2 years ago, the third-person shooter genre became overgrown with plants, weeds and plundered by a zombie invasion. That’s right, the traditional Plants vz Zombies was uprooted from its 2D tower defense origins, turning the defensive battle into an all out war in glorious 3D, bringing us the craziest shooter yet! So here we are 2 years later with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. Has either side managed to dig out all those pesky weeds or annihilate the zombie incursion? Read on to find out!
Game: Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
(Review copy provided by publisher)
Ah! Welcome to Suburbia! This town has it all; Sunshine, Green Grass and Fresh Air! Why, it’s as pretty as a picture! That is to say that’s what I would love to be able to sell you; that postcard was ripped in two and the billboard…well, smashed into splinters. 2 years on, Crazy Dave and his Plants were unable to fend off Dr. Zomboss and his legion of Zombies. Suburbia has been conquered, blighted and renamed Zomburbia. The Plants have truly had their petals ruffled by the Zombies so now it’s their turn to go on the offensive to reclaim what is left of their hometown. There are 2 sides to every coin, every story and even to toast (don’t worry, once you play all will make sense…or will it?) but your journey is down to you. Will you say no to photosynthesis and chomp on some juicy brainz, root out any sign of organic life or will you play as a double agent?
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a sequel to its predecessor, Garden Warfare and maintains much of its unique qualities along with sprouting some new buds in the form of new characters, game modes and locations that are sure to excite new and old players alike. For those new to the series, be sure to check out my review of the original here to discover its roots and the original game modes that make a return in Garden Warfare 2.
Garden Warfare 2 is still rocking its 80’s inspired synthpop tracks that intensify the crazy energy of those fierce battles and its many quirky charms. Indeed it is fun and whimsical, but nothing prepared me for that introduction! Plants vs Zombies will have you jumpin’ off the deck and shovin’ into overdrive (gold star if you get this hint) and if there was anything that could set the right tone in true 80’s style for this game then I could not have picked a better tune! So did anyone get my hint? Well if you guessed ‘Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone’ then spot on! As a fan of the original I was already hyped for this second outing but my, this just thrust me right into the Danger Zone of excitement!
If that tune alone wasn’t enough to enliven your senses then the graphics will certainly make your eyes pop. The depth of detail is still as stunning as before, I just cant get over how vibrant the world is; it really has been lovingly crafted and polished (literally everything just glows with such a warm or dead intensity). Every location you enter is like walking into a candy store, with vivid, colourful juicy jelly beans and rainbow lollipops that just make your eyes sparkle and your mouth water.
The gameplay experience brought to us in Garden Warfare provided hours of gripping multiplayer. Whilst the varying character classes brought a little something for everyone, the game was heavily focused on the multiplayer aspect, offering little solo play for those who wanted a more local battle. Well, PopCap have definitely listened to your feedback and Garden Warfare 2 is Bigger than ever before! This is the best PvZ experience you could hope to get and as previously, there will be regular free updates that will water this plant and keep it growing! There is however one important thing to mention. Whilst there are now solo modes, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is still an online game and requires an active internet connection to play as there is sadly no offline capability. It is also possible that gameplay can be interrupted due to a lost connection to EA servers. I found myself periodically being disconnected which caused a mild annoyance. Thankfully, this was quite rare and I was able to continue on with my experience more times than not.
The biggest and most impressive new addition is where you first make your stand. As a lone sunflower you manage to grow in the bleakest and most unexpected of times and are rescued by Crazy Dave, brining you to the Backyard. This new location acts as your hub from where you can venture into solo or multiplayer action and customise your characters. In the original you would simply be taken to a screen with various panels to scroll through before jumping into the action; I was stunned at how far it has come, it’s a whole new PvZ world! Forget multiplayer, it is so easy to lose yourself here (seriously you can get lost!) as there is so much to do! Well first things first is picking a side, you can remain on Team Plants or swap over quickly to the dead side via a rather handy promotional booth (though I seriously question why it wasn’t instantly shot down in either camp!). You can then head on over to the customisation booth and select your character. Making a classic return for the Plants are the Peashooter, Sunflower, Chomper and Cactus. This time round there are no fun introductions for these guys, relying you to either have existing knowledge or just diving straight in. There are three new Plants introduced that do come with short introductions. First up is Citron; this juicy guy has a tough peel equipped with the latest bio-citronics! He can roll right into the action and take down Zombies like a bunch of bowling pins then zap his enemies whilst withstanding damage with his shield. Rose has many magic tricks up her thorns and adds a more RPG feeling to combat. Her base attack can home in and target nearby Zombies with little need for high accuracy whilst they are caught in her Time Snare. If your really feeling naughty then a quick zap of her wand can instantly turn zombies into goats! (Yes it’s a thing.) Sadly Rose is highly overpowered, throwing off balance but PopCap and EA are aware of this and will be resolving the issue shortly. Finally Kernal Corn will have Zombies spitting popcorn before you can say cob! Perfect for the front lines this quick shooter can barrage enemies with steaming potatoes and make it rain butter, whilst taking death defying leaps over enemy lines.
