Pop Cap seem to be a company that can’t do any wrong when it comes to making popular combinations for the casual gamer. I grew up playing the likes of Book Worm and Insaniquarium (which could be used to make a great screensaver) that weren’t massively popular but were extremely fun and addictive. I then moved on to other games like Bejewelled that seemed to take the world by storm, which may be due to the way platforms such as Facebook have made games more accessible for the casual gamer. Then Plants Vs Zombies popped up on my radar when a friend recommended it to me. I was blown away; it was such a simple and bizarre concept, but it worked really well and captured the imaginations of millions, possibly being more successful than PopCap could have ever imagined. So with its success it was inevitable that the developers would try and see how much further they could take it, but was it a wise move to try and bridge the perilous gap between the casual and more serious gamers? Well in terms of sales Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare may be overlooked with its release coming slightly before that of Titanfall but I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed this almost as much as any other shooter.
The game as many will know is all about protecting your garden from incoming waves of Zombies, but it has gone from the traditional table based turret defence kind of game to a whole new class-based third person shooter which allows you to roam many different maps to take on zombies face to face. Each plant ‘hero’ you can choose has a main weapon which are what you’d expect in the original styled games such as peas from the peashooter and needles from a cactus. Where the game differs is that each plant also has three special abilities which you unlock as you level them up and complete challenges; these are things like the chilli bean bomb which attracts a horde of zombies to it before exploding, a walnut wall to reinforce your defence and a small garlic drone which can fly around the map firing a barrage of bullets and dropping corn-on-the-cob bombs. If that wasn’t enough you also have a further ability at your disposal to help you on your mission.
This is the ability to grow plants in pots dotted around the area you must defend. These can be anything from turrets that fire at the enemy to help your attack, plants that can slow down the enemy’s’ progression to your main garden by freezing them or sunflowers which heal the wounded heroes in your group. The only catch is you are limited to the number of plants you can place around as they are collected from card booster packs that you buy with in-game currency that is earned through playing the game. It works just like XP really in that the better you do the more coins you will earn; killing more zombies and winning more matches will provide you with more coins, fail to do this and you won’t get as many coins to purchase better booster packs. These little helpers aren’t the only thing you will have in booster packs though; you can get customisations for your plants to give them a unique look and get power-ups such as self-revive which allows you to resurrect yourself.
One thing which the game lacks compared to its competitors though is a campaign mode, which is reflected in the price of the game, as the most expensive I have seen it priced is £29.99 at Argos, but look around and it can be as cheap as £22.84 at Play.com. That said there is a mode you can play in Single Player called Garden Ops where you are essentially just protecting your Garden against wave after wave of zombies. The rest of the game is all multiplayer, with not many different modes to play. The two main modes will see you either competing with an opposing team to reach a certain number of kills before your rival, or in an exciting twist, see you as a zombie trying to take over the map by capturing set locations being defended by plants. Like the characters your zombie heroes have their own abilities and also have little helpers of their own in the form of more zombies rather than potted plants.
If you were looking to play locally with a friend round your house rather than online, the best you can do really is play a survival mode that see’s you fighting against an endless wave of zombies, a good way to collect coins for purchasing more booster packs. To break up the waves, as in Garden Ops mode, there are special zombie slots that pop up every five waves which nine times out of ten pit you against zombie bosses which are a lot more powerful and tougher to kill. Sometimes you can get a reward instead of being forced to face boss battle though, by winning the likes of 500 coins. I thought it was actually a bit of a shame though that there wasn’t some more content to local co-op mode or more options for single player mode, because they could’ve done something allowing you to play as the zombies. Still for the money you pay for the game you can’t really complain.
Overall this game is a great bargain buy. It isn’t quite as addictive as the tower defence games you’re used to but it is a great shooter and for those parents who don’t like their kids playing violent video games, this is a great compromise as it is much more family friendly than the likes of COD or Battlefield. Plus hopefully it’ll keep kids from playing more adult games where you can constantly hear them whining down your headset. That aside, this game is well made and a lot of fun to play with or without friends there; the mechanics work well and movement is smooth, the graphics although cartoony are what you’d expect from Plants Vs Zombies and are detailed enough to make you appreciate the artwork of the designers. This game is definitely worth the purchase, I just wish they gave you more opportunities to play as zombies.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.