Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is a multiplayer third person shooter and tower defense game created by PopCap, the company best known for bringing us Bejeweled. Garden Warfare is based off of a 2009 tower defense game in which plants try to save a home from being invaded by zombies. This new path for the franchise breaks away from the original storyline and 2D art style to create a whole new bright and colorful 3D Plants vs Zombies experience.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare has no campaign mode and no solid story. Some might say that the descriptions of the maps played in Gardens & Graveyards could present you with bits and pieces of a back story of some sort, but the maps are rarely ever actually played in order. Garden Warfare has three game modes: Team Vanquish, Garden-Ops, and Gardens & Graveyards-all requiring the internet.
Team Vanquish is your typical team death-match with non-typical characters. In this mode you can end up playing as either a plant or a zombie and the first team to get 50 kills wins. This game type is simple and is very good if you are trying to get used to the game’s mechanics.
Garden-Ops is a spin-off of a wave based tower defense mode but in the third person. In this game mode you can use planters around the map to “recruit” (plant) plants to help you fend off the zombies that happen to be trying to destroy your garden. The game offers for you to play Garden-Ops mode alone, if you want, but requires you to make an online lobby to do so. Garden Warfare also does not scale the enemies to the amount of players, making it almost impossible to succeed if you play alone. Luckily, Garden-Ops can be played with three other people over the internet. Unfortunately, every Garden-Ops match I have been a part of maxed out at 10 waves of zombies, meaning there isn’t the same type of competitive “must survive” feeling as there is in Nazi Zombies by having unlimited rounds. What’s the point of playing again once you have made it through the max amount of rounds if you’re not constantly trying to out-do yourself?
If you choose to get the game on the Xbox One you have the ability to take advantage of the split screen feature in Garden Ops. Unfortunately, this feature does not allow you and your split screen companion to join a group of friends who happen to be split-screening in the room next to yours, or pretty much join anyone at all… which is a huge let-down since split screen online multiplayer has been around for years now and adds a whole new level of fun, especially to wave-game modes like Garden-ops.
Gardens & Graveyards kind of feels like the “Rush” game-mode straight out of the Battlefield series. One team plays as the Plants and attempts to save their sacred gardens while the other team plays as the Zombies and tries to destroy them. I found this mode to be the most fun and most unique since it contains the biggest maps that have both day and night variants and have expanding objectives.
One of the most unique things about Garden Warfare is the lack of experience points; there is no leveling-up. Instead of leveling-up from gaining experience points, you gain coins for each match. Using the coins earned, you can buy a pack of stickers/cards to unlock characters and “tattoos” for your character. If done right, I believe the idea of card/sticker packs could have been great, but, instead it was executed poorly. You are not allowed to sell off excess cards/stickers that you do not want and there isn’t even an open trade market to be able to trade cards/stickers other players (You would have thought EA would have helped with this since the Madden Franchise has the “in game card game” locked down). Instead, the game forces you to keep every card/sticker you get from a pack and every coin you make must come from some type of match. It often feels like no matter how well (or horribly) you play you always seem to get the same amount of coins, so you will need a set amount of matches in order to buy a card/sticker pack, which in turn makes unlocking characters and tattoos more of a job than a reward to playing the game. The worst part of it all is that once you get the pack, all of the cards/stickers in it are extremely random and even if you do happen to unlock a character it is highly likely to be of a class that you do not play as.
The controls feel great… Until you realize there is no button for close combat and you and one of your enemies just happen to be staring each other in the face, not knowing how to react when you both need to reload at the same time. Of course, this is not true if you are the one class made for close combat. Other than that small issue, the controls are very similar to most other shooter games; you have the ability to aim, shoot, jump, move around, and use special plant/zombie powers.
A Gamer’s Opinion:
During the E3 announcement I found myself cracking up and wondering if such a game could actually be real. I had found both of the first two Plants vs Zombies games to be a lot of fun (before all of the pay to play non-sense). After playing Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare it started to feel like EA released the game as filler for those waiting for Titanfall to come out. The game has so much potential with the unique characters and card/sticker-pack unlocks, but every time I pop it into my Xbox One I feel like it is missing something to make it a game worthy of playing. It is something that is intriguing enough to pick up when first hearing about it, but you get bored of it so quickly that within two-weeks you’ll want to find another game to play. While Garden Warfare is one of the cheapest new games available, I would hold off on it until you could buy a used copy for $15 to $20.
+ Interesting twist on the Plants vs Zombies Franchise
+ Tries to break away from the overly used experience point model
+ It has bright and fun colors with a unique cast of characters
- The game gets boring quickly, especially if no one on your friends list has it
– The unlocks quickly get boring as they are often something you will not use
– You can’t help but feel like something is missing