Who would’ve thought plants and zombies would make natural enemies? When PopCap Games first introduced the world to this epic rivalry in 2009, gamers took an immediate liking to the cute graphics, silly humor and wacky presentation.
Cut to several years later, and our beloved tower defense franchise has blossomed like the sunflower plant into a fun shooter that still stays true to its roots. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 has everything you love about the series with lots of additional content and gameplay improvements.
If you’ve played a PvZ game before, you’ll notice the major difference immediately. Plants and zombies are now on opposite ends of a single map,with some disputed territory in between. There’s a lot of easter eggs and collectibles around the map, along with several fun and potentially addictive mini-games. The plot explains the rivalry between the plants and zombies in a characteristically quirky fashion, and gives you enough to get the ball rolling. Both factions have a lot of personality and it is fun to see how their unique quirks and abilities play out during the game. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Plants vs. Zombies game without a lot of puns.
The central hub area is where players can access all of the different gameplay modes – Graveyard Ops, Garden Ops, single-player and multiplayer. There’s not much in the way of a single-player campaign here. A majority of what you’ll be doing is spending time in the Garden Ops mode with certain limitations, or venturing through the hub world to finish a fetch quest. There aren’t any major action set-pieces or different terrains for you to explore. Even so, once you’ve finished the campaign for either of the factions, the game gives you a nice surprise. Also, if you’re someone who prefers to play alone, you can play all of the modes vs. AI opponents. But be warned, the AI is a lot smarter than before.
Even though the single-player campaign isn’t anything to write home about, the new additions to the roster make everything a lot more colorful. Three additions to the roster on either side bring the total number of characters to 14, each of which handle completely differently and have distinct personalities. All of the characters have distinct movements, attacks, functions and special abilities. You can also build each character slightly differently as you go along, bringing the total number of variations to a staggering 110. Think about that for a second – 110 distinct variations of characters.
You will find the basic archetypes within the makeup of each character. You have tanks, snipers, ranged and melee specialists and spellcasters. Like a MOBA game (Dota2, LoL) each character is weak against certain characters and strong against others. If you’re getting pummeled by an enemy sniper character, you can switch your character to someone who is effective at taking out snipers. This complexity is what makes the action in Garden Warfare 2 so exciting. The dynamics on the battlefield are constantly changing, and you have to think ahead to ensure victory.
No More Star Packs:
Unfortunately, this great system is hampered by the snail-like pace of the progression. You have to level each character individually, making it a slog to get all of your characters to a high-enough level to execute a good strategy. Somewhere around 60-90 minutes of play will give you just enough experience to unlock one passive ability for a character at level 5. When you consider the task of potentially having to level up 110 characters to the current level cap of 50, the problem becomes apparent. The same problem persists in the unlock system. You have to buy sticker packs to gain new costumes, character variants and consumables. The only problem? Those sticker pack drops are completely random. You basically have to pray that a purchase will give you what you need. This is a weird choice by PopCap, and it seems shoehorned in to ensure that gamers will put more hours into the game.
The Multi-player Still Rocks:
Luckily, if you’ve played the original Garden Warfare, you can carry all your characters over to the new game. And if you’re worried about the amount of time you’ll have to spend leveling up your characters, don’t worry. Garden Warfare 2’s multiplayer is still a lot of fun even if you have low level characters. If you make the right strategic moves, you can overcome opponents with more upgraded characters. With a premise as crazy as plants fighting zombies, it is a lot of fun to see all of the weird character interactions and frenzied combat that occurs.
If only the developers made the leveling and unlock system less stingy, Garden Warfare 2 would have been a true classic. As it stands, it is still a deeply enjoyable and strategic shooter with plenty of heart, humor and content. The personality of each of the characters and the quirky presentation make this a testament to the power of gameplay over graphics.
If you name yourself ‘Zelda’ instead of ‘Link’ in ‘The Legend Of Zelda’, you will be able to skip the first quest entirely.