Despite all expectations and evidence to the contrary, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is incredibly fun. And while that may sound like cheeky prodding at a seven-year old franchise that manages to range the gambit from competitive shooters to tower defense to collectible card games, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is an admittedly hard sell.
Specifically, Garden Warfare 2 is a micro-transaction packed, unbalanced competitive multiplayer third-person shooter brought to you by Electronic Arts — putting it in direct competition with mega-franchises such as The Division.
And while all of those components taken by themselves are universally antagonistic to the current mind-share of gaming opinions, Garden Warfare 2 manages to pull ahead to be intensely enjoyable and highly addictive.
For those out of the loop, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 (developed by PopCap Games) is the latest chapter in the unending turf war between plants and zombies.
Unlike the original tower-defense games that launched the series into the limelight, Garden Warfare allows players to align themselves with the undead or vegetation, based on your preference — not just at the beginning of the game, but any point thereafter.
The most appealing new feature added from the original Garden Warfare is the new hub world: Backyard Battleground. As the term “hub world” would imply, players (regardless of whether you are on the Plants or Zombies side) are able to freely roam, access all of the different game modes, check leaderboards, take on story missions, grab daily objectives and customize your home base.
More interesting, between the two warring home bases is a hotly divided backyard property roaming with plenty of free-roaming friends and foes. At any point, players can run out into the Backyard Battleground to rack up experience in a laid-back, kill-everything-in-sight fashion with no repercussions for experimentation or death.
Truth be told, it was often difficult to rip myself out of the Backyard to do more formally structured missions and objectives.
However, when you are able to try out the different modes, there are a wealth of variations at your disposal. Garden Ops (alongside the zombie iteration, Graveyard Ops) is a cooperative mode where players take on incrementally-harder waves of enemies.
If you are into competitive multiplayer, Garden Warfare boasts 24-player multiplayer, with 12 varying maps and eight varying modes — normally ripping on different modes made popular by Call of Duty or Battlefield.
Lastly, and personally my favorite, the Flag of Power is a King of the Hill style mode where you have to defend the middle ground against waves of enemies without going outside territory for too long. Of course, the more rounds you surpass, the higher the rewards and higher the stakes.
Another thing to be commended on, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is all about customization. All-in-all there are 14 different classes, 100 different heroes, and not enough time in the world for you to get sufficiently experienced with even a fraction of them.
While I played the majority of the game as a Sunflower, I often enjoyed dabbling as Pops Corn or Rose. And though other games and developers would spend hundreds of hours painstakingly balancing all classes and character types, Garden Warfare 2 basks in the cacophony.
One of the largest concerns I can lobby against the title I often wished there was slightly more tutorializing with the different classes. While it was no herculean effort to learn the basic mechanics of each different classes, the knowledge that I was given no instruction one way or the other often prevented me from wanting to switch up my normal play style or go outside my comfort zones.
More importantly, this game will really appeal to a specific audience — people who like dumb fun. There are plenty of people out there who only find enjoyment in games if presented with a compelling story, masterful mechanic balance, and realistic graphics.
However, if you can stomach a few bad puns and don’t mind playing something casual in spirit, you will find yourself with a real gem on your hands.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 isn’t a perfect game, by any means. However, unlike other titles, Garden Warfare 2 revels in its imperfections, making all of its minor flaws, imbalances, and awful puns a joy for the player. But before you pick up the title, make sure you are lighthearted enough to enjoy it.