With Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Popcap has done something truly strange by taking an addicting tower defence game and successfully turned it into an online third-person shooter.
What is even weirder is that it somehow works.
The game revolves around pitting two competing factions, the plants and the zombies, against each other in a variety of game modes. Each faction has four unique character classes specific to that faction with their own unique ability. Unlike traditional class based online shooters, the opposing team does not have an equivalent class which really helps set apart each team. In keeping with the original tower defence game the plants have primarily defensive abilities and the zombies have primarily offensive abilities.
On top of the different abilities, the teams also have allies that they can call to their aid. The plants may summon stationary pot plants to help defend and the zombies may summon other zombies to help attack. For the most part, the teams feel balanced.
One of the greatest parts of the game is how great the character and environmental models look and react. It is the minor details that continue to stand out like seeing the sunflowers petals bobbing around as you move and seeing the peashooter reload its peas.
Despite the seemingly pretty and polished exterior, I couldn’t find myself really getting grabbed by this game. It’s a game I really wanted to fall in love with but never could. I think most of this boils down to how extremely simplified and bare bones everything is.
To start with there are only three core game modes, Garden Ops which is a interesting wave survival mode, Gardens & Graveyards which is a basic capture points and Team Vanquish aka Team Deathmatch. The first two do well in showing off the games uniqueness. It really could have benefited however with another two or three more modes that do likewise. There are a variety of different maps which are massive in size but I still found that the game got stale somewhat quickly.
Also I found that there wasn’t much thinking or strategy that needed to be employed. This might be great to those new to the genre but as a veteran I found it somewhat underwhelming.
The game also utilises a nicely implemented card based system where new characters and allies are provided randomly through purchasing card packs. Coins for the packs are earned in game and accumulate quite quickly.
The biggest falling of this otherwise interesting game is the lack of game modes available. Overall Plants v Zombies: Garden Warfare is a fun and fresh take on third-person shooters, but also one more suited for the younger audience or those new to the genre.