Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare was such a nice surprise. By saying that I don't mean the E3 announcement cause back then well, it sounded like a stupid idea. What I mean is how surprised, in a good way, was I after playing it.
The whole premise of it, a multiplayer only third person perspective game where plants fight zombies with rockets, bombs and lasers, sounds well, dumb. But for some magical reason, it totally works and it's a heck of a lot of fun. Now as you know Plants vs Zombies started its life as a tower defense game where you planted plants with different abilities to prevent the zombies from reaching the house. Somehow the devs figured out how to translate all that into a funny, but most importantly, working third person shooter experience.
Being a multiplayer only game you would expect a slew of modes to keep you engaged for quite a while and I can say that Garden Warfare has a variety of modes. Among the standard modes like Team Deathmatch and Conquest/Domination, there are some other interesting modes that Battlefield and Call of Duty players know very well. The first is a like a Rush mode in Battlefield the attackers, in this case the zombies, have to overtake a garden and the defenders, the plants, have to prevent that. If they manage to successfully defend it for a set time, they win the game. If they don't and the zombies manage to run it down, a new area of the map opens up and the match continues just like in the Rush mode. If the zombies manage to destroy every garden, the final one is a sudo special event as they have to destroy a giant sunflower or something cool like that. It a very satisfying thing to pull off and a lot of fun with 24 players running around and killing each other with silly abilities and weapons.
Another mode is like Kill Confirmed from Call of Duty in which after you kill an enemy you have to collect "the dogtags" or in this case an orb to raise the score. I enjoyed this mode, but not as much as I was hopping to. The problem with this mode is that the characters from each side move slowly and nine out of ten times you would end up dead while you were trying to pick up the orb of the enemy you just killed. Maybe if the characters moved a little faster only in this mode, it would be more interesting.
The other mode which is picked up straight from Battlefield is Gnome Bomb which is just like the Obliterate mode. Each team has 3 stations that needs to protect while trying to destroying those of the opposing team with the gnome bomb that spawns in random parts of the map. The mode is as frantic and fun as it is on Battlefield minus the tanks, jets and jeeps. Oh there's also a "knockoff" Commander mode, but it's not even worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning is the welcomed split-screen cause playing with a friend is always double the fun :)
So this is the competitive part of the multiplayer. The other part is the cooperative one which is called Garden Ops. In this mode, you with up to three other friends as plants have to protect a garden while hordes of zombies attack you in waves. The more waves you survive, the harder it becomes where in the final waves you might have to fight against powerful bosses like the Yeti Zombie, Disco Zombie etc. This mode is the closest thing to the tower defense gameplay of the original Plants vs Zombies game. Spread out around the garden there are these pots where you can plant well, plants with different abilities.
Which serves as a perfect segway to talk about the microtransactions and the packs system. To plant, again, plants you need to have them in stock and you do that by buying Reinforcement Packs in the game. You buy these packs using in game currency which you earn by playing the game and completing challenges. Now hearing the word microtransactions in a game is always irritating. However I am glad to say that the "pay2win" bullsh@t is not present in Garden Warfare. Sure you can buy coins with real money to speed up the unlock process, but you are not forced to do that.The normal progression is kinda fast since the matches you complete give out large amounts of coins which you can use to buy these packs. Other than buying reinforcements, you can also buy pack that unlock customization options for the zombies or plants like hats, beards, glasses etc, upgrades to specific classes and totally unique characters per class.
Speaking of classes, there are four available for each of the teams. On Team Plants you have the Peashooter, the Cactus, the Chomper and the Sunflower while on Team Zombie you have the Foot Soldier, Engineer, Scientist and the All-Star. The Peashooter slowly shoots well, peas but can also throw bombs or become basically a fast shooting pea turret. The Cactus functions as a sniper, but can also place potato mines and barriers. The Chomper chomps, but can also shoot goo to slow down the zombies, place traps and burrow underground. The Sunflower serves as the plant's medic with the ability to throw down potted sunflowers that function as med-packs, but can also become a laser turret which deals devastating damage to the zombies. As for the Zombies in the other hand, each one of the classes has one or two abilities that counter the ones the plants have.
You have to play the game to see yourself how balanced it feels even though in paper it might not look like it. Spotted a Chomper underground? Throw a sonic grenade as an Engineer to stop him. See a Cactus that is snipping behind a potato barrier? Easy, perform a devastating dash with the All-Star clearing out the barrier and killing the Cactus in the process. Every match is filled with opportunities like this, that make the moment to moment gameplay that more interesting.
As for the visuals and presentation, this game looks absolutely stunning running at a beautiful 1080p at 60fps. The characters look incredibly cute brimming with that Pixar's magic look and feel. The maps are well designed with a lot of attention to details and a surprising amount of destructible objects. In the sound department, the music is awesome and the "voice over" for either plants and zombies is just the cherry on top. Hearing the cutely muffled voices immerses you even more into this silly universe. Everything in the presentation is just perfect.
Bottom Line: Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is a fantastic game. It's funny, weird and well balanced. Sure more variety would have been nicer such as more modes or more ways to unlock stuff, but what is there is well worth the price. It looks bloody good and it will always bring a smile to you face. The only major problem I have with the game is the always online DRM meaning that if you are not connected to PSN or EA Servers the game will not work. Please EA get rid of that sh@t. Thanks for reading!