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Review

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Review

  • Game release: February 18, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • XONE
Robert Handlery on Google+

Green day.

Competitive shooters are serious business. They depict epic battles between modern-day soldiers and insurgents in war-torn cities, or conflicts between space marines and aliens on distant worlds, or skirmishes between battle-hardened men and subterranean creatures who try to slice each other to bits with rifle-mounted chainsaws. There's nothing wrong with any of that, but there's also no reason the broadly appealing mechanics of multiplayer shooters always need to be married to grim scenarios.

That's what makes Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare so enticing. Mechanically, it's solid, if unsurprising. It distinguishes itself from other shooters not through its gameplay, but by successfully couching familiar shooter action in the bright and playful world of the Plants vs. Zombies games. Still, the package is a bit thin, even at the $40 asking price that the game carries on the Xbox One.

Garden Warfare is primarily a team-based multiplayer game. (The Garden Ops mode can be played solo or split-screen locally with one other player, but all other modes require you to hop online.) Each mode has you siding with either the plants or the zombies as the age-old...er, four-year-old conflict between them rages on. As in so many competitive shooters, gameplay is class-based. There are four basic units on each side; among the plants, there's the well-rounded peashooter, whose pea cannon does splash damage, and the sunflower, whose heal beam can give allies the extra vitality they need to survive a shootout. The zombie army includes the engineer, who can call in a drone to attack enemies from the air and rain down explosive, traffic-cone-shaped death on those pesky plants. They've also got the all-star, a zombie in a football getup whose pigskin-shooting cannon takes a second to spin up but does lots of damage once it gets going.

The game does a good job of balancing out the abilities on each side. The chomper can burrow underground, get under an enemy, and burst forth to swallow him whole--a wonderfully satisfying move to pull off--but nearby zombie engineers can use their sonic grenades to stun all nearby plants, forcing burrowed chompers out of the ground in the process. And the game makes defensive abilities just as important as offensive ones. The cactus's potato mines can fortify a location against zombies who are too reckless to look where they're going, and the all-star's dummy shield can absorb enemy fire. In Garden Warfare, as in most of the better competitive shooters on the market these days, you're not always focused on killing members of the other team; you're trying to use the variety of abilities at your disposal to most effectively support your team.

Look into the face of the flower that vanquished you and despair.

In Team Vanquish games, the best way to support your team is, in fact, to kill members of the other team. This playlist pits teams of up to 12 against each other in a race to 50 kills (though the game never uses that violent word, opting for "vanquishes" instead), and encourages you to revive fallen teammates, which subtracts the point the opposing team earned for killing your buddy from its tally. More dynamic are the battles of the Gardens & Graveyards playlist, in which plants work together to prevent zombies from capturing key points on the map.

Only one point is contested at any time, so battles for those points are heated, and if the zombies succeed in pushing the plants back to the last battleground on a map, there's an enjoyable endgame goal the undead have to accomplish. On one map, zombies launch themselves through a cannon to an island to assault the megaflower, and on another, they have to assault Crazy Dave's mansion, which is defended by cannons that launch massive nuts that roll down the driveway like bowling balls.

There's also the cooperative Garden Ops game type, in which up to four players defend a garden from waves of AI-controlled zombies. If you survive all the waves, there's a Left 4 Dead-style escape attempt that some players may survive while others may not, making for some exciting and desperate final moments. But the AI zombie hordes aren't as clever, or as enjoyable to mow down, as player-controlled opponents, so Garden Ops lacks the liveliness of the competitive modes. Whatever mode you play, the maps give you plenty of opportunity to try using the terrain to your advantage. The zombie foot soldier can use his rocket jump to launch onto rooftops, and the cactus's long-range spike shot makes her a good choice when you'd rather try to stay back from the front lines and pick off enemies from afar.

The ability to put defensive plants in flower pots gives Garden Warfare's gameplay the slightest whiff of classic Plants vs. Zombies tower defense.

