Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is exactly what it sounds like. As a player, you take control of one of 14 unique plant or zombie characters (with 110 variants overall) and wreak havoc on the opposite faction through a campaign, horde mode or competitive multiplayer, all amidst a fantastical backyard backdrop. If the premise seems a little weird to you, that’s because it is… but it’s executed incredibly well.
The first PvZ:GW was definitely a sleeper hit- but a hit nonetheless, and developer PopCap Games (right?) has pulled out all the stops for the sequel. The game is much bigger and deeper than its predecessor and promises to keep gamers entertained for a long time to come. The biggest change is the introduction of the Backyard Battleground, which serves as a hub area for both factions (separated by a neutral “no-man’s-land”) through which the player can access the game’s different modes, hunt for collectibles, or simply relax after an intense match. The hub isn’t just a boring 3-D menu, though- there’s a lot of detail in the Battleground, which makes it fun to explore at your own pace.
As far as gameplay goes, PVZ:GW is a third person shooter with tight controls and plenty of weapons, abilities and progression incentives to keep the experience from becoming stale. While the campaign leaves a bit to be desired, this isn’t a game you play for the single player anyway. Garden Ops (and the newly introduced Graveyard Ops), task you with defending your base from an ever-growing onslaught of zombies (or plants), and the result is pure mayhem- really, really fun mayhem. If you’re more interested in just straight-up competition, the team deathmatch, king of the hill or kill confirmed-esque battles are always fantastic options, and there’s also an exciting version of Battlefield‘s rush mode. If you are set on going solo, though, every mode can be played with and against AI-controlled characters.
The 14 characters and their variants are just about as insane as the premise allows- you can be a stalk of corn who shoots kernels from his hands like a gatling gun, a flying zombie superhero (complete with a Clark Kent haircut), a rose that’s also a mage, a pirate zombie… the list goes on. What’s great about these characters (aside from the characters themselves) is the fact that each one plays completely differently, and for the most part they are pretty well balanced. Each character has a foil on the opposite team, so there’s also a sort of rock-paper-scissors metagame going on during each match.
As far as progression and unlocks go, though, you’re going to have to put in a lot of hours to unlock new abilities and variants. Players used to Call of Duty, where you’re basically getting something after every game, will have to adjust to this slower-paced style, but two pieces of good news are that:
A- lower level characters aren’t ridiculously underpowered when compared with their high level counterparts, and:
B- players of the original game will be able to import all their unlocks into PvZ:GW2.
Sticker packs, which are randomized drops purchased with in-game currency (or real world dollars), also make a comeback, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your opinion of RNG drops in a shooter.
All in all, this is a ridiculous game that you’ll have a ridiculous amount of fun with. It’s a great distraction from the current world of gritty, serious shooters and can be enjoyed by players of any age or skill level. While the campaign isn’t that great and the progression is a lot slower than most multiplayer aficionados are used to, the rest of the game totally makes up for it. Solo, split-screen or online, you’re gonna have fun with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2.