Plants V Zombies has been around now for a few years, since 2009 if I am right, and originally started out as a 2D tower defence title for Windows and Mac. Since then the series has grown into somewhat of a household name, and I am definitely one of it’s fans. I have spent many, many hours protecting my house from hordes of disco dancing zombies both on Xbox and my Ipad as I travel about. Plants V Zombies is one of those titles that you just can’t put down once you start, no matter what age you are. I was a little surprised when the change of format to an online shooter was announced, but not any less excited. Changing the DNA of the series to compete in the hotly contested genre of online shooters was risky to say the least as so many gamers want realism when it comes to these type of games. Take Battlefield for instance, for me it is the most realistic game on the market, one that puts you in a war zone without actually having the to be shipped overseas.
In titles such as Battlefield and Call Of Duty players want to be the best and have the best, with kill streaks and experience points translating into better weapons, equipment, medals and uniforms, not to mention the all important rank. This is what keeps players coming back and competing day after day, hour after hour. Plants V Zombies Garden Warfare does not have that same sort of glue to keep the players competing for top spot or that new gun, but make no mistake EA and PopCap have managed to turn the 2D tower defence game into a decent online shooter, and that in itself is no small feat.
Gameplay in Plants V Zombies Garden Warfare consists of three main modes, the first one is Garden Ops, an attempt to give players the original format in 3D, where you defend your garden against waves of enemy Zombies. However, this was also the worst mode for me, due mainly because of the limited defences you could set up compared to the original. These little plants become quickly overwhelming leaving you alone to defend the garden from all sides. Garden Ops does improve if you play it online, but quickly becomes repetitive and boring if I am honest. Jumping into the other two modes which are both 12 v 12 online matches, you then get back that warm fuzzy feeling of total fun and entertainment. The games Deathmatch modes and Capture The Turf modes, are definitely a joy to play, with all types of plants and zombies going at it. The gameplay is diverse due mainly to the unique abilities that the characters have, for instance if you are playing for the plants and choose the Chomper, you can burrow under the ground and surprise an enemy by popping up from below to swallow them whole. The zombies also have their own unique abilities that give them enhanced mobility and devastating single use attacks, like a jackhammer that the Engineer can ride into battle like a motorized pogo stick. Popcap have been very clever when designing the characters and their abilities, with each of the opposing sides having their own abilities, they have managed a balance between the teams that is absolutely perfect.
These modes are complemented by the unique cartoony style of the environments and maps, from suburbia to a castle, the maps are large enough to allow players to get as close to the action as they wish, or snipe from afar with the Cactus. They have also managed to design these maps to make the most of the characters abilities, with high points for Pea shooters and Zombie soldiers, to little hiding places for Chompers and the like to ambush their prey. If you are looking for upgrades you only need to go into the sticker shop that allows you to purchase packs of stickers that will contain all manner of gear. You may earn 2-3,000 coins in an online match and this will buy you the cheapest pack, that will give you plants for Garden Ops and maybe a revive card. However to purchase a new character it will take 40,000 coins, now that’s a few hours of play time in anyone’s book, but you will make progress towards this with every match you play.
The most impressive thing that PopCap have managed to do is make a family friendly online shooter that you can sit down with the kids and play, and believe me they love it! Plants V Zombies Garden Warfare is definitely a welcome addition to the series, and one that I hope they continue to develop. It may lack the appeal to the wider online player, mainly due to it’s lack of real variety, but with free content promised by PopCap I am hopeful that they add some. Nevertheless, you cannot deny that this is pure innocent fun for all ages, with a friendly community and a happy go lucky feel. You don’t get the sense of competitiveness you get with other titles, but it’s a welcome break to just have fun for a change.