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PopCap Games and EA have actually managed to pump out a really good third person shooter game that offers a plethora of crazy, zany fun. Their second iteration of the Plants vs. Zombies multiplayer “spinoff” game (if I can even really call it that) is packed with a ton of action and odd humor.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a third person shooter in which you get to choose between the two sides, plants and zombies, in both a single player campaign and a multiplayer shooting arena. Both the plant side and the zombie side offer a wide variety of different “classes” to choose from. As a member of the plants, you can choose between different fighting flora such as the peashooters, the healing sunflowers, and the magical roses. Zombies also get fun classes like pirates, scientists, or supervillains. Each class comes with its own standard bullet type as well as three unique abilities.
The single player content is very well done. Each side has a set of quests that take you on various different game types such as “king of the hill” or “capture the flag” missions. The quest lines also encourage you to try out the different classes without forcing said classes on you. For example, there is a set of quests on the zombie side focusing around the imp class. You do not need to play as an imp class to complete these missions, but the game shows you that they are an option. The single player content also includes an over world which you can explore at your own pace. It allows you to hop onto a new class and shoot random enemies until you have a good feel for what that class can do.
The multiplayer is where the game really takes off. Using your class and loadout of choice, you will enter a hectic and colorfully explosive “gunfight” as either a zombie or a plant. While there have been a few games with too few players, the multiplayer matches are usually very fast-paced, and even the lower populated games have moments of intense action.
It takes a little practice getting used to the shooting. It is a third person shooter rather than a first person, and your character takes up a sizable portion of the left side of the screen. I found that annoying at first in both navigating the over world and in figuring out the trajectory of my bullets.
PvZ: Garden Warfare 2 is fairly graphically impressive while still maintaining a heavily cartoonish aesthetic. The style of the graphics are reminiscent of old Nickelodeon cartoon-based games that came out for the original PlayStation or the Nintendo 64. The execution of that cartoon style, however, is decidedly current-gen. Overall, the graphics work beautifully to bring the players into the crazy world that its inhabitants occupy.
While the storytelling in Garden Warfare 2 does take a back seat in favor of gameplay, it is still there, and it complements the game’s overall crazy composition just as well as everything else. You’ll find yourself escorting giant tree stumps or seeking the mystical knowledge of zombie Kung-Fu masters for reasons that are equal parts insane and logical.
One issue I had in this game however, is that there will sometimes be large dialogue boxes that tell you what to do in whichever mission you are on, and they will stay there until you complete whatever it tells you to do. It is very intrusive and sometimes makes it hard to see the actual quest marker that shows you where to go. This is as much a gameplay problem as it is a storytelling issue, especially since it happens most when your faction’s ‘”big boss” is the one talking to you.
At first, the music seemed almost nonexistent and unmemorable, but after taking a moment to slow down and listen to it, I was greeted with a silly mixture of sleuth spy and elevator music. It is still very easy to ignore the music, especially while busy dodging a slew of laser fire and pea-bullet splash, but it is there and it is quite enjoyable. Most of all, it further emphasized the crazy nature of the game as a whole.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is currently available on Origin for $59.99, and I’d have to say that it is proving itself to be worth its asking price. This game, almost surprisingly, comes as a complete package at its $60 price tag, with no intrusive in-game shop or at-launch DLC or any of the junk we have almost come to regretfully expect in our full-priced games. The single player campaigns alone are quite good, and the multiplayer experience is addictingly fun. This is a game that I will likely find myself spending a hundred or so hours on, and I am as surprised to discover that as anyone reading this might be.
Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 comes as a complete surprise. The gameplay is complete and addicting. The graphics are just as pretty as they are silly. The music, while easily ignored, is decent. This game has so far proven to be a great turn for both EA and the casual IP we’ve come to know from Plants vs. Zombies.