Well I’ve been on a really long vacation but I’m back and good to go! With that, here’s a review of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Just in case you haven’t heard about this one, the synopsis states:
Garden Warfare takes gamers deeper into the Plants vs. Zombies universe than ever before by combining tower-defense gameplay with third-person action. For the first time in the series, you’ll be able to play as a plant and really give those dirty brain-eaters what they deserve, or embody a zombie and fight your eternal vegetable rivals. Garden Warfare is a deep game. It features class-based combat, so each plant or zombie has his/her/its own unique power, 4-player co-op, and 24-player online battles – basically an entire PvZ universe is yours to enjoy. Combine all that with the crazy humor and colorful action of the previous PvZ games, and you end up with a killer title. The Xbox One version of Garden Warfare features a Boss Mode where players can use SmartGlass or Kinect to offer classic top-down support.
This game is odd to be honest. Most people that have played PvZ already know its more of a strategy/puzzle game and quite pleasurable at that. While the strategy element kind of exists with this one, there’s really not much to it. In simpler words, it’s not for hardcore shooters nor for the casual gamers, it’s really for a few certain people. What else is odd is that’s its an online multiplayer game only and does require a gold Xbox Live subscription in order to play it. You can play one of the modes solo but that is it. Basically, there is only one way to play this game. The developers attempted to mix it up a tad, but didn’t do that great of a job. If you love games that are very repetitive, then you will love this game. For everyone else, it falls short.
The menu is quite cumbersome for such a small game, so to speak. The first option is Garden Ops, followed by Multiplayer, Split Screen, Characters, Sticker Shop, Stickerbook, Options, Help which just snaps the manual, Redeem Code and Credits. As always, I’ll break down everything for you.
This is probably the first mode that everyone plays, thinking there is some kind of solo campaign mode or something, but there’s not. This is just a semi-local version of the entire game. The game is setup with a handful of maps and puts you in a third person view. In Garden Ops, your objective is survive 10 waves of a zombie onslaught. You begin by either choosing a custom search (to actually play online) or create a game. The only difference between the 2 is that custom search looks online, whereas creating a match allows you to make your session invite only. Once you choose one, you can pick any of the 5 maps to play. There are also 4 difficulty levels which range from Easy, Normal, Hard and CRAAAAAZY! as the other team is AI based.
Once you pick what you want, you then have to choose a character. You can only play as the Plants in this mode. There are 4 “classes” of “soldiers” to choose from. All of the characters are pretty well rounded and from what I experienced, you basically need at least 3 of the classes on your team in order to survive. Once you choose your character, you will have to plant and defend your garden. As I mentioned, there are 10 waves of zombies, so you do the same thing over and over. The positive thing about the characters is that as you play, you earn experience and this will rank them up so there is a slight RPG element to the game. Leveling up also unlocks extra bonuses and they are unique to each character.
There’s also pots on the ground all around your garden for extra defense. You can plant certain plants based on the stickers that you obtain which I’ll get into below. The match is set on a timer so you only have a certain amount of time to get your defense ready. After the zombies start coming, then it’s just destroy all the zombies and proceed to the next wave. On wave 5, the zombies will spin a reel that determines what kind of bosses you have to fight. This happens again with Wave 10. Unfortunately, that is really all there is to this game. I did create a video of the Garden Ops mode but I thought I had it on invite only and ended up having some other players join. As you can see, with their assistance we were able to succeed. Take a look below:
Garden Ops offers one other mode, called Boss Mode. This is the Kinect and SmartGlass portion of the game. It throws you into an overhead view of the map and you can see Crazy Dave’s RV flying around. Once you are in Boss Mode, familiar Sun’s will drop down and you have to collect them. If using Kinect, you just hover your hand over them. On SmartGlass, you just touch them. Once you collect enough suns, you can then pick from 4 different types of actions. The first is Spotting, which drops a radar down although I was unable to really figure out its purpose. The second is Healing which drops a sunflower plant and heals nearby allies. The third is an airstrike and the fourth is a resurrect option to revive a fallen comrade. With Kinect, you simply use an close/open hand gesture which actually works very well compared to some Kinect 1 games. On the SmartGlass version, you simply drag and drop where you want them. The thing that doesn’t make sense is the mode is fine, but if you use Kinect, it takes up a spot if you are playing online, meaning you can only have 3 other team members on the battlefield, so to speak. Now if you use SmartGlass, you can put yourself on the battlefield and still have boss mode on your SmartGlass device, essentially giving you a 5 member team advantage. There’s really not much to it though, as you can see in the video below:
The multiplayer mode is essentially the same concept, except it allows way more than 4 players online, essentially allowing 12 vs. 12 teams so things can be a tad chaotic. There are actually only 3 different modes in multiplayer instead of the 6 options in the menu. The first mode is Welcome Mat, which doesn’t allow customized or unlocked characters, however the more damage you do, the more health you obtain with your next spawn, basically it’s free for all for those of us familiar with online shooters. The next mode is Team Vanquish, which has 2 variants. One variant allows customized, unlocked and upgraded characters, the other does not. The goal of Team Vanquish is the first team that “vanquishes” 50 opponents wins, in other words, this is team deathmatch with a score of 50. The last mode is Gardens And Graveyards and also has the 2 different variants. This mode has you playing as either the Plants or Zombies and the goal is to capture the garden or defend the garden based on which team you select, which again is familiar in other online shooters.
