Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 Review

By Megan Walton, 9 months ago
With the success of the original Plants vs. Zombies game on the Xbox 360 and the release of Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare on 360 and One, it was surely only a matter of time before it was time to take control of our beloved plants and zombies once more. This month we have been introduced to Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, a game that has added new content in the form of multiplayer modes, characters, quests, missions and a whole lot more. The question is that after the success of the first game, would PopCap Games manage to make this one even better?

It's time for the plants to meet the zombies, againIt's time for the plants to meet the zombies, again

Right from the off, Garden Warfare 2 offers you a lot more than the first one ever did. Even as the game is being installed, you are given the chance to roam about as a lone sunflower and do a bit of exploring. It is little additions like this that make the game that bit more special than the first one, and this continues through in all aspects. Once your game is ready to play properly, you are dropped right into the Backyard Battleground, a place where the plants and zombies both have come to a deadlock in their fighting. This stalemate has lead to a side of the city for the plants and a side for the zombies. The middle ground into which you venture will escalate into a huge fight that includes Gigantaurs, Laser Beans, Giant Sunflowers and an endless amount of enemies. The fact that you can go into this neutral ground, and even raise a flag to try and claim it as yours, means that there is always fighting and potential XP to gain for you by doing this.

No matter what side you pick, each Backyard has a similar selection of interactable items in your special gated-off area. As well as portals to access the various multiplayer mods and the garden/graveyard ops, there's also a booth to change your character, a stats room, a sticker shop, a place to access split screen gaming and a big board where you can pick up quests. This hub is a much more interesting way to navigate around the various modes and stats than the usual basic menu that we would see in games, and this interactive nature means that you are never just sat on a menu wondering what to do. Even if you personally don't fancy getting involved in anything, you can watch fights between NPCs happen around you as well, so there is always something going on whether you are a part of it or not. Unfortunately, you can't pause due to the game being online constantly, so make sure you are in a safe place before you wander off and do something else or you might find your character dead and buried.

The Backyard Battleground also offers you the opportunity to do a bit of aimless wandering around, which can lead to finding new areas, quests and collectible items. In between talking to a magic fish, shooting gnome targets in a shooting range or answering mysterious phone calls, you never know what you might be doing next in this game, and that surprise is all part of the charm of this sequel. There's so much more to do and discover this time around, especially in terms of the single player aspects of the game. There are collectibles, in the form of snowglobes and gnomes mostly, and you'll be able to spend time searching for these in the backyard as well as finding them hidden about the levels. These add XP when you find them but don't serve too much of a purpose other than that if you want to ignore them, although if you find all of the gnomes then you might want to make your way to a secret underground gnome room that may hold one or two rewards.

Find out what fun surprises await you in your own Backyard BattlegroundFind out what fun surprises await you in your own Backyard Battleground

Once you've finished your exploring, you have a few choices of where you want to take your plant or zombie next. Of course, the multiplayer modes are at the heart of this sequel, as they were in the first game, and the majority of the modes will be familiar to fans of the game. Gardens and Graveyards, Suburbination, Gnome Bomb, Team Vanquish and more -- these modes are all back with new levels on which to play them. Some of the less popular modes, such as Suburbination, might have you struggling to find enough players and the teams may end up a little unbalanced, even then. For the most part, though, the matchmaking works perfectly and you'll find a game to join in seconds. The environments will see you exploring everything from a zombie colosseum to a space centre, and each looks as spectacular as the last. These levels are big enough that you can start far enough away from your enemies but are not so big that you'll spend the whole time searching for them.

The Garden Ops mode has returned and has also duplicated into a Graveyard Ops mode as well, which sees you facing waves of plants as your chosen zombie and allows for some new bosses to be introduced that may seem familiar as plantable pots from the first game, such as the Laser Bean. In both Garden and Graveyard Ops, you face 10 waves of enemies that you must fight off to defend your chosen garden or graveyard, and eventually escape after facing enemies, boss waves and special waves. This mode hasn't changed much from the first game but then it didn't really need to do so. The addition of new levels and the new characters to use keeps the mode interesting, and the different difficulties and quick matchmaking means that the Ops are a good way to kill time and level up if you aren't feeling like head to head multiplayer. Unfortunately, this mode seemed to have some problems with the sound and music dropping out every now and again for now reason. Whilst this isn't too much of an issue, it did get annoying when it happened continuously.

