Say what you want about mobile and social gaming, but PopCap did a lot of work to garner some well-deserved attention for its addictive strategy game, Plants vs. Zombies. At E3 2013, they turned heads with a colorful third person shooter set in the same insane world built with the Frostbite engine, and now that it has finally been released, we can tell you that it’s as fun as it looks.
What Is It?
We don’t know if it’s a pun on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s name, but Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare‘s name is as accurate as it is funny. The game is an online, cooperative third-person shooter that takes part in the Plants vs. Zombies world developed by PopCap Games. Players choose sides, Plants or Zombies, and then proceed to destroy each other.
Why Should I Care?
Similar to basically every competitive military shooter, each unit in Plants vs. Zombies has unique abilities that attract different kinds of players. On the Plants side, beginners will grow accustomed to the Pea Shooter, a basic infantry unit that shoots peas and lays out explosive beans to wipe out or freeze opposing zombies. Long range players will gravitate to the cacti, which act as Garden Warfare‘s snipers, while the melee-based chomping flowers (very reminiscent of Super Mario Bros.’ piranha plants) can burrow underground and swallow unaware zombies from below.
On the other side, we have the plant-hating zombies highlighted by an engineer that can summon laser-shooting drones, a zombie scientist that can willingly teleport into and away from nearby areas, as well as a yolked zombie in a football outfit that can throw dangerous eggs and vandalize vegetation.
Gameplay and strategy are very asymmetric, so it’s safe to say that while newbies can get a good grasp of how to play the game from the get–go, skill really matters. For me in particular, I don’t have a lot of friends with the game and an Xbox One, so it was pretty hard to communicate and work well with teammates that thought the game was Call of Duty. Sure, sessions end when you get to 50 kills, but this isn’t a game that you want to try lone-wolfing in.
While the squads of plants and zombies have a respectable amount of variety, the modes sort of suffer in that area. There’s a Team Vanquish (Team Deathmatch) mode, Gardens and Graveyards (a rush mode with a specific sequence in the final round), and Garden Ops (which is pretty much what Gears of War’s horde mode was). Garden Ops is by far the most impressive of the offered modes, and it’s also the mode that stays truest to the original mobile game.
Garden Ops, which also is the only mode playable in multi-screen format, is pretty much a capture-the-flag kind of game. Players fight on the plants side and have to deal with a set amount of zombies per session, with bigger boss-type zombies as they progress. At the end, the plants have to retreat to their base, similar to getting Olimar and the Pikmin back to safety.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
For all the fun there is to be had in the game, it’s a bit disappointing that there’s no sort of campaign mode. Yes, with war games, campaign modes tend to not be worth playing, but a game bearing the flexibility of the Plants vs. Zombies name has so much potential. There could’ve been a narrative similar to something like the Toy Story or Small Soldiers films where the zombies go bump in the night while the plants unsuspectingly get attacked, and it’s all up to bigger, bolder plants to save the day.
Be that as it may, the game is just made up of a bunch of different multiplayer modes, because that’s all the game is. It’s a multiplayer, team-based, strategic shooter. A very colorful and fun one too. If you want an enjoyable shooter to tide you over until the release of Titanfall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is an easy recommendation. The game even requires an Origin account, which is kind of annoying, but this is probably going to be required for Titanfall too.
Don’t let the multiplayer-only aspect of Plants vs. Zombies be a huge letdown; the game is definitely an effort nobody would expect from a company that has only handled simple mobile and social licenses.
Who knows? Maybe Roxio will develop an Angry Birds with hardcore-friendly gameplay.