I don’t mind online games, but this one is just so repetitive it became really stale to me quickly. Add in the cutesy graphics that definitely attract children, along with those children who are allowed to play this game online since this doesn’t have a mature rating, and you can get yourself into a mess. Now mind you, I thought during the day when most kids are in school would be a great time to record a video. I was absolutely wrong. As you can hear in the video, the annoying children are everywhere. I had to mute the one as he/she was just too obnoxious. Anyway, here’s a video of the Gardens and Graveyard mode:
Unfortunately I do not have an Xbox 360 anymore, so I can’t compare that version to this one, but from my understanding, this local split screen co-op mode is only available on the Xbox One version. I also didn’t have a second controller available so I’m not sure if this mode follows the Garden Ops or Multiplayer mode. But from what I hear, the local co-op is quite good as there aren’t many on the Xbox One at the moment.
This area allows you to get into the details about the characters. On the Plants side, you have a Peashooter which is basically your assault style. He has a normal shot that splatters but with upgrades, can get red hots which act as a grenade, turn into a gatling gun and make haste with super speed. The next character is the Chomper. He’s more of your stealth unit as he can burrow underground and chomp up zombies in one gulp and has a couple of other caveats to assist as well. The third character is Sunflower, which is your support/medic unit. Sunflower can heal people primarily. As you rank up, you gain some offensive assists, but he/she whatever it is, is still primarily a support unit. Lastly, you have Cactus which is your engineer/defensive unit. His needles pack a punch but he’s slow to reload and he can lay potato mines or put up walls, I don’t recall to be honest.
On the Zombies side, you have your foot soldier, which is again, a normal assault class. Then there’s an engineer, which is more of the defensive unit. A scientist which is more support as he can heal other zombies, and then you’re all-star, which is like a heavy gunner loaded with a football cannon. In the video above, I did go through each class so you can get a grasp of what they are like.
The sticker shop is where you go to spend all of your hard earned coins that you win from the matches. Basically to unlock everything else that’s not related to power-ups for your characters, you need these stickers. You can unlock characters, custom items for your current characters and more inventory of reinforcements. The first pack is called the Reinforcements pack which costs 1000 coins. This pack restocks your reinforcements. It does seem to be completely random though so you may not always get what you want.
The next pack is the Super Duper Pack that costs 5000 coins. It contains a couple of goodies not found in the reinforcements pack. The following pack is the Craaazy Pack, which packs in some more goodies for 10,000 coins. The next pack is the Supremium pack which costs 20,000 coins. After that we have the Incredi-Plant and Vengeful Zomboss for 20,000 coins as well. The prime pack is called the Spectacular Character Pack for a whopping 40,000 coins which contains very rare stickers.
After you purchase a pack, you can go to the Sticker Book section which covers absolutely everything that’s unlockable.
The options are pretty self explanatory, which consists of controls, audio and share usage data with EA.
How Could Kinect Make It Better
We’re going to try a new section in the reviews here with an opinion of how Kinect could have made the game better. With this particular title, Kinect was obviously underutilized despite how improved Kinect 2 is. In my opinion, I felt if a solo Kinect mode using gestures and foot controls from previous Kinect 1 games were added, it would have made for a completely different experience. Being that there really is not a lot of content with this title, a mini-games section could have been added as well, and with Plants vs. Zombies, the sky would be limit. You do get all future DLC for this game if purchased at no additional cost, yet, but I can’t imagine it will be overwhelming and more than likely will just be little things here and there such as maps, more customization items, etc.
Overall, its a mediocre game, way too repetitive and the price does not help at all. Now to everyone else out there, you are on a scale. You will either absolutely love this game and think its a 10 or completely hate it with a passion and think its a 1. Since I’m not biased with these games, I gave it a 5 as I don’t love nor hate it. This game is very unique and it will not appeal to everyone, and others will think its pure joy. As for kids, I think its a winner for all even though its not intentional, it does cater to them more. If you’re looking for something new and have to try it, give it a whirl. As for everyone else, you could probably just wait on it to arrive in the bargain bin.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
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