Pop Cap took its 2D tower defense style game, Plants vs. Zombies 1 & 2, and turned it into a third person shooter. To our pleasant surprise we ended up with a very entertaining Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. They now continue the mayhem between vegetation and undead with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. This, while being more of the same fun craziness, does bring a few new things to the table.
The most alluring aspect of this game is the online. As you would suspect there are two sides, Plants and Zombies. Each side of this absurd conflict has their own unique selection of characters.
There are currently six game modes to play. The only playable ones are Turf Takeover and Team Vanquish. The other four game modes are nothing new and sadly there is no one playing them. With massive teams needed, waiting around as the only player in the game is not exactly what I want to do when I sit down for a session.
Turf Takeover is quite similar to the previous Garden Warfare’s Gardens’ & Graveyards but here the tables can be turned. Where it previously was always the zombies on attack and the plants on defense, now it can be either way. When taking over turf it is really any ones game and I would have to say my favourite of all. Team Vanquish is, of course, the standard team death match which is fun but just not as epic.
All the original classes return, from the healing sunflowers to the scientist zombies, it is quite the amusing array of classes. Garden Warfare 2 has introduced three new classes for each side. Plants now have a futuristic orange, a stalk of corn and the ever popular magic rose. The zombie side of things brings us a hobbling pirate, a super hero zombie, and a little guy who can summon titan-like mechs. The little guy, known as the Imp, is easily one of my favourite new classes. These mechs are audaciously named the Z7 and once inside one of these mechs it is quite fun to go trampling the plant life.
All of the new classes allow for interesting team dynamics and give rise to new playing styles. While ‘new’ is fun for a bit I do still very much enjoy playing the original classes. I did notice some of the new characters feel a bit more powerful, specifically the Rose, and you do soon find yourself in or versing teams mostly consisting of the Rose class. That said it is still quite an amusing experience.
Gameplay mechanics have not changed and feel very much the same to that of the first game. That said, I never had any complaints with the original so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Each class has a selection of variations, for instance the Sunflower has a Fire Flower and an Alien Sunflower version, to mention a couple. The original classes now have few extra variations but all the variants need to be unlocked.
The game uses a sticker pack system to unlock and gain new customization options and class variants. What you get from a sticker pack is quite random. With new characters requiring several stickers to complete it can take a while to actually unlock a new character. However, you can purchase a character pack but this sticker pack is quite expensive and also random so you might not get a character you particularly like to play.
All these purchases are made with in-game coins that are earned through playing the game. There is an option to spend actual money to purchase more in-game coins. Some of you may be thinking ‘pay to win’ but I don’t feel being prettier gives a player any particular advantage in game. The only benefit I can see is accessing the extra characters and accessories sooner. New characters aren’t more powerful they are just slightly different but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have liked quicker or easier access to them. Though, I wasn’t about to spend real money on it either.
I was happy to find my many hours of playing the first one did not go to waste. You can import all the class variations from the previous game to the new one. This did make things more exciting as I wasn’t stuck unlocking characters I had already seen or played as. It’s nice to be using those hard earned coins to unlock new unseen characters.
One big new feature is the offline hub that players go to pretty much do everything else in the game. The base gives players access to various things. You can do your basic things such as customize your characters, access your sticker book, view stats and purchase new stickers.
This is not all this area has to offer. There is now an offline story mode that offers a whole set of quests to play through. Describing it as a story mode may be too strong a term but it does follow some vague plot. I found these missions mostly enjoyable and not too long. The difficulty can be adjusted and completing these missions unlocks bonus bling for some characters. Though not online, you still earn experience and coins, meaning you don’t miss out on the opportunity level up and purchase those ever needed sticker packs.
Each side has a similar style base of operations. When not playing online you are planted at either the plant or zombie base and can swap sides at any time. The bases are set in an open map that can be traversed. You can go exploring the map outside to discover and collect bonus coins from chests and participate in small mini-game side missions. There is a bunch of AI zombies and plants roaming this area which helps it seem less barren.
It was nice to see the option for local play with split -screen. You are limited to what you can play but it’s great to have game I can play with a friend in the same room.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is brilliantly colourful and a simply delightful game. It is fun and knows not to take itself too seriously. I enjoyed both offline and online components. The new aspects certainly give you reason move up from the first one, or just try it out if you have never played. Don’t let its silliness put you off. Once you are out there shooting rainbows of healing from you decked out sunflower, there is simply no going back.
Released: February 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Pop Cap
Publisher: EA Games