Waaaaay back in December we released a quick fire article that EA were giving away one game per PlayStation platform, with the PlayStation 4 offering being Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare – the first game of the PvZ series to deviate from the tried and tested Tower Defense-eque style that took the world by storm. It’s taken some time, and after being able to tear myself away from Destiny for long enough to give it some playtime the review is finally here!
The new direction takes the franchise into Third Person Shooter territory and given the nature of the series it was never going to be a Call of Duty or Battlefield style game, instead Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare offers a colourful, playful take on the style serving up three game modes and four classes per faction there is plenty on offer from this maiden voyage.
Its no surprise that the two factions on offer here are the Plants and the Zombies, with each class offering 4 classes each with a unique style of play. Each class has 3 abilities to unlock and the leveling process comes in the form of a challenge based system – completing challenges rewards stars and once you get enough stars you gain a level. Each level requires more stars than the last and each class levels independently so you may find yourself switching between classes early on to get everything unlocked.
As mentioned before, each Faction consists of 4 Classes and on Team Plant they breakdown into the following:
- The Peashooter – Nimble and agile, this is the basic grunt unit for the plant side great for scouting and flanking the opposition.
- The Chomper – The only melee specialist character in the game – use it to trap and devour your foes!
- The Cactus – The long range hitter with some useful defensive perks for defending yourself and a Garlic Drone for long-range surveillance
- The Sunflower – The healer of the plants, what it lacks in offensive power it makes up for in keeping others alive to do extra damage!
Making up Team Zombie:
- The Foot Solider – Less nimble than its Plant Counterpart, the Foot Soldier packs slightly more of a punch and its ZPG (Zombie Propelled Grenade) is formidable.
- The Engineer – Armed with a concrete block launcher this guy hits hard and comes with the ZomBot drone to long range damage dealing.
- The Scientist – The Medic of the Zombie world but can also hold its own in close combat with a shotgun style weapon and a mid-range teleport ability.
The All-Star – This guy is pretty much a tank – high health and capable of dealing out some serious damage, if your looking to rush some yards in the final down with the seconds ticking away then put this guy in coach, give him a chance.
Now we’ve introduced the classes, what about the game modes? Well these have drawn inspiration from a number of other games and have put their horticultural mark on some classic game types:
- Team Vanquish: Yup, you guessed it – it’s a team deathmatch style arena. Up to 12v12 and the first to 50 kills with no time limit
- Gardens and Graveyards: This mode is a tweaked version of the Battlefield series staple “Rush” in which the plants are always defending a set of objectives and the zombies are always attacking said objectives. whilst there is no kill limit if the zombie team go a certain length of time without capturing a base then team plant wins it. You can also summon AI-controlled extras in this game mode – more about this later.
- Garden Ops: This mode is the PvZ take on Gears of War’s “Horde Mode” and well, Call of Duty’s “Zombie” mode… it pits up to 4 plants against 10 increasingly difficult waves of zombies. The round starts of when you plant one of three defendable gardens and from then on its clobbering time. As with Gardens and Graveyards you can also summon AI-controlled extras. Twice per game you’ll encounter the Zomboss slots, a 3 slot spinning wheel of both goodness (bonuses) and badness (zombies) with each slot representing a boss for that round, with 3 of a kind resulting in a “Super” version of that boss (a HUGE pain in the ass, especially when its Disco Stu).
“What about those AI-controlled extras?!” I hear you cry, well, fear not – I’ll bundle that into one neat package with character customisation.
Over the course of time you’ll earn Sticker Packs – either through reaching certain ranks with a class or purchasable from the Sticker Shop with coins you earn playing, and there are a number of different packs to choose from varying in price from 1,000 coins to 40,000 coins
Depending on the pack you get you may get pieces towards a new character skin to help you stand out from the crowd (you’ll need all 5 pieces to unlock said skin) or plantable/summonable AI minions for the Gardens and Graveyards /Garden Ops modes.
These AI minions are brought into the game world by using golden glowing bone piles or plant pots (depending on respective faction) and will automatically help you to attack or defend a point. The rarer, more powerful extras are harder to come by so make use of them well.
As is the growing trend nowadays you can purchase these coins in game for real money, but luckily this isnt a pushed option and its easy enough to earn coins you’ll never feel this is an option.
Items unlocked from Sticker Packs, unsurprisingly, can be viewed in the Sticker Album. A nice little touch of this feature is it gives you a character by character stat break down of areas such as time played, kills with that class, kill/death ratio with that class and highest kill streak.
Ascetically it looks great, with colourful character models, well-built battlegrounds and some nice little animations. The game also performs well in the sound department – you’ll find yourself humming along in no time and the various character noises and sounds will bring a smile to your face (a personal favourite of mine is hearing a potato mine explode as it usually means someone is swearing about me!).
It reminds me in a lot of ways of the turn based PC/PS1 classic Hogs of War – it’s a easy to pick up and fun to play title that will keep you coming back for “just one more round”, but also in-depth enough and with enough gameplay variation you won’t tire of it quickly. Each game mode requires a different set of tactics and the extremely well balanced classes across the factions make no class stand out as O.P.
In terms of gameplay it could be described as the Mario Kart of the Shooter genre – it’s easy to pick up but only practise will make you a master. Whilst the lack of gadget options might have proved a downside its only enhanced its pick up and play style making this a really accessible title for all ages.
If you’re looking for a shooter outside of the usual fare then put on your wellies, grab your controller and head on down to the garden and sow the seeds of warfare!