by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
The battle rages on
They were coming. We knew it. We could hear their groans moving closer. We had already disposed of the last wave of zombies, but it seemed that with each new onslaught, the undead horde was becoming stronger. My team and I were milling around our base, hoping that the booby traps we had set further out would be enough to deter the enemy. But, of course, the hope was in vain and we needed to finish off the remnants ourselves.
Their shambling forms edged into view and we prepare for a long battle. Cactus puts one down with his sniper rifle. They begin charging at us. Good old Citron sets up his shield and starts firing away whilst Sunflower is on hand to heal anyone who takes any damage. And as they get close enough to smell, I let loose with my Cob Busters. For I am Kernel Corn and this is Garden Warfare.
Those familiar with the original Plants vs. Zombies will know it as a tower defense game which had players placing plants of different varieties on a chess-like board in order to prevent the waves of zombies from reaching their base. Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is essentially the same except that the game has moved into the third dimension and has you playing as one of a range of plant creatures in first person shooter mode. This changes the gameplay in much the same way the Worms series did when Worms 3D bought the game into the third dimension.
The campaign has you playing a range of weird and wonderfully vibrant characters, each with their own special abilities. There is a class that will suit each play style, from Cactus' sniper abilities to Rose's mage class abilities. Anyone who has played a FPS will immediately be able to recognise the classes. Apart from their standard ability, each of the characters has two other skills that usually have a limited time span or require a cool down period. Of course, for Team Zombie, they too have characters that fit in the generic shooter classes, such as the Scientist as the team medic.
But as well as controlling a main character (or sometimes switching between characters), you get the option to place towers (well, actually pot plants) at specified locations in order to slow the movement of the zombie horde. Like the playable characters, the potted plants each have different skills, with some being better at long range whilst others prefer to be up close and personal and others can be set to be stationary healers. It is here that the traditional Tower Defense structure takes place. Like in a traditional tower defense, enemies attack in waves that become increasingly more powerful as the round progresses. The efficient use of the towers has a two-fold effect. Firstly, it enables the main character to focus on simply finishing off those enemies that make it through the towers. And secondly, it allows you to focus your attention towards a secondary attack point when enemies are attacking from multiple directions.
Unfortunately, the potted plants come in limited quantities. Scoring in-game currency will allow you to purchase special game packs that contain randomised pot plant characters for use within a level. Like many tabletop card games, the card packs come in various levels, with rare and premium cards appearing in the more expensive packs. Currency is earned by completing the mission and for performing well during the scenario. You will often have three other AI-controlled characters partnering up with them during a level, and you may be able to rely on their performance combined with the potted plants to get you through the mission (especially on the easy level). But doing so will not gain you the extra bonus coins that are required for purchasing the card sets.
Multiplayer is just as much fun as the single player modes. Apart from playing the single player missions alone, you can team up and compete together or be part of the 24 player (12v12) action in a range of modes. Most of them are similar to the usual multiplayer modes such as Vanquish being a take on the usual deathmatch mode. I did like the Welcome Mat mode, though, as it gives newcomers to the FPS genre a chance to have a level playing field against more seasoned players. In it, after each time you get killed, your character will spawn with more health.
Visually, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is an explosion of colour. Each of the levels contains enough colour to make the Sydney Mardi Gras proud, and it works well with the fun nature of the game. The cartoon style characters (especially on the Zombie side) and locations make the game feel like an interactive Saturday morning cartoon filled with countless action sequences and fireworks.
For all ages
There are a number of difficulty levels in Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 that allow gamers of all ages and skill levels to enjoy the game. Casual gamers who were familiar with the original tower defense game would be fine starting out on the Easy level, while those gamers with a bit more experience would probably find the higher difficulties more to their liking. The Welcome Mat mode is another aspect that enables younger (or more casual) gamers to be gently introduced to the multiplayer modes and I can see this idea being used in other games in future. The colourful visuals, fun and varied characters, the range of play modes and the collection aspect with the game packs will continue to keep gamers of all ages entertained for hours.
Colourful visuals and fun multiplayer modes
No real tutorial for beginners