Title: Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Platform: PC, PS4, and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Tagline: A war no one knew about
Release date: Out now
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
After the events 2014’s Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, the Plants successfully overcame the Zombies despite Dr. Edgar Zomboss’ relentless efforts. Not one to take defeat easily, the evil Doctor figured out a way to contact his future self to obtain a Zombie imp controlled Z-Mech. Unable to match the Z-Mech’s attack power, the Plants lose their home, Suburbia. The undead rename it Zomburbia. The goal of Garden Warfare 2 is to help the Plants reclaim Zomburbia. The game tackles both sides of the story: as a plant, your mission is to become an agent of L.E.A.F, while as a zombie, your mission is to become Top Zombie.
Players are thrown into the Backyard Battleground where they can roam around freely to either tackle single player missions, switch characters, take a look at their stats, or jump into multiplayer. It feels like a nice way to mesh everything together and being able to flawlessly switch from single to multiplayer, local or online.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is typical third person shooter. Unlike its predecessor, PvZ, GW2 features a light single player mode where players are tasked with various objectives to accomplish. Missions are given by a different NPC. At first, you’ll need to answer to Dave-Bot 3000. Once you’re done with his set amount of missions, you’ll unlock a new area to explore and received new objectives from a new NPC. Although mission objectives come in limited variation, they never feel grand, scope-wise. Each mission can be easily tackled between ten to twenty minutes. Whether it be serving as guardian angel for your allies or protecting an objective, the mission design is well-suited for quick bursts of play. The problem I have with this is that its repetitive nature comes very apparent and loses the gravity they would have on more dedicated play sessions
Most plants can shoot projectiles, but there are unique units such as the Chomper, which bites enemies until they die. The main issue is, most characters (from either classes) lack a close range attack, so being surrounded by a few enemies will puts most players in a bind. Another baffling omission is the lack of running, which makes reaching some objectives a bit tedious. Lacking two vital gameplay mechanics such as close combat and running can result in being surrounded by enemies rather quickly. To compensate, each character has three special rechargeable abilities which can be helpful when in a tight situation. Special skills will vary from character to character. For example, the Sunflower roots itself in the ground in order to unleash a Laser like attack or the Zombie soldier class will be able to unleash a toxic grenade, damaging Plants in the area.
Luckily, if players have a hard time with Sunflower, they can switch characters at will between missions. As players progress through the game, new characters and classes can be purchased via card packs from the vending machines, to also be used in the game’s various multiplayer modes. One of my main gripes is the Hero Showcase – their characters only last for a fixed amount of time. Gathering coins by completing missions feels like it’s in vain because all you can do is “rent,” those specific characters.
In the middle of the Backyard Battleground, players will find a board featuring additional side-quests to tackle either as Plants or Zombies. They mostly require players to kill x number of Plants with Y weapon or do X number of critical hits on certain enemies. While most of them revolve around killing certain enemies under precise conditions, there are some which require you to survive a certain number of waves in Garden Ops mode.
Before jumping in the multiplayer side of things, you can peruse the Welcome Mat in order to customize their characters. Lone players can try their hands with the solo multiplayer mode where you’ll be able to take on A.I. controlled bots. Those looking for some multiplayer goodness are sure to find a lot to chew on with the game’s array of online options:
- Team Vanquish: First team to fifty kills wins.
- Turf Takeover: The best way to describe this mode is that it’s a mix of Gardens & Graveyards and Herbal Assault; teams swap roles between attack and defence. The former featured the Zombies on the offensive looking to capture Plant base, while the latter was the opposite.
- Gnome Bomb: Both teams have fifteen minutes to find the elusive Gnome Bomb so they can use it against the opposing team’s three bases throughout the map.
- Vanquish Confirmed: It’s a more friendly rendition of Call of Duty’s Kill Confirmed. Once players have eliminated an opponent, they need to pick up a magical orb. First team to the high score wins.
- Suburnation: This mode features three distinct areas that need to be conquered and protected all simultaneously. First team to reach the score goal wins.
- Mixed Mode: As the name implies, this mode features a medley of the other multiplayer mode. Each round features a different mode and map while players switch sides; i.e. those who were Plants on Round 1, are Zombies on Round 2.
Both sides of the fight have their distinct classes to choose from. Plants will have lower class soldiers such as a Sunflower or a walking Corn, both of which can hold their own in a fight. Despite both factions having lower classes, early Plant classes feel decidedly weaker. Most of my playthrough was through the Plant clan, so I noticed that my Sunflower would fall pretty quickly after a few shots.
Using the Zombie equivalent of the Sunflower, I noticed that I could withstand much more damage while taking out basic Plants quite efficiently. I had the same feeling online, which can be seen as a detriment, forcing players to sink a few hours into single player content before taking the fight online.
Now onto the game’s overall presentation. The game is very colorful and its characters’ unique look makes it one of its best characteristics. Whether it be the environments or characters, every little detail is colorful and joyful, making it fun to go through. One of the game’s weakest point is the audio, more precisely the voice-overs. I can understand having characters with annoying voices that spurt out gibberish for younger players, who might find it funny, but as a fully grown adult, it’s grating. Otherwise, the game’s audio is quite cheerful and enjoyable. I dare you to play a few rounds without cracking a smile.
Overall, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is full of content. Whether you’re more of a solo or social player, this game will have something to keep you busy for the foreseeable future. Although important gaming mechanics such as running and close range attacks have been omitted for some reason, it still won’t deter from the overall experience. I don’t expect this game to dethrone Call of Duty or Halo as blockbuster shooters, but it is a nice little game that’ll put a smile on your face after a long hard day.
- Can be played in short bursts
- Has a charming style
- Interesting, albeit shallow, single player
- Plenty of content
- Dave-bot 3000
- Forced EA Origin implementation
- Lack of melee attacks
- Can’t pause the game, even during single player
Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is rated E10+, as it features animated blood, crude humour, and fantasy violence. I mean, a game about warfare isn’t for everyone.
This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by Xbox.