In addition to the Ops mode, there is a lot of missions for you to complete on both the plants and zombies side. Whilst these won't be breaking any new ground, their inclusion is something that is a bit different than the multiplayer side of the game.These are mostly simple quests such as escorting a friend, destroying a certain amount of enemies, or interacting with a group of items. You have to work your way through the different questlines for either side, working for different character quest givers, and both questlines end with the opportunity for you to enter Infinity. This is an endless wave mode that sees players take control of a giant robot and fight off waves of gnomes. While similar to Ops in its wave style gameplay, the opportunity to take control of a giant laser powered dinosaur or cat is hard to complain about. Each of these quests are fairly short and the difficulty can be changed prior to starting, but you'll unlikely have any need to lower the difficulties.

Complete quests, earn XP make your characters the best they can beComplete quests, earn XP make your characters the best they can be

Although the game is so similar to the first, it has had a substantial amount of things that have been added to it. The quest board allows you to pick up both normal and epic quests for you to earn extra stars or coins during your fights. These will see you killing enemies in a certain way, playing a certain number of games of a multiplayer mode or using a certain character to kill enemies. Completing some of these may force you to change your gameplay style slightly, but once you pick them up then you have no time limit in which to complete them. Finishing them also earns a peg on your XP multiplier, so it's well worth paying attention to these quests in order to be able to level your characters up that little bit faster.

The new characters help to mix up the game, but your old favourites all return. There is even the ability to import your old unlocked character from the first game, even if you won't keep your levels. Most people will have their favourite plant or zombie from the first game, but the new characters certainly hold their own. Don't be surprised if you end up with a new favourite. Its hard not to fall for the gormless face of Super Brainz, or the almighty power of Kernal Corn. The bigger choice of characters makes the mulitplayer more interesting and strategies must be mixed up in order to win. The extra characters also mean extra stickers, unlockable variations of characters and customisation items, which means you never know which version of Citron or Rose you might see. I challenge you to name me another game where you can play as a Rose holding a pack of cards that might very well turn you into a goat.

The game's achievement list has a lovely variation between the missions, the multiplayer, the Ops mode and random achievements based on style of kills. You'll be wanting to complete all of the available missions on both sides of the war, and beat the last boss in the Infinity mode as well. This might take up quite a chunk of your time, but you can also level up a character or two along the way -- you'll need to get one character to level 10 a total of five times for one achievement. After 100 waves of Ops and beating three super boss waves, you will probably move onto searching for all of the gnomes whilst exploring the multiplayer levels. Completing 10 epic quests and killing 5000 plants and 5000 zombies will keep you coming back to play this game, but its hard to imagine this being a chore in a game as fun to play as this one.

Summary

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 has managed to take all of the best bits from the first game, build on them and then add more good things on top of them. All of our favourite characters are back, whilst the newer characters that have been introduced are fun to play. One of the biggest improvements is the addition of the Backyard Battleground hub base, and the addition of the single player focused quests, missions and collectibles means that this game appeals to both single and multiplayer gamers more than ever. The bright colours and fun gameplay are ever present and there isn't a lot going wrong here apart from some issues with the sound and music. For fans of the first Garden Warfare game, this sequel is a must play. For those who haven't had the chance to experience the plants and zombies war yet, it's hard to find a reason not to recommend this game.
4.5 / 5
Positives
  • Successful multiplayer modes and matchmaking
  • Lots of new added single player and multiplayer content
  • Interesting new characters with new weapons and abilities
Negatives
  • Some sound and music issues
  • Always online and can never really be paused
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately 25 hours annihilating both plants and zombies while playing through various multiplayer modes and both garden and graveyard ops. This earned her 45 of the game's 51 achievements. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.
Megan Walton
Written by Megan Walton
Megan is a TA newshound and reviewer who has been writing for the site since early 2014. Currently working in catering, she enjoys cooking extravagant dishes, baking birthdays cakes for friends and family in peculiar shapes, writing depressing poetry about life and death, and unlocking every achievement possible.