Developer: Popcap Games / Publisher: Electronic Arts / Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows / Release Date: 2014 / ESRB: Rating Pending
Plants vs. Zombies has become a fan-favorite among casual and hardcore gamers alike; it’s simple mechanics have pulled in a large audience that’s more than willing to purchase the game a few times on different platforms (let’s be honest, how many of us don’t have Plants vs. Zombies on ALL devices?).
That said, Plants vs. Zombies has always been a tower defense series, so when the announcement came that it was heading down the third-person shooter route, it definitely turned some heads. But it’s a move that’s been positively received, especially since Popcap cracked the first joke with their mock Battlefield teaser. If the gameplay demo is anything to go by, fans have quite a gem to look forward to.
An action multiplayer game, the section of Garden Warfare we viewed was similar to horde mode: you have a group of zombies, who absolutely hate gardens, chilling in their mansion, so you decide to plant one nearby to get them to attack. Four players under different classes are left to defend the garden: a Peashooter, a Sunflower, a Chomper, and a Cactus. Whether or not there will be more classes to choose from is still unknown.
As a Peashooter you shoot powerful projectiles. All plants have rooted abilities (their most powerful attack) and the Peashooter’s unique ability is turning into a turret; for the duration of the attack the Peashooter is immobile, but its high speed shooting is able to mow down multiple zombies at a time. Peashooters can also plant chilly bean bombs, which attract zombies to it then explode. Next is the Chomper, a Venus flytrap, who can travel underground and spring up below zombies to swallow them up, as well as lay traps to make it easier to eat one zombie at a time.
As the always-happy Sunflower, you’re the backbone of the team, making sure everyone is healthy while still doing your part to shoot down zombies. The Sunflower still needs to collect sunlight for power, but when she’s completely energized, her rooted ability is a powerful sunbeam attack that cripples lines of the undead.
Then you have the Cactus, a class best suited for long-range attacks. The Cactus can plant potato mines, and call in a garlic drone, a plant that flies overheard and summons a powerful popcorn missile.
Each level ends with a boss fight, one of which includes the Disco Zombie with his deadly disco ball spinning attack and another is the Gargantuar, with his baby imp, who tries to run everyone over. All four plants must work together to defeat these powerful foes, so there is strategy involved similar to the original games, just now with faster maneuvering.
Garden Warfare seems to embody the cheeky humor of the franchise despite its entirely new coat of paint, and that’s definitely a good thing when trying to persuade an audience on a fresh idea. I commend Popcap for this new move, even if on the surface it seems to adhere to EA’s shooters agenda – let’s see if this turns out as great as we all hope.