PopCap’s Plants Vs. Zombies, a tower defense game in which players would protect their home and garden from the Zombie hordes by carefully placing a selection of rather aggressive plants, was a phenomenal success and made an appearance on pretty much every gaming platform known to man. The idea of garden plants and vegetables forming the last line of defense against a wide array of quirky undead was so unusual and packed full of humorous opportunity, which PopCap took full advantage of, that the game very quickly became a favorite franchise amongst the gaming public. The comical nature of Plants Vs. Zombies meant that the concept could have spread in many different directions, but I don’t think anyone would have guessed at Garden Warfare, an incredibly entertaining and family friendly class-based shooter, would be the next big hit in the Plants Vs. Zombies universe. So now, we come to Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, a more fully featured sequel to the original shooter.
The original Garden Warfare was very much focused on the multiplayer game, with only a wave-surviving tower defense style mode available for the single player. But Garden Warfare 2 has made many improvements over the first title, filling out the experience for both the multiplayer fans and the solo gamer, and the first of these new additions is introduced to the player after a short tutorial. Welcome to the Backyard Battleground.
Acting as a central hub to the game, the Backyard Battleground is a living environment from which players can access all of the different modes. But it is much more than just a mere vehicle for the menu, as the area holds many secrets and enough action to fully occupy the player for hours. Backyard Battleground is split between the lush green plant controlled area and the grey and gloomy Zombie base of operations. Players will find themselves based in the area belonging to whichever faction they are choosing to play as. In between these two base areas is the no-man’s land where the battle for suburbia is constantly raging, and players are free to jump in and represent their faction whenever they choose. Exploring the surrounding areas will reveal secret chests and yet more enemy combatants for the player to gain experience fighting. The Backyard Battleground really is huge and packed full of stuff to do and see.
Each of the home bases also give access to everything else that a player would want to do. Vending machines allow the player to buy sticker packs. These packs, which have varied prices and contents, provide consumables and reinforcements, along with all manner of customisation options for the various different plants and Zombies. They may also contain some multipart stickers that can unlock character variants, of which there are many, giving the player a different look and different powers for a certain character. These variants can take a long time to collect and unlock, but are one of the driving forces of the game.
There is a booth where the player can swap out their character for one of the others they have unlocked. They can also apply the various customisation options from the stickers they have purchased, such as a new hat or tattoo, to make their chosen character stand out in the battlefield. In the Backyard Battleground, players will also find the various portals to the different modes of play.
The wave-surviving, tower defense style mode, in which the player runs around setting defenses from their stash of reinforcement stickers and fights off wave after wave of enemies, returns for both the plants and Zombies factions. However, specially for the solo player, there is now a campaign mode which basically has the player follow a loose story while taking on a variety of different missions that are based on the various modes in the game in exchange for cash, experience and special badges. Packed full of humor, the career manages to be highly entertaining while still giving new player some insight into the different modes and characters they can play as.
However, the meat of the game is the multiplayer, and in Garden Warfare 2 it is better than ever. This time around, the multiplayer matches, with all of their various different modes of play, is not just an online thing. If playing with other real world opponents is not something you fancy, or if you want to play some split-screen local, then any of the multiplayer modes can be played with AI bots, and there are loads of ways to customise matches. Everything in the game is available to the solo player, which is great news indeed.
When it comes to the multiplayer, Garden Warfare 2 has a nice selection of different modes and some really incredible maps across which to play. But a class-based shooter rises and falls on the strength of its classes. The eight classes from the first game, four for each faction, return and are just as much fun to play with as ever. Peashooter, Sunflower, Chomper and Cactus for the plants, and Foot Soldier, Engineer, Scientist and All-star for the Zombies, all play just how they did in the first game. But it is the new additions that are the real stars of the show…
The plant faction get the futuristic, rolling Citron, the mystical Rose and the tough as nails Kernel Corn, while the Zombies get the super heroic Super Brainz, the pirate Captain Deadbeard, and the little Imp, who just happens to be able to call down a mech for massive destruction. Each of these new classes have their place on the battlefield, and it will be up to the player to learn how to use these brilliant new characters and abilities to their best effect. With the massive multiplayer battles, these new classes add yet more variety to an already incredibly varied game.
New classes, new modes, an open-world central game hub, and plenty of love for the solo player. Garden Warfare 2 is the game that just keeps on giving. It looks great, sounds brilliant, and is so damn funny. What’s more, the game plays perfectly. For shooter fans, there really is only one reason for not picking up Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, and that is if you like your shooters serious. There is nothing serious here, and that is part of the appeal. If you need seriousness and angst in your shooter, then maybe look elsewhere. Otherwise, grab Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 now and have some fun.