31st of August 2014
This is no Ground Force or lame gardening programme, this is all out warfare. If you were a fan of the original Plants vs Zombies then you were probably looking forward to developer Pop Cap’s latest addition; Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare (PvZ: GW). Moving away from the familiar top down, phone and tablet friendly tower defence game to a 3rd person shooter for consoles, may seem like an unexpected move for Pop Cap, one I can say I was unsure of, but it may have proved to be the right one. So with the game in hand and a great selection of gameplay material on offer I burrowed deep, planted myself firmly and got ready to battle the undead.
Right off the bat I was able to jump in, select a character, and play around as the game installed, a nice addition that I haven’t seen repeated in current next gen games. The controls are similar to other 3rd person shooters and will become instantly familiar, this is a good sign that Pop Cap know what they’re doing. One of the first things you’ll notice is that the game has a lot on offer especially in the multiplayer section. The grand selection of game modes are well known amongst online players but feel fresh thanks to the PvZ theme that is ever so present at all times.
One such game mode is ‘Garden Ops’, it requires you to pick a plot on the map and grow a garden, then in good PvZ fashion construct towers to defend the garden from waves of zombies. Like horde, ‘Garden Ops’ features Boss waves that are filled with all manner of crazy Zombie big bads like Disco Dave, The Gargantuar and a Yeti. These bosses and more are randomly selected by a slot machine process called Zomboss. ‘Garden Ops’ can be played by yourself in solo mode or with friends online. I played it by myself and it’s near impossible on higher difficulties, becoming incredibly frustrating all too quickly. This game really pushes you to play online and as part of a team, so while cooperation is a good thing the lone strategist in me is left disappointed.
Newcomers can play safely on ‘The Welcome Mat’ game mode that makes everyone equal and offers extra health to those taking a beating, so while not having much success alone I set off online to plant my seeds and eat some brains. I played my first two multiplayer games with kids clearly under the age of 10, who were more interested in my sunflower character and what colours I liked rather than dispelling the armies of Zombies attacking us. It felt as though their parents had put them down with this game rather than a pack of crayons and a pat on the head. However the kids proved to be good cannon fodder and allowed me to gain some much need experience before I journeyed deeper into the bush.
I quickly found the multiplayer consuming most, if not all, of my free time. It has to be said that I have played every mode offered in this game, a first for all my years playing multiplayer games. ‘Team Vanquish’ is your all out classic deathmatch much like ‘Vanquish Confirmed’ where you collect the orbs of fallen enemies to win. Then you have game modes like ‘Gnome Bomb’ where your team needs to carry explosive gnomes into occupied enemy territory to blow up all enemy bases, it really is as fun as it sounds. ‘Suburbination’ requires teams to battle it out to hold on to all gardens on the map for the most points over time. Most of these modes can be played in a classic style disallowing the use of customised weapons and classes.
Gardens and Graveyards is by far my favourite game mode in PvZ: GW and the most financially beneficial. As the Zombies you have to attack the plants, building turrets and teleportation pads, as well as summoning Zombies from the ground to capture one garden after another until you reach the final task, which could be anything from pushing a giant golf ball into its hole to breaking into a heavily defended mansion, or even attacking an enormous plant! As the plants you need to work as a team and build up defences while holding onto your bases until time runs out. With a great assortment of customisation options for your characters/classes it quickly becomes a frantic blood bath of vegetarian Zombies and homicidal plants destroying each other with ridiculous weapons in humorous and often mad ways.
On the topic of classes you have the usual assortment to pick from; soldier, scout, engineer and support with a unique class called Boss Mode. In Boss Mode you take control of Dave’s Motorhome (and the zombie equivalent), flying over the map lending support by sending down healing stations, target locators and raining down airstrikes on unsuspecting enemies. When you complete a match you are awarded with coins that you can spend in the Sticker Shop. Buying stickers unlocks different customisation options ranging from random appearance items, abilities, characters, weapons, to much needed zombies and plants to use in game. Of course if your patience is thin you can always use real money and by batches of coins to spend on characters and items via the Sticker Shop. Ranking up each class also awards you with milestone awards such as characters and abilities unique to your chosen class.
I got hooked on this game and played it every night for a week. It made me laugh and rarely cry. Easy to pick up, hard to put down Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is great fun, incredibly entertaining and very enjoyable for all ages but only in multiplayer. Going it solo is a waste of time and going spilt screen co-op only offers one game mode; survival, which gets tedious quickly. If you’re looking for the strategic tower defence game you came to love then I’m afraid it’s gone, instead what’s left is a solid 3rd person shooter complemented with the PvZ comedic look and feel, wacky touches and some great game design that will keep you entertained and smiling for hours.