There are tons of unlockables in Garden Warfare. Coins you earn as you play (and that, at least for now, cannot be purchased with real money) can be spent to purchase sticker packs that contain everything from accessories like sunglasses for your sunflower to character variations, like the dapper agent pea, who sacrifices the standard peashooter's splash damage for a damage bonus on critical hits. It's frustrating that you can't influence which class variant you work toward unlocking next, though. Even if you buy the 40,000-coin sticker pack that guarantees you a character unlock, it could be any character; you can't improve your chances of getting that specific class variant you've seen other players using and really want to try out.

While the unlockables fit right in with the whimsical spirit of the Plants vs. Zombies franchise, you're left feeling like Garden Warfare needed a little something more to make it a meal rather than a side salad. Still, it's that rare shooter whose world and characters might put a smile on your face, making it a refreshing entry in a genre that usually takes itself really seriously.

The Good
Pleasantly lighthearted tone and colorful, appealing environments
Good assortment of well-balanced class abilities
Gardens & Graveyards game type fosters fun, hotly contested battles
The Bad
A bit insubstantial for a $40 game
Process for unlocking class variants is frustratingly random
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Carolyn got way into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's multiplayer years back but hasn't gotten pulled into a competitive shooter in quite a while. She spent about six hours playing Garden Warfare at an event hosted by EA, and another four hours in a scheduled online session. There is no place for a garden in her apartment building.

Discussion

165 comments
tacoma1972
tacoma1972

Wish this dude had less reviews. Can't stand his voice.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

Do game developers even understand the attraction of their own games anymore? Part of what made Plants VS Zombies so fun was that it was just simple, clean (graphically), full of content, and fun. It doesn't work any better in 3D, even if you make it basically just another online shooter.

Fire_Wa11
Fire_Wa11

If you enjoy this game I might also recommend....


Go-THAM

City Im-POS-tors

Sung to the theme of

STAR Wars

dah dah dah daaaaaaaaaah.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Maybe you want to look at Penny Arcade's webcomic for this game. XD

www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2014/02/28

vylasni
vylasni

This game is already a huge hit with my kids. The lack of split screen play on 360 is a disappointment. The review fails to highlight that it's only available on X1. Would be nice to see them offer it up in a patch though.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Ugh she reviewed it.....not even going to bother to read it. Off to another site i go.

oflow
oflow

whens this coming out on pc or ios?

tzolynski
tzolynski

With free DLC coming and the servers up and running im having a good time with this game. Dinner time yesterday they were a mess but late last night and every time i played today i had no issues.

RighteousNixon
RighteousNixon

PopCap announced that there would be FREE DLC updates on a monthly basis, with new maps and game modes. That makes the 40 dollar price tag FAR more reasonable in my book. This game is just a breath of fresh air and just a blast to play. Picked it up and put the controller down like 6 hours later. I would give this game an 8.5 myself. Then again, I can't remember the last game review I actually agreed with. Its been at least 6-9 months, maybe even longer. IMO, a lot of these reviewers need to take some time away from gaming. Everyone needs a break from time to time, even professional reviewers. Actually, especially professional reviewers. 

kargion
kargion

Game is fun, 40 bucks i think is steep, but I am having a blast.

seany_lad
seany_lad

Actually looks like a lot of fun. Might have to try it out.

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

This is probably the first review I liked that Carolyn has done.  Maybe its because Carolyn doesnt bring in her personal bs into the review.

samus_my_life
samus_my_life

i tried it last night ... umm it's great but it's much funnier when u play splits screen lol :) 8.5 out 10 is the best 

jeremy-
jeremy-

With Thief's discounts, this is priced pretty much the same... So you are comparing the value proposition of these games pretty closely.


Is this really more fun than thief? Okay, so we consider them per genre... does it subjectively do a better job and the MP shooter genre than Thief does to the stealth genre? 


COMMON MAN!!!!!!!!!


Cant we all just hate EA together in peace?

tzolynski
tzolynski

EA servers are kind of shit show right now... Having a hard time getting into games but they are saying the servers are gonna be shut down for a half hour tonight to fix them it says.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Axass

"Professionallism" is a loaded phrase if you can't cite any official convention to compare the work of a so-called "professional" against. ;)

PyreofKoL
PyreofKoL

Can't wait to try it out. Just picked up my copy.

