The original Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare was announced to much criticism; turning a cartoony tower defense game into a shooter is something that seemed like a huge joke. But to the surprise of almost everyone, the game was a ton of fun and a big hit; it was easily one of the most popular games in the first year of the Xbox One’s life.
Two years later and a sequel is finally coming out. Does the sequel live up to its predecessor? Yes it does and it may even surpass the original game. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is an addictive, humorous multiplayer game with a ton of content to spend hours upon hours playing.
One of the major complaints about the original Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare was the lack of any single player content; it was an online only game and that turned a few people off. The folks over at PopCap definitely heard those complaints as there is a good amount of content to explore by yourself. In fact, the single player portion of the game even replaces the main menu as the game loads up into a hub world; the hub world is known as the ‘Backyard Battleground’ and in it you will find a small open world to explore, missions to go on, access to the multiplayer game modes and even your stats.
While the ‘Backyard Battleground’ isn’t a huge map, there is a decent amount to do in it; plants and zombies are constantly at war, there are tons of collectibles to find and hidden areas to explore. It’s a surprisingly fun world to explore, especially as you go into enemy territory and get surrounded by hostile plants/zombies; thought I feel a harsher respawn system would make the open world feel a bit more challenging to explore.
There are a decent amount of missions to play in addition to the hub world; you get these missions in the Plant and Zombies bases from various kooky characters. While the missions are fun to play, they are sadly not that unique; all of the missions either take place in the hub world or on the various multiplayer maps. The missions that take place in the hub world are a bit more varied than the ones on the multiplayer maps. Hub world missions will have you protecting allies, infiltrating enemy bases and engaging in large scale battles in the middle of the map; missions on the multiplayer maps are all just shorter versions of the Ops multiplayer game modes. The missions are a fun distraction but you won’t really remember them in the future. Not including a full-fledged campaign is a missed opportunity as the series’s unique sense of humor could’ve lead to a very memorable experience.
The newly added single player content is a nice addition to the game. But it’s more of an added incentive for people who want the game for the multiplayer, it won’t win over anyone who’s a single player only gamer.
The multiplayer is the meat (or braaaaiiiinzzz) of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. With a ton of new maps and characters it’s just as fun and addictive as the original game, if not more.
The game adds six new characters (three on each side) in addition to the original game’s returning. These six new characters are all unique in their own ways and all are fun to play as; I find myself really liking how Super Brainz and Kernel Corn play, launching a popcorn airstrike on a horde of zombies is both hilarious and awesome. Despite having a ton of new, flashy moves the new characters aren’t more overpowered than the original cast, the balancing between the characters is incredibly well done. While there may be a ton of people using the new guys online right now, players using the old characters do just as well and aren’t lagging behind.
The original game’s addicting way to unlock characters/items is back; players get coins for most everything they do and they use these coins to purchase card packs that unlock completely random items/characters. Unique character variations are found within the card packs that drastically changes how you play a certain class; it’s almost like getting an entirely new character. I find myself addicted to trying to get all of the unique classes and see which one I’m best at.
The maps in the game are well designed and a blast to play on. They are also much more unique than they were in the first game; while the first game’s maps were mostly set in suburban areas, Garden Warfare 2‘s maps are a bit more globetrotting. There are maps set in Egypt, China and even the Moon. The variety of settings for the maps definitely help the maps stand out more and make the game more interesting overall.
One of my biggest complaints of the original Garden Warfare is that you could only play as the zombies in the competitive multiplayer; I always felt more comfortable using the Plants since I could practice with them in Garden Ops, opposed to the Zombies who I didn’t play with as much. Luckily, PopCap also listened to that complaint as you can now play a version of Garden Ops where you fight as the Zombies. The new generic Plant enemies are funny to see in action, while the new Plant bosses are super fun to fight; I particularly like fighting the giant tree boss, he always offers a good challenge.
While I am pleased that there is now a Zombie version of Garden Ops, I wish there was an unlimited wave version similar to Call of Duty‘s zombie mode. I love the current version of Garden Ops, but an unlimited wave version that gets harder as the match go on would be a dream come true. Maybe next time, PopCap?
Graphics and Sound
Plants vs Zombie: Garden Warfare 2’s graphics won’t wow you, but they don’t need to. The game’s cartoony graphics are nice and charming; the plants and their area is full of green colors and sunshine, while the zombies and their area is cloudy and full of purple colors. The only graphical issue I have with the game is the way Crazy Dave/Dr. Zomboss look when they appear on-screen and give you orders; they look incredibly outdated, as if they came from an early Xbox 360 game. It definitely takes you out of the game whenever they pop up.
Just as the game looks like a cartoon, it also sounds like one. The characters squeal and grunt in goofy voices and the weapons all sounds like toys; while these would be negatives for most games, the sounds fit perfectly in the world of Plants vs Zombies. I always get a kick of the noises the Peashooter makes as he activates his fast mode and runs across the map.
The music was one of my favorite parts of the original Garden Warfare and it’s just as good here. The game is full of catchy remixes of past Plants vs Zombies games (including my personal favorite, Loonboon), as well as a good amount of new music when playing as the Zombies. The music definitely is abnormal as the rest of the game as it spans a range of genre, I love it when surfer-esque music plays… something about surfer music just screams zombies for some reason.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is both a great game and a great sequel. It takes everything that was fun about the first game and ramps it, while adding a good amount of features that people felt were missing in the original. That is something more sequels need to do and I commend PopCap for listening to their fans.
Garden Warfare 2 is the go-to game for people looking for a multiplayer game in the first half of 2016. It will keep people busy until the fall’s big shooters come out and with inevitable free DLC, it may even keep people while the other big shooters come out. Now excuse me, I need to go play a couple matches so I can get some more card packs.