Review: Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare (PS4)

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Title: Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (14 GB)
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: PopCap Games
Original MSRP: $39.99 (Disc) / $29.99 (PSN)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Plants vs Zombies is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation 4 disc version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Editor’s Note:
The original review that was posted used a listing of game modes pulled directly from Wikipedia without being attributed to the site. That information has since been removed. If you’re interested in all the modes the game has to offer, please check it out here: Wikipedia list of Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare game modes

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is a unique spin on a popular franchise. Tower defense has been the main theme for Plants vs Zombies over the last couple of years. This game changes all of that while still keeping some of the tower defense aspects intact. Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare evolves into a beautiful third person multiplayer-only shooter. The tower defense aspects are still in the game in the form of planting defense weapons throughout the levels in potted plants or, when playing as Zombies, being able to raise more zombies out of the grave sites throughout the level. Take a look at the gameplay video that was captured by Glenn while playing with me and the other writers.

Gameplay:
I have noticed a trend with EA games over the past few years that they try to nickel and dime you with micro transactions. I feel like this is not the case in this game. There are ways for you to purchase coins that you use to buy stickers for your characters, but it is not needed. There is no competitive advantage to opening the sticker packs. There is no pay to win weapon or upgrade and most of the sticker packs are just costume upgrades.

At the end of each match there is a stats screen that shows how you’ve done. You earn coins for completing waves or getting multiple vanquishes (they don’t use the words kill or death anywhere in this game). Those coins are then used to buy sticker packs inside of which are hundreds of different stickers. These include faster reloads, character accessories, additional items to plant or different zombie resurrections. The sticker system is random with some of the more basic packs costing 1,000 coins and the more rare packages costing up to 50,000 coins. I never felt I was behind other users, it was more of an envious feeling. When I would get vanquished by a player, I was able to see how they set up their character. I would be like “Wow that’s really cool,” “I want that set up,” and “Where did they get that sticker from?”

I found this game to have a different feel to it than other competitive multiplayer games. There is no kill-death ratio and at the end of matches you only see how many people you vanquished and how many coins you earned. If you die it’s not a big deal, just respawn or hope to get revived and jump back into the action.

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There is so much to do in this game and so many classes to play as. When playing as the Plants you have the choice of playing as a Peashooter, who shoots peas and can move the fastest of the Plant classes. There is also the Sunflower, who is the healer of the group, the Chomper who is more of you stealth class and doesn’t have very good distance attack but has an amazing chomp where he can eat the Zombies. And finally you have the Cactus which has the best distance weapons.

When playing as the Zombies you can play as a Foot Solider, who is similar to a Solider class in other shooters, the Engineer Zombie who is like the sniper of the group, followed by the Scientist who is the healer and has a teleporting mode that works really well in competitive modes, and the All-Star Zombie who operates similar to a tank.

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Each character has different challenges to complete. While completing these challenges you level up your character along with leveling up your profile. Each level up could be a new ability or a special card pack. I feel the challenge system is the strength of this game. It keeps you playing the game and wanting to play as different classes. The special abilities are mapped to the Triangle, L1, and R1 buttons. After using each ability it then will have to recharge. The Square button reloads your primary weapon while Cross jumps. L2 lines up your sights better and R2 shoots. All of these controls can be mapped to your liking.

Visuals:
This game looks amazing. The environments are very bright and colorful while very few details are left untouched. Each character has amazing unique features and messing around with all the different looks and add-ons that are available is like an entire game in itself.

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Audio:
Whether it’s the sounds of the Zombies walking around the maps or of the Law Peashooter reloading his six-shooter with the spinning sound of a revolver, there is no sound left untapped. Everything is on point down to the smallest detail. One of my favorite sounds in the game is while playing Garden Ops mode after you plant your garden. Before the first wave starts there is a verbal warning that “The Zombies are coming” in a creepy goosebumps style voice. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

Online/Multiplayer:
Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is primarily an online only affair. It does support a local split-screen mode which works great. It’s just your traditional horizontal line across the middle of the screen. My son and daughter have a great time playing this game with me even though my daughter doesn’t like playing console games often.

As you read above there is cooperative mode along with competitive multiplayer. This is where I ran into what I feel is this game’s biggest issue. When trying to play the competitive modes, the invite system is a total mess. You can’t invite a friend until you have already joined a game and then you have to hope the game isn’t full by the time you send out your invite. There is no way to party up and join a server. It is even difficult to get a group of players on the same map let alone on the same team.

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The other problem is when the invite system randomly decides not to work. When you go to invite friends it takes you to your PSN Friends list. You select the players you want to add and then the invite gets sent out… kinda. 90% of the time that I or someone I was online with tried to invite each other into a game it froze at 80% complete. After waiting about three to five minutes you maybe are able to cancel the invite or you have to log out the game and restart.

I just don’t understand why there isn’t a Lobby or Squad/Party system. For a game that can only be played online and wants you to play as a team this is a big deal breaker for me.

Conclusion:
Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is a very beautiful looking and extremely fun game. The replayability is very high with plenty to do and earn while always looking for the next cool thing in the sticker packs. All the different modes give the game great diversity. I found myself playing and not getting annoyed or frustrated like I sometimes do when I play competitive multiplayer games. I really enjoy co-op games where you work as a team to reach the same goal.

The problems getting into the competitive modes with friends really hurt this game in my opinion. Also it doesn’t look like there is a fix in the future for this game since it has been on other platforms for over six months already without changing it. The fact that there are no micro transitions in this game is great and it’s my understanding that any DLC they bring out will be free.

I feel the game is being heavily marketed to kids with all the bright colors and not having to pay to win, also by only showing the positive things you do in your score. Parents don’t need to worry as you can pick this game up and your kids will have a blast and not ask you for money for a random sticker pack.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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  • Surprised I never commented on this. One of my favorite game of this generation. Nice review Dave!