PopCap Games proudly presents its third person shooter spin-off of the Plants vs Zombies series with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare.
You’ve played this series for hours. You’ve blocked the outside world as soon as you booted up the first and second games. Chances are high that you probably downloaded the initial release in this addictive mobile game franchise onto your PS3. The Xbox One is about to get in on the plants and zombies’ ongoing clash with a new take on the action.
PopCap Games was granted the video game development engine that is famous for making Battlefield 3 look so damn good – the Frostbite 3 engine. This dev engine helps the graphics shine and retain the fun-loving, light hearted mood of the Plants vs Zombies world. The zombies and plants still sport their defining characteristics from the mobile entries. The familiar sounds of pea shooters being blasted off and the grunts of shambling zombies have been placed into this offshoot game as well. The main stage that my demo took place in was primarily a medium wide parking lot/residential area. The cartoon-esque vibe and visuals look even better with a 3D sheen plastered onto them.
Some of the more familiar plant and zombie classes will be available for play during the multiplayer skirmishes. On the plants side, the Peashooter, Chomper, Sunflower and Cactus come to play (well, kill zombies more than play with zombies). The zombies contingent includes the Foot Soldier, Engineer Zombie, Scientist Zombie and the All-Star Zombie. Each of these selectable characters comes with their own primary attacks and special moves. For instance, the Peashooter has a primary pea cannon, a powerful Gatling pea attack, chili bean explosives and a hyper ability that upgrades the Peashooter’s speed and jumping ability. Taking on the form of the all powerful All-Star Zombie grants you a Football Cannon, a secondary Imp weapon that can be sent out as explosive minions, a Tackle Dummy that provides cover and a Sprint Tackle move that mows on through advancing enemy plants. Every breed of plant and zombie has access to specific weapons/abilities that suit several player styles.
The game itself is heavy on the multiplayer skirmishes seen in other third-person shooters. Everything handles like your typical games from the genre. The team deathmatch mode I played in can hold up to 24 players, which is indeed a good number for this type of game. On the battlefield, your mission is to help your team gain 50 kills. The hilarity ensues as soon as the pea bullets and footballs start flying. Things get chaotic real fast as regenerating health stations are laid down, plants gang up on solo zombies, and explosive Imps blow plants to kingdom come. Allies can be revived, which is a welcome element seen in other shooters. The chaotic music always ramps up as time winds down and the final kills are being doled out. Thanks to the simple control scheme, hilarious action and familiar character antics, the fun factor goes through the roof. This may be the multiplayer shooter that’s safe for the young ones and the old folks who are way too attached to their Wii bowling.
During these big multiplayer matches, there’s missions that directly lead to the upgrading of your chosen plant or zombie. Some missions may ask you to burrow underground a certain number of times or land 15 hits with your primary weapon in hand. Completing such challenges helps your chosen character gain new levels/ranks, which also leads to picking up more coins. That in turn leads to the purchase of card packs that unlock a wealth of new in-game contact. The addictive multiplayer shoot ‘em up gameplay and unlocking meta-game system means there’s tons of things to see and do.
The plants and zombies at your disposal can be changed after every death you suffer. Keeping the same character is an option, too. Dedicated players may end up attached to one character, since each plant/zombie can be fully customized. Some of the customization options are purely cosmetic, while other options affect the game and your character completely. Going into battle as a super-powered Sunflower is a viable option if you equip it with the right items. Your customized characters will be available for play in a number of planned gameplay modes, such as 4 player co-op, single-player missions, two-player split screen, etc.
My time spent with this incredibly fun shooter was a great one. Look out for the official release of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare on February 25, 2014 exclusively on the Xbox One. And how much will it cost you, you ask? Just $40.