Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare: 5 Minute Review
At first glance PopCap’s colourful, cartoon like shooter can seem more like a child friendly game than a deep, nuanced shooter with more in common with the likes of Battlefield that you might think. The colourful art style and the lack of blood splattered headshots puts it a million miles away from the grey and brown war shooters that dominate the Xbox Multiplayer space but instead of being a negative it’s the sheer diversity and welcome change of pallet that serves as PVZ’s greatest strength.
At it’s core Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare is a fairly traditional class based shooter pitting teams of Zombies against Plants. It’s the art direction and the well thought out character classes that helps it really stand out from the crowd. The art direction really is unique and not just across the character classes but the levels are vibrant, well designed, richly detailed and flow very well. There is a real variety to the levels with well thought out choke points, flanking routes and elevated positions to control and dominate with some lovely touches dotted around. The maps are all great fun to play and the various locations include suburban streets, graveyards, Garden Centre and my favourite Port Scallywag. The variety is refreshing and the lavish use of colours and charm really bring them to life.
The Combat is just as well designed as the maps with the 2 factions each having different, well balanced character classes to choose from. They are familiar in their use and capabilities if not in their design but if you have played the likes of Battlefield you will quickly get up to speed with each class. Each of the classes are upgradeable as you complete challenges and earn XP and as is common these days you can earn or buy card packs that contain upgrades or cosmetic items to add a touch of individuality to your characters. Some upgrades are a little over powered especially some of the offensive powers for the peashooter and in particular the plasma Peashooter is simply a monster to use. Most of the upgrades are purely cosmetic adding sunglasses to a cactus for example. Ranking up is pretty fast and as you progress you unlock your character special moves or abilities. These are closely tied to their class for example the CQB specialist Scientist Zombie Class has a warp ability to get up close and personal in a flash.
Plants are broken up into 4 classes Peashooter, Chomper, Cactus, and Sunflower each of which have unique skills and abilities. The Peashooter is the Soldier Class, sporting an automatic rifle, Cactus is most effective at medium to long range and the Sunflower is the medic class capable of healing and reviving downed team mates. The final class is the brilliant Chomper class that takes the role of CQB operator and is best used for flanking and causing chaos by burrowing underground and getting up close for a sneaky chomp attack
On the other side you have the Zombie classes which are slightly different to the Plants but still well balanced and great fun to play with. Starting with the Foot Soldier who is roughly equivalent to the peashooter with a similar primary weapon capable of dealing large amounts of damage up close. The Engineer is the Zombie answer to the Cactus best used a long range to deal damage via the awesome Zombot drone whilst in cover but the Engineer is also useful in a support role utilising it’s sonic mines to stun and even reveal sneaky Chompers forcing them to uproot. The scientist class is the close quarters specialist packing a shotgun type weapon and a brilliant warp ability enabling him to scout around and get up close and personal. The Scientist also handles the medic role being able to deploy healing stations and revive team mates faster than other classes. Finally you have the All Star who functions as the tank of the Zombie faction. Packing a minigun and more health than any other character the All Star is best leading the charge with a scientist keeping it’s health topped up. On their own they can be taken down quickly due to poor mobility but if supported well a couple of All Stars can over run the enemy with ease.
The various game modes all compliment each other and although there may well be a case for there simply being too many of them the level of variety is welcome. Alongside the default PVP you have my personal favourite the Horde mode called Garden Ops which puts up to 4 players against 10 waves of Zombies intent on destroying your careful planted garden. The difficulty ramps up quickly and without team work you can be easily over run and your garden will fall in no time. It’s in this mode the subtle character balance really shines through as picking a well rounded team will really help especially into the later rounds. Having all sunflowers for example will make it very hard to get through the first boss round but by having a cactus picking off the Zombies from distance combined with a peashooter and 2 Sunflower’s you can hold them off far easier.
Gardens and Graveyards is brilliant take on the rush and conquest modes from Battlefield where one team attempts to control key points along a set route. On one map there is a giant golf ball that you need to push to the last hole to win. It’s a great, fun mode to play regardless of the side you’re on and it manages to keep things fair and balanced. Team Vanquish is the PvZ version of the classic team deathmatch. Gnome Bomb is a bomb-based game mode. The two teams must work to secure a neutrally placed and controlled garden gnome with a bomb strapped to his back. Once captured, the bomb needs to be placed in the enemy base. Last up is the Taco Bandit Crazy Taco mode where the attacking Zombies have to break through reinforced Plant defences, grab the taco, and make it back to Dr. Zomboss’ spaceship in one piece. If the Zombies can manage this feat three times in a round, it’s game over for the Plants. It’s hilarious, frantic and if you’re on the Zombie team it’s a real bonus if you manage to win as it’s heavily stacked in favour of the plants.
As you can see there is a lot of game there once you get past the bright, cartoon like front. It’s deep, richly designed, different from the multitude of grim war games and most importantly it’s great fun to play. Get some friends, head online and get stuck right in, you wont regret it and if you’re on the EA Access program you can get it from the EA Vault.