Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare Review - Games Weekly

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare Review

PopCap puts the fun into the squad-based shooter
WHEN EA FIRST announced it was turning PopCap’s popular tower defence game into a third-person squad-based shooter, many assumed the publisher was making a joke, and a bad one at that. All you need to know is that despite its preposterous premise, Garden Warfare is some of the silliest fun you’ll have on your PS4.

Honest.As with similar games, Garden Warfare has a class structure with each side featuring healers, snipers, heavy artillery and engineers. They’re not strict mirrors though, meaning each race’s classes will take a fair while to master. Initially you’ll start off with fairly limited skills, and will be thrown various challenges, ranging from killing a specific plant type, to destroying an enemy with a particular weapon. The sheer variety of weaponry on offer is quite impressive while an amusing cutscene shows how to best use the ability in the field. Eventually you’ll have access to
three different skills at a time, each with their own cool-down meters. Cactus can lay potato mines or use drones to shoot enemies from afar, while zombie foot soldiers have jet-propelled jumps and dangerous missiles at their disposal.

Weapons and challenges for each class feel well balanced, but it’s a little too easy to unlock all the available goodies.Speaking of which, there are all sorts of interesting things to discover in Garden Warfare.

The coin currency is used to buy stickers, which grant a number of bonuses that range from respawns in certain game modes to additional plants and zombies and even new character skins. Pleasingly, all of this is free, with no option to buy packets with real money or any other type of microtransaction. Indeed, PopCap and EA should be commended for the amount of content that they have delivered.

Balanced character classes and cool unlockables mean nothing if the core gameplay is no good and sadly, this is where things start to slightly unravel. While PopCap has included a large number of game modes, not all of them are very good. The best is arguably Team Vanquish, which is your good old-fashioned deathmatch, with teams taking it in turns to play as the two races. Garden Ops is equally enjoyable, being a third-person version of the original tower defence game, or Horde Mode, as many will know it. The idea is to create a garden and then guard it from wave after wave of zombies. Plants can be planted in nearby pots to ward off the assault and up to three friends can join you. It’s tough on your own and you’ll eventually run out of plants, meaning you’ll have to buy sticker packs to earn more. It’s a lot of fun, although the boss fights do feel a little unbalanced against smaller teams.

The remaining modes are more of a mixed bunch, ranging from decent to decidedly average. Vanquish Confirmed has you collecting orbs from fallen opponents to boost your credit rating, while Gardens And Graveyards plays like a clunky cut-down version of Battlefield’s Rush Mode. Gnome Bomb, on the other hand, is quite amusing as you must detonate a gnome at specific bases, while fending off attacks from your opponents.

It’s silly fun highlighting that when Garden Warfare works, it works very well indeed. The zaniness is further highlighted by Garden Warfare’s slick visuals. There’s a loony child-like design to the locations, while the 2D characters of the original game look surprisingly great as 3D creations. Sure, the style isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but there’s no denying that PopCap has nailed the atmosphere of its classic game.

It’s a pity then that the maps one of the game’s most important components are one of the weakest aspects. Many of them simply aren’t interesting to play in and their bizarre setup across the various game modes mean you’ll soon get tired of seeing the same few pop up over and over again. The huge focus on team-based play (there’s no single-player campaign) and need for a constant online connection will no doubt put some off as well. Leave those prejudices behind though.

Garden Warfare might not be perfect, but it’s hellishly entertaining, and ultimately that’s what really matters.

Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare - PSN PRICE £34.99


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