Maj_Wood
Maj_Wood

Concept is ridiculous but looks like a lot of fun

sherv490
sherv490

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare>titanfail

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

huh, looks kind of fun, and I thought it was gonna be a terrible POS cash-in,  it's nice to be wrong sometimes!

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

Looks to me like they should have included more dark/halloween themed maps considering there are zombies in this.

faraany3k3k
faraany3k3k

The game is getting low scores because of limited content.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Just got done playing the game a bit and it was pretty fun. I had no idea it cost $40 though. I wouldn't have guessed it was that much from playing it. While a great game I would have guessed it was $20 max.

oflow
oflow

@juliana9  its cool I got it on XBOXONE  best game currently out by a mile. 

Its like team fortress 2 but with funnier mechanics.

keviac
keviac

@WolfGrey Shes not my fav reviewer but not the worst. I get the impression you have an underlying homophobia.

Avalanched
Avalanched

@daikkenaurora12 I don't always agree with every component of Carolyn's reviews but she is just bringing up a point about a game like anyone else should. In GTA5 (the most infamous of reviews) she said she didn't like how women are portrayed. All she is saying if there are any people out there who share her particular point of view and are sensitive to things like that, it might detract from their game experience. It detracted from her personal game experience doesn't mean it has to detract from anyone else's,

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

@daikkenaurora12  

Well to be fair its hard for her to do it with zombies and plants.  Dont worry next reviews she will be a bias sexist feminist.

jsgreenduck787
jsgreenduck787

@jeremy-  

I played Thief for about 30-45min and became bored with it.  I played this game for about 3-4 straight hours yesterday.  This game is flat out more fun than Thief.

RedWave247
RedWave247

@jeremy-  *Come on, man

Not "Common man," unless you're singing the lyrics to Dusty Rhodes' theme song.

tzolynski
tzolynski

@PyreofKoL  I was able to play some today, its pretty fun to be honest. I had better luck getting into games during the day, but right now im not having much luck.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@dark_rage864   why is there always some idiot on here commenting on how many games get the same score...?  There's only like 3 scores that get issued on a regular basis in video game journalism (7, 8 and 9)... there are bound to be a ton of games with 7's and 8's...

jeremy-
jeremy-

@jsgreenduck787 @jeremy-  My Thief copy that I ordered from amazon for PS4 arrived today. Played it for 2-3 hours. Only payed $60 including shipping because of discounts. I find the game to be amazing.


The graphics are stellar, the gameplay is amazing. Playing it on Master difficulty and killing 100% of units rather than stealthing. This combination of playing the game like this is amazing, I find it to be very challenging and enjoyable.


I'm also surprised at comments about the linearity of the game as the main city has so many sprawling places to loot requiring all manner of upgrades and devices that its still very interesting at my current progress level.


You sir have bad taste >)

tony56723
tony56723

Ehh the frame rate drops during cutscenes but that's the only issue I've had so far, personally playing on the PS4 atm

Pyrosa
Pyrosa

@RedWave247 @MaddenBowler10Yep.  Every map (even the night ones) were always colorful & whimsical.


I think the most important aspect of this title has been overlooked: This is a kid-friendly shooter.  Granted, that doesn't help with the constant idiocy over chat-channels, but it's easy enough to disable/mute all online chat.

Fire_Wa11
Fire_Wa11

I meant to put in the first paragraph that the women characters in Max Payne 3 are pretty weak.  She didn't make an issue of it though.

Fire_Wa11
Fire_Wa11

@Gelugon_baat @dylandude392To be fair, I revisited her review of Max Payne 3 because I am almost to the end and was curious to see what Gamespot thought.  

Maybe in games the feminists are still fighting for derp but in the real world, 60 percent of the women I know are nurses, get a good check and support themselves well, and can now gossip with their girlfriends OR boyfriends because the sexual revolution resulted in the "metrosexual.'


In short, we are all women now.  Congrats, ladies.

tzolynski
tzolynski

@PyreofKoL Im gonna play some garden ops tonight maybe try that gardens and graveyards also.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare has players blast zombies, plants, and new characters with inventive weapons across a mine-blowing PvZ world.
    7.8
    Average User RatingOut of 75 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
    Developed by:
    PopCap
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    All Platforms