It’s not often you get to label a video game shooter as colorful, charming or hilarious. Shooters themselves are often dark, gritty, testosterone-filled characters.
But PopCap Game’s “Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare” shatters the norm in an experience that can best be described as a game with heart and soul.
For those unfamiliar with the “Plants vs. Zombies” brand, the game’s roots — pun intended — go back to 2009 when it was a mobile, tower-defense game where players repel waves of zombies from their beloved garden of plants.
The idea of turning that design into a full-fledged, third-person shooter seems not only ambitious, but downright impossible. But, as it turns out, that’s not the case.
The vibe in “Garden Warfare” is absolutely delightful. PopCap cut no corners in developing a deep third-person shooter. It never takes itself too seriously, but always exceeds at implementing and bettering the best features of other shooters on the market.
There are many positive features, but the most notable are the options in customization and perk unlocking. The game rewards are not only for skill, but for playing more matches.
The game’s success here is two-fold. First, “Garden Warfare” actually gets more hysterical as you go. Players begin unlocking sillier cosmetic features for their characters, while seeing how other players design theirs. Second, as players continue through the game, they begin unlocking new tools for combat that can be used in a variety of different ways, keeping battles fresh every match.
PopCap should also be complimented for designing maps, game types and characters that feel different from one another and reflect the artsy, cartoonish design that has always been distinctive of the brand.
Some character classes can seem more powerful than others, which can sometimes be disappointing in the heat of battle. However, it is really about honing in on your own play style. It is here that some reviewers said they had a problem with the game.
Though “Garden Warfare” only comes packaged with a handful of maps and modes, each are so eloquently crafted that players feel a new sense of discovery with each round of playing.
The argument really is one of value over substance. Not value in dollar signs, but in providing excellent content that keeps people coming back for more.
The value will have you coming back. “Garden Warfare” offers two traditional game types: “Team Vanquish,” also known as team death-match, and “Gardens and Graveyards,” a take on rush mode in the “Battlefield” series. Again, both of these modes borrow well from other titles, but still have an identity rooted in the “Plants vs. Zombies” world.
The final game type is a horde-like mode called “Garden Ops.” Here, you and three other friends can fend off waves of zombies. Teamwork in “Garden Ops” is key. The gameplay is incredibly difficult and the game will throw “boss” zombies at you periodically to test your mite.
In the end, “Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare” would have made PopCap and EA money no matter what. It could have been a crummy, multiplayer-only experience and people would have bought it for the name alone.
But thankfully, it is a game that understands itself. It has depth, but it never tries to be more than it is. While it may not initially seem like your type of game, “Garden Warfare” is worth every penny of its $40 price tag.
Tate Steinlage is a sophomore in mass communications. Please send all comments to email@example.com.