Believe it or not, back when the sequel to the original Garden Warfare was announced, it instantly became one of my most anticipated games of 2016. But when you launch a game in the same launch window as a game that was as anticipated as Tom Clancy’s The Division, you’re always going to struggle to get some, if not any of the limelight. Which is a shame given just how brilliant Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 really is.
We first got to grips with the game earlier in the year when the multiplayer beta went live, giving those looking to make the purchase a chance to get their roots in with some of the new features. And if seems EA and Popcap have been slightly more ambitious in that respect, sprouting many new features to help enhance the overall experience of Garden Warfare 2. But the question remains of course, is this new game worth the money?
Well we’re going to break down what we’ve learned so far. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time with Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 since it launched last month so hopefully we can help you make that all important decision. So let’s start with that price point. The original title was never really marketed as a mainstream game and cost a mere £25 here in the United Kingdom when it launched on the Xbox One. The success of this title saw it branch out onto the PS4 where it became even more successful. That overall success has blossomed into Garden Warfare 2, which is now available as a full price game, so it needs to be a pretty big improvement over the old title.
In terms of visual upgrades though you’re not going to notice much of a difference in terms of the graphics from the previous game, but then how could you? It pretty much looked as good as it could get and I’m pleased to say that it seems that the additional investment the sequel received has been better spent in other areas. Earlier in the article you heard me mention the new features, well there’s quite a lot to list. To start with, EA and Popcap have more or less done away with the traditional menu system. Instead, upon starting the game you’re thrown into your own personal PvZ playground, a home base if you like which can be explored. However, this base is just one part of a much bigger map. On the one side you have the Plants, the other you have the Zombies and in the middle, contest territory.
From here you can really get your roots in with the game. There are several interactive points dotted around your base which upon activating will let you explore game modes, characters, the in-game store and in-game quests among other things. Or, if the mood takes you, you can launch yourself from a cannon into ground zero, where you’ll have AI controlled opponents to battle against. If you want to jump into multiplayer, activate the portal, choose your playlist and step into the mayhem that is PvZ online.
Altogether, Garden Warfare 2 is a much bigger game than that of its predecessor. The original focused on multiplayer whereas the new game also features a single-player campaign for both the Plants and the Zombies which sees you completing a number of missions to help develop your character roster. This is great for when you simply can’t be bothered with the rest of the world. However, focus is clearly on the multiplayer.
And that’s what this game is really all about, there’s a total of 14 different “classes” in the game each with their own unique abilities, 7 on each side represented by very different, hilarious characters. 6 of these are all new with each class consisting of several differently themed variations which can be unlocked as you progress, just to add to the huge amounts of variety in this game. The way you level these characters has changed from the annoying challenge based system from the last game. Before, players would have to complete a set list of tasks in order to level their characters but Garden Warfare 2 has settled for an overall more conventional “shoot stuff and grow” way of doing things.
Competitive multiplayer has also somewhat been fertilized. There’s a total of 7 competitive game modes which will see you pitted against an opposing team of players each with its own twist. “Turf Takeover” is the latter here however. 24 players, 2 teams fighting head to head to gain supremacy of an ever-expanding map. Much like the rush mode of the Battlefield series, one team will fight to push to a final objective capturing points along the way. This isn’t new to the series of course but whereas the old game just featured “Gardens & Graveyards”, Turf Takeover allows the Zombies to play as the offensive team with the “Herbal Assault” variation.
Other game modes included are; The Welcome Mat, for newer players; Team Vanquish, PvZ’s take on Team Deathmatch; Gnome Bomb, which has a search and destroy/domination feel about it; Vanquish Confirmed, or Kill Confirmed to the Call of Duty fan, and finally Surburbination, which is just domination with Gardens and Graveyards instead of the conventionally boring flags that we’re all used to. However if you’re struggling to make your mind up there’s always mixed mode which “features every competitive game mode in one amazing place”, to quote the description. The maps these modes are subjected to are beautifully detailed in that slap-stick, cartoony style we know and love. They also seem a lot more thought out than those of the previous game, providing a lot more verticality and changes in elevation.
Co-op mode was another big part of the previous game, Garden Ops to be more precise, and I’m delighted to be able to say it’s returned in the new game. But whereas before the focus was on the Plants side of things, Garden Warfare 2 now also gives the Zombies a bit of co-operative attention. Think of it as Gears of War horde mode. You and 3 mates against wave after wave of increasingly aggressive, highly organised… Plants… I don’t really think I need to elaborate more than that.
So, I think I’ve covered the roots of the game there, but the question remains is this game worth your money? I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Yes, absolutely, whether you’re anticipating a game coming later in the year or still plowing your way through some of the fantastic titles that launched in 2015 you should most definitely buy this game. There’s plenty to be admired here, fantastic gameplay, hilarious visuals and sound, brilliant dynamics and tonnes of content. Obviously, this is far in a way from the hardcore shooter we’ve become used to in the world of gaming, but that’s exactly what gives PvZ: Garden Warfare 2 its charm.
It has everything we loved from the last game plus extras thrown in to make the overall experience as varied as possible. And the true beauty of this game is that it’s just plain, good ol’ fashioned fun! Whether you’re winning or losing it’s near enough impossible to take Garden Warfare 2 too seriously. It has competitive elements which are easy enough to get sucked into, but then you turn another player into a goat or start riding a bucking and you’re pretty much going to forget any of the typical frustration that can come from playing shooters.
So far, I’ve been extremely impressed with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, it’s far more than the expansion on the old game I feared it would be. There’s so much to love and with exception to a couple of disconnections from the EA servers, I’m yet to find much I dislike. The kids are also going to love it too. Take a leaf out of my book and get this game!
Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is now available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
[Source: The wonderful world of Matt’s brain]