February 26, 2014
Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Review for the Xbox

PopCap, makers of the popular Plants Vs. Zombies series, have reanimated the series today on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, with a PC version due to arrive on June 30, 2014.

Plants Vs. Zombies started as a hybrid tower defense game. The premise was simple in that zombies would come at your house in a straight line to eat your brains, and all that stood between you and the undead masses were, of course, plants. Anyone who watches The Walking Dead knows that the best weapon against a zombie is a katana, but in the world of Plants Vs. Zombies, it is a garden full of pea shooters, sunflowers, and cacti.

Unlike previous entries in the series, Garden Warfare eschews the method of sending zombies at your house in a straight line and plays more like a traditional online multiplayer shooter. You can play as different types of plants or zombies and they level up just as you would in any game of Modern Warfare or Battlefield. As your plant levels up, you gain new abilities which increase your power on the battlefield. Each plant and zombie type level up independently, so there is incentive to go back and level up each type of playable character.

The types of games you can play are also similar to most online shooter game types. Gardens & Graveyards has players capturing points on a map to proceed with the other side playing defense. Garden Ops is probably the closest to the original strategy game where you have a small garden which you must defend against waves of zombies that get progressively harder. If you have ever played Trenched on the Xbox 360, then you have a good idea of how the game handles.

The characteristics of the plants and zombies in Garden Warfare are lifted from the PC and mobile game without missing a beat. Chompers are still one-hit kill machines that are defenseless for a few moments while eating a zombie, and the All-Star zombies can ram the chompers with their charge attack. Zombies with screen doors for shields and the Yeti freezing your plants all make the transition from point and click (or drag and drop if you played on a phone) seem natural.

New playable characters and decorations are unlocked in the game by spending the money you earn in-game on sticker packs. Collect enough stickers and you unlock a new character to play as or a new jacket for your cacti to wear. Currently there is no way to spend real money on these sticker packs but the ability to spend real money is coming and time will tell if it serves to alienate the fans of the series the way Plants Vs. Zombies 2 did when it required gamers to spend real money in order to unlock more of the game.

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare also is the first in what is likely to be the standard for multiplayer games like the forthcoming Titanfall, also from EA. Like Titanfall, there is no single player campaign. Apart from a split screen mode for two players on the same couch, all game modes are online with other players on Xbox Live or Origin for the PC version due out later this year.

Fans of Plants Vs. Zombies and online shooter fans will find the game worth the $29.99 price tag ($39.99 for Xbox One) for admission. The humor from the original games are intact which is no small feat unto itself. With free updates planned for Garden Warfare in the coming months, gamers should have no problem reanimating their Xbox 360 or Xbox One to do battle with zombies.....or plants.

Review Garden WarfarePlants Vs. Zombies: Garden WarfarePlatform: Xbox One / Xbox 360 / PCDeveloper: PopCapRelease Date: 2.25.2014ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+Official Site