Plants vs. Zombies has grown to be one of the most well-known and loved mobile games ever. A defense game in which you use a plethora of plants to defend your home from waves of zombies, it is hard not to love the lettuce-flinging, pea-shooting action that Plants vs. Zombies brought to our tiny handheld screens. While this provided never-ending fun, PopCap decided they wanted to bring us gamers something more. Making a third-person-shooter out of Plants vs. Zombies might seem like a strange concept, but in this case, strange is absolutely amazing, and PopCap somehow pulled it off. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare wreaks havoc on the flooded first-person-shooter war simulation market with its zainy fun and adorably silly thematic elements that make it extremely difficult to stop playing. Compile this with loads of customization options and character classes to fit everyone’s unique play style and you have an incredibly fun experience that will have you praising it as one of your favorite multiplayer experiences and a must-have Xbox One game.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare bases upon the same story as its mobile predecessor. Hence, there is no story. The basics are that there is a farmer named Crazy Dave, and for some reason, zombies just love to destroy his garden and property in general. Because of the Zombies’ knack for earthly destruction, the Plants have revolted in an attempt to defend their garden. It is up to you, the player, to be a Zombie and try your darndest to take over the garden; or, to be a Plant and fend off the waves of Zombies to protect Crazy Dave and your home.
With Garden Warfare, PopCap decided to completely omit a single player and made their console entrance into an entirely multiplayer experience. There are two multiplayer modes to choose from: Team Vanquish and Gardens & Graveyards. Team Vanquish is your classic Team Deathmatch mode, in which you must kill as many Plants or Zombies as you possibly can. The first team to get to 50 points wins the match. Gardens & Graveyards, however, is similar to Battlefield 4’s Domination mode, in the sense that the Plants have various bases that they must defend from waves of Zombies. Whoever owns the most territory by the time the match ends is declared the winner. Gardens & Graveyards is undeniably the best mode in the game. There is never a moment of boredom, and everyone has the same objective set, making each base a complete stand-off between Plants vs. Zombies that proves to be beyond exhilarating.
Before jumping head-first into Gardens & Graveyards, though, you might want to rid of your noob status by trying out the Garden Ops mode. Garden Ops takes the traditional horde mode and finesses it with some Plants vs. Zombies spunk. Team up with three of your favorite Plant friends and you are ready to prepare yourself for an epic battle against the Zombies. In each map, there are three Gardens you may choose from. It is important to think tactically about which Garden you choose, as some may prove to have more strategic value than others. Once your Garden is planted, it is time for the Zombies to rise from their graveyards and attack your Garden. There will be potted plants surrounding your Garden, in which you can plant various Plants that will aid you by shooting at Zombies or providing you with health. There are a total of ten waves in the Garden Ops mode: two of which are comprised of Boss levels. The way this is chosen is what makes Plants vs. Zombies’ take on horde mode even more unique than it already was. The Boss level is completely randomized, chosen by a spinning slot machine that will determine your fate. Sometimes you will get lucky and earn huge sums of Coin, while other times you may get hit by giant Yetis, or, enjoyably, dancing Disco Zombies. Overall, the Garden Ops mode is thoroughly fun and a great way to get your feet wet in preparation for Gardens & Graveyards, or even just to battle it out with friends.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is comprised of numerous character classes that will surely fit anyone’s unique play style. For the Plants side, there are the Sunflowers, who aid and heal allies while also having the ability to plant themselves into the ground and shoot out powerful sun beams; Peashooters, who specialize in ranged damage and equip a powerful bomb to wipe out large masses of zombies; the Chomp, a venus fly trap capable of paralyzing, devouring, and swallowing a Zombie whole; and the Cacti, which defend their allies by planting barricades and powerful potato mines.
The Zombies have classes that each work similarly to one of the plants. The Scientist, like the Sunflower, is able to heal Zombie allies while also having the ability to quickly teleport themselves to a further location to dodge Chomps and other dangers; the Foot Soldier is similar to the Pea Shooter in the sense that he also excels at both long-range and close-range combat, proving to be an all-around difficult opponent with his ability to rocket launch into the air; the Engineers fly Zombie Drones and provide defensive protection against burrowing Chomps while also dealing insane amounts of damage with his rockets; and finally, the All-Star uses his football tactics to pummel Plant enemies and provide protection from damage, similarly to the Cacti.
Each class has three skills that they may use, and you must earn stars and level up each class in order to unlock all of their abilities. Sometimes, you may not find yourself too in love with one of the classes, but once you unlock all of their abilities, you will find that there is a world of potential and destruction waiting to happen. However, you will find that you have unlocked all of your skills within just a few rounds of playing as that character. This causes Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare to lose an element that could have given it an even higher addiction level, as many shooter fans have come to expect to be able to work hard and continuously unlock new items. Yet, Garden Warfare put its focus into a different aspect when it comes to unlockables and that is through customization. Playing multiplayer matches and the Garden Warfare mode merits you Coins, with which you can go to the Sticker Shop and purchase Reinforcement Packs, which give you new plants to put in potted plants to amp up your defenses, along with various Sticker Packs. There are different levels of Sticker Packs, with the highest, the 40,000 Coin pack, immediately handing you a rare new character upon purchasing it. Sticker Packs also can hand you new abilities to make your character even more powerful and a force to be reckoned with on the field.
As lovable as Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is, it isn’t without its faults. If you are playing Team Vanquish or Gardens & Graveyards with party members, the majority of the time you won’t know where your friends are, because the names are so small above the characters that you have to really strain and work hard to read what it says. This is a nuisance that we are hoping will get patched, as it makes it difficult to band together with friends and take down Gardens if we have no idea where each other are. In addition, Garden Warfare is quite limited. With only ten maps and three modes, PopCap will need to throw out some DLC to keep gamers enthralled. For now though, Port Scallywag will do just fine, and we are enjoying it to bits.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare’s graphics make it one of the most visually appealing games on the Xbox One to date. The colors are vibrant, bright, and bold, making you feel as if the sun is radiating down on your beautiful garden and being emitted in pure gold by the Sunflowers. The character models are detailed, especially Chomp, with his bright purple tones and viney appearance. Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is a true graphical gem, and its colorful and vibrant tones add to the overt whimsical feeling eradiated on us while playing.
The Plants vs. Zombies series was always known for its amazing soundtrack, and PopCap made sure to maintain that tradition in Garden Warfare. The music playing in the background is silly and happy and just makes it impossible to be angry while playing this game. It is obvious that sound was a quality that was greatly paid attention to, as became noticeable in the Garden Ops mode, where, upon getting the Disco Zombie Boss stage, the music changed to a disco theme. Adding this detail is something that wasn’t necessary, but provided a whole new feeling and amped up the fun. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is all about the details, and all of the little things that make us squeal in childlike delight.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is simply amazing. While it has its issues, they are easily overlooked by all of the enticing, action-packed fun found while playing. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is well worth the admittance price of $40, and we can surely see ourselves playing this game for a long time to come.