With the mere mention of Plants vs Zombies, most people instantly think of the mobile tower defense game that made the name so popular, and it’s logical that they do. With Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, EA has taken the franchise far away from its root as a tower defense game, and turned it into a very interestingly funny third person shooter. For this review, I played the Xbox 360 version of the game, so I wont be able to comment on the extras the Xbox One version has.
My biggest complaint, and know I shouldn’t start a review with the complaints, but you’ll notice this one from the moment you have the box in your hand. The words “ONLINE ONLY” are on the front of the cover, Online Only and Xbox Live Gold required. So that means, EA has decided yet again to make a game have no offline component, and this time require Xbox Live Gold. This was a bit of a disappointment, but it does not get in the way of the game.
The game runs the Frostbite 3 game engine, which makes for some beautiful graphics, with a decent amount of maps. There is no single player offline mode, and the game does lack from a variety of game play types. You have Garden Ops, Team Vanquish, and Garden and Tombstones. To make up for this lack of game modes, the game does give you more than plenty of items, or stickers, to collect to upgrade you’re in-game characters. You “buy” these stickers using coins you gain by playing the game, and achieving challenges.
In Garden Ops, you have to survive as a plant through 12 waves of zombies, each becoming increasingly difficult. You can have up to four players per match, and having more players with you are better, as it makes things much easier. Around level seven, you get a “Mini boss” level, where you get to play the Zomboss slots to choose what you are going to face, and then on the final level you get the same thing. After you finish all the levels, you get around 2 minutes to escape. You have a landing zone to get to and when the time is up, anyone who is in zone, is saved. You get coins depending on completion of challenges, and how many people survive.
The two regular multiplayer modes, neither of which are really much different from normal multiplayer modes in most games, you have Team Vanquish, and Gardens and Tombstones. With that being said, there’s not really much to say about those.
First up is Team Vanquish, which is basically team death match, where you have two teams race to 50 kills, or vanquishes. You have 4 separate classes that you can choose from, each with multiple upgrades that you can use. These upgrades can be purchased through the coins you gain in each match, by buying and collecting stickers. You get to level each class up individually, along with your own overall level.
In Gardens and Tombstones, if you’ve ever played Battlefield you know this game play mode very well. In Battlefield, it’s called Rush. The plants have a certain amount of bases, or gardens to protect from the zombies. Each garden has multiple entry points, with many defense pots where plants can be plated, these can also be purchased with the coins by buying sticker packs. If you’re playing as the zombies, there’s portals and spots to dig up zombie buddies, also unlock-able through sticker packs.
Both Team Vanquish and Gardens and Tombstones give you after match stats, though neither of which keep track of stats from match to match, which can be a welcome relief from other games that keep persistent stats, but will also stop the game from ever becoming a legitimate game for competitive players. While not the biggest of complaints, I can see some people being annoyed by this. The game also doesn’t have any form of party system for the multiplayer, which makes playing with friends almost impossible. When I was able to get into a lobby with 4-5 of my friends, it was an utter chore to get everyone into the same lobby, and even more so to keep everyone on the same team.
While the game has its share of glitches, and small annoyances, overall the game is incredible fun, and definitely a game that could be played for many, many hours. With a few updates to it, adding a party system, persistent stats, and maybe the ability to play Garden Ops offline, this game would be my surprise game of the year.