Team Zombies welcome back the Foot Soldier, Engineer, Scientist and All-Star with a few tweaked abilities which helps balance out the power against the Plants. New life has sprung into the dead with three new Zombies to play. The Imp is a tiny little guy and the most fragile but with rapid fire capabilities. If he is able to scurry away for long enough he can soon turn the tables on you by bringing out the Z-Mech (or shrimp!) for some devastating blows. Super Brainz is your hunky dead guy! Boasting both short and long range attacks he certainly packs a punch! Beware his Super Ultra Ball which is his very own Kamehameha (or Hadouken!). Lastly there is Captain Deadbeard (the least impressive in my opinion). His Parrot Pal can cause eggsplosions from above whilst he goes on the defensive in a barrel or rides rodeo on a cannon. Some may say he came in like a wrecking ball! There are now a total of 14 classes to play with over 100 variations! New characters can be unlocked by purchasing Sticker Packs using in game currency, no need for real money here! These packs also include fun items to customise your characters appearance, with even more crazy costumes than before. Now PopCap are rewarding player loyalty by allowing you to import previous characters over to Garden Warfare 2, along with extra rewards dependant on your past rank up until 2017! If you decided to switch consoles then have no fear, as long as you use the same Origin account they will transfer across consoles too! Another issue PopCap has resolved is character progression; now everything you do earns you XP and coins so you can purchase more sticker packs and level up faster, something which seemed to take hours on end to achieve previously. Upon reaching level 10 characters can be promoted via the adorable character bobbleheads in the Stat Room. Here you can see a collection of all the character variants you have unlocked, a quirky way to help spur you on to unlock them all. (Now I want some for my room!)
If you want to kick off Solo Play there are now a plethora of options available at your roots. Even better still is that every mode allows you to play solo with intelligent AI’s of which you can even switch between during some modes, allowing you to diversify your experience and get accustomed to each class. (Along with taking off the heat!) Quests can now be accepted via the new Quest Board that will set you tasks to complete in all modes. This board will be updated regularly, always giving you something new to come back for. Completing quests will earn you a limited XP multiplier, along with stars and coins which can be used to unlock chests and clear rubble for new customisation items for both your hub and characters. Each side now has a more developed story. For example, as a new solo agent of the L.E.A.F organisation (The League of Extraordinary Action Foliage) you must help Dave-bot 3000 and the other Top Secret Agents thwart the plans of Dr. Zomboss and his Zombies.
Do not let the tranquillity of the hub or that sparkly rainbow fool you, as you walk out that gate and the further on the edge you go, the hotter the intensity! Welcome to the new Backyard Battleground, where a stalemate rages on in the centre of Suburbia between Plants and Zombies! Go ahead and join the infinite battle and you will soon be sucked into the fray, you can almost forget there is a multiplayer element at all! As the battle rages on, waves intensify for an epic battle against AI opponents. You may bump into some old enemy bosses like the Disco Zombie or fight alongside allied bosses like the new Giga Torchwood. If you fancy raising the stakes, raise the Flag of Power for a boost in attack and defence with AI reinforcements, just beware of INSANE ENDLESS MODE! Things can get pretty weedy out there, so if going solo becomes too much then you can now enter split screen on the same console with a friend, no longer is this restricted to Garden Ops! You can also invite up to 3 friends at the hub for co-op local play or join another friends hub. Friends however are unable to assist you on quests.
It is wonderful that so much Solo Play has been introduced to PvZ, fans could not wish for more. Multiplayer fans have no need to fear though, the real roots of the game still lie in its PvZ multiplayer modes. All the classics and DLC from Garden Warfare return, such as Gardens & Graveyards, Team Vanquish and Suburbination, all offering you the usual chaotic fun. There are some fantastic new modes available along with 12 new maps, why the fight for Suburbia has even been taken to space! One new mode introduced is Graveyard Ops. Much like Garden Ops the roles are now reversed and the Zombies are for the first time on the defensive from the Plants attacks until Dr. Zomboss can swoop in for the rescue. Herbal Assault is another role reversal of Gardens & Graveyards. Now the zombies must defend various tombstones across the map before the plants can transform them into gardens. I had not forgotten how fun these 24 player matches could be! I have spent many more hours filled with rage, yelling curses at my TV. Maybe it’s down to the role reversal but actually despite the gap between Garden Warfare 2 and its predecessor I actually fared much better, even claiming a Top Performer spot and Boasts multiple times (YAY!).
I hope you are now excited about Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 as much as I am! As huge fan of the original never did I imagine that it could be topped as much as this; PopCap, a huge 24 Peashooter salute to you! The Multiplayer is just as berserk as ever, and as a proud member of Team Plants it’s nice to finally go on the offensive! They really have outdone themselves with the Solo Play; it is so easy to immerse yourself that I spent hours just roaming around finding snow globes and exploring secret tunnels. There may be a few issues here and there but EA will have them solved in no time, they really are commited to giving you the best experience. It’s Bigger, Badder, Bigger and Crazier than ever and it will have you rooted for a long time to come. Now come face me in a match of PvZ!