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Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 Review

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare was a bit of a surprise success first time around, bringing the charming mobile puzzle franchise created by Popcap Games and turning it into a rather fun and quite successful multiplayer shooter. Looking back, it was a great idea from both the developer and publisher EA, as by introducing players as young as seven to an easy to get to grips with and fun online multiplayer game, suddenly they were breeding a future generation of online shooter fans.

As with most games which find a little success first time around, Popcap and EA couldn’t stay still for the sequel, so it’s fair to say that they decided to go bigger and better this time around and while on occasion, this can be to the detriment of the simple nature of the first title, overall Plant’s vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is still a much improved game for these changes.

Even though we were unconvinced we’d like Plant’s vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 when we first started playing, after going at it for three hours straight, we began to realise that we were actually enjoying all the chaotic action that was taking place before our eyes. At first it’s all just a little bit confusing, thanks to the large hub known as the Backyard Battleground, which hosts both the home of the Plants and the Zombies. In this hub you are free to roam, finding secrets and battling against the Plants or Zombies for practice or if you like, completing many of the challenges or tasks which are assigned to you after a little investigation of the area. The Backyard Battleground is the hub for everything, whether you want to play Garden Ops, Multiplayer, buy stickers with the points you have earned or customise your characters. 

The multiplayer is still one of the main draws, now offering a 12 vs.12 online experience with 12 new maps. Standard gameplay modes includes the likes of Vanquish (Team Deathmatch) and Vanquish Confirmed (Kill Confirmed), while you also have other takes on standard multiplayer modes such as Gnome Bomb, where both teams find explosive gnomes and take them to the enemy base, protecting them until the blow; Suburbination, where you must take control of three points on the map and finally, Welcome Map, which is a simple mode to help ease you into the multiplayer side of things.

Perhaps the biggest star of multiplayer is Turf Takeover, which encompasses Gardens & Graveyards and Herbal Assault from the first game in the series. If you’ve not heard of these modes it basically boils down to one side being on the offensive while the other defends. Roles are also reversed at points too. The objective in Turf War is for the offensive team to attack five bases and complete a final objective at the sixth base to win. The defensive team obviously has to protect each area if it can.

During multiplayer, no matter which character you choose, each has three abilities, all of which are subject to a cooldown once used. Knowing when to use these abilities is part of mastering the game, especially in modes such as Turf Takeover, which is a much more tactical mode than most. As far as balance goes, there is one character that seems to stand above all others - Rose. Unfortunately she moves faster and seems a lot more powerful than the characters, especially her ice version which freezes enemies and makes them incapable of defending themselves. This is something Popcap will no doubt fix quickly, just like DICE speedily solved the balance issues in Star Wars Battlefront. Other than this issue though, all the other characters seem to be able to hold their own and while some may feel easier to use than others, this will no doubt come down more to player preference rather than, Rose apart, one character being better than the other.

If we have any issue at all with Garden Warfare 2 then it would probably come down to the very confusing Time Park Map. We found that there is just too much going on in the background here, which can be quite distracting. In fact there’s even time ports, which seems to spawn you in random areas and add even more confusion to matters. Still, this map apart, it’s not too much of an issue and we’re sure Time Park is likely a map we’ll get used to the more we play.

One of our favourite modes within the previous game was Garden Ops, and that’s pretty much true here too. Garden Ops is essentially the horde mode, in which you defend your garden from wave upon wave of zombies, with large boss enemies also making an appearance in between waves. Throughout you’ll have options to add the tower defence style weapons you’ve found in sticker packs to the plant pots spread around the level, giving you an extra layer of defence against the oncoming waves, which adds another layer of customisation and a different way to play each time. Garden Ops is such a fun mode and one you’ll no doubt spend a lot of time playing, especially with a friend in split-screen (an option which is available for every mode).

There’s no doubt that most of the fun in Garden Warfare 2 comes from experimenting with the different characters that you have to play around with and there are a lot. Initially there are six character classes on each side, with new some familiar faces such as the zombie scientist and the Zombie All Star. There are new characters too, such as Citron, a large plant who is based on the orange. Think of Citron like a futuristic riot policeman, as he sports both a riot shield and a rather impressive laser cannon amongst his special move arsenal, as well as the ability to go the full orange and roll around the battlefield. There are plenty more characters too, well over 30 in fact if you manage to unlock (or purchase) the correct stickers.

Speaking of stickers, this is a part of the game which really opens things up in terms of customisation. Playing either in multiplayer or just messing around in the Backyard Battleground, you can earn enough coins to buy sticker packs, which in turn allows you to unlock new weapon skins, characters, costumes, abilities and more. There’s never a shortage of things to unlock, so you’ve always got something to aim for, which is a great incentive to keep playing.

Many online games suffer from balance problems and as mentioned, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is not quite a stranger to this either, however once the community grows and the developer starts to understand the issues, it won’t be long before these are fixed and any issues are patched out. Once this happens it’d be hard not to recommend Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, because it’s such a fun game which is packed with enough incentives to keep everyone playing for a long time to come.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously and perhaps that’s the biggest appeal of all. Anyone playing won’t be able to help having fun and at the end of the day, that’s all you should really want to out a game.

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Review by: 

Joe Anderson (Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta)
Dan Pearson 

(Version Tested: PS4)


+ Bigger and Better
+ Splitscreen Co-op is fantastic fun


- Action can feel a little too chaotic sometimes

Edited On 29 Feb, 2016

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