Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare Review (PS4).

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What would happen if Plants vs Zombies had a head on collision with Battlefield? Well you'd get PvZ Garden Warfare of course and if that sounds as cheesy as it seems, you'd be right. But wait, don't walk away just yet. Popcap's latest entry in the popular PvZ games is unashamed in it's humorous take on all things war games, from Call of Duty to the previously mentioned Battlefield, Garden Warfare's inspiration is clear to see. Despite targeting the same multiplayer focused vibe, PvZ Garden Warfare is still able to achieve a much more approachable and friendly style of shooter, one that can be surprisingly fun under the right conditions.

The lack of single player content is disappointing, but that doesn't mean multiplayer is lacking.
The lack of single player content is disappointing, but that doesn't mean multiplayer is lacking.

Whilst the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty feature single player campaigns, Garden Warfare is without any and at first this is a disappointment. Its clear however that Popcap Games want multiplayer to be the one and only focus and this isn't such a bad move. Of course if you're without access to online play, well you're pretty much screwed. However the online options while simple and predictable are backed up by shooting mechanics that are handled well and the variety of classes and customisation options allow players to find their own personal niche on the garden battlefield.

Now this being a Plants vs Zombies game you'd expect the usual odd moments of humour and takes on genre standards, be it the variety in classes on both sides with Peashooters, Sunflowers, Chompers and Cacti on the plants side and Foot Soldiers, Engineers, Scientists and All Stars making up the zombies force. They might have different names, but don't let that fool you. Each class serves a specific purpose and while there are many more slight variations within each class that can be unlocked via card packs (more on that later) you'll still be more than familiar with this multiplayer shooter. That's not to say it's without heart or effort, in fact I dare say you'll have great fun battling online thanks to the fact that Garden Warfare feeling like a much more laid back competitive shooter than some of its peers.

Customisation is at the heart of PvZ: Garden Warfare.
Customisation is at the heart of PvZ: Garden Warfare.

While player vs player modes make up a large selection of what's on offer, it's not all there is. For those looking to play co-op with friends or with absolute strangers you'll be reasonable satisfied with the Garden Ops mode, pitting you and a team of three other plants to defend a garden against those pesky zombies. In true PvZ tradition you'll have access to potted plants that act as turrets/towers against the zombie hordes and each wave can vary in which zombie types you'll have to defend your garden against. With three levels of difficulty the Garden Ops mode provides some fun cooperative action, although I soon found myself preferring the more competitive multiplayer modes.

You might have remembered me mentioning card packs earlier and that's because card packs play an essential role in what you have access to when it comes to Garden Warfare's class variations and customisation options. There are a selection of card packs with more being added in content updates. The cost of each pack depends on what you'll find inside be it a turret card for use on potted plants (yes you heard me right, there of limited use) to the higher end rarer customisation parts for each class. Then there's stickers, which upon obtaining them all will give you access to class variations as mentioned earlier. These variations are often minor but can provide an added bonus on the battlefield, for example turning your zombie foot soldier into an Arctic trooper giving you the ability to shoot ice bullets which can freeze plants in place. These variations are a nice touch though having to purchase card packs can make the whole thing feel like a free-to-play iOS game at times.

Defend your garden against those pesky zombies in the co-op Garden Ops mode.
Defend your garden against those pesky zombies in the co-op Garden Ops mode.

Card packs can be purchase using in-game currency which I found was sufficient enough to keep me playing until I'd earned enough to buy a card pack, but of course you can also purchase currency with actual money if you're looking to gain access faster. Its an odd system to see in a console multiplayer shooter, but its not quite as bad as it might first seem. Cards will also give you access to a large selection of customisation options. This is one area in which Garden Warfare can feel substantial in just how many customisable items and animations are available through cards, from new hats for your sunflower or peashooter to whole cosmetic skin changes to chompers and zombie all-stars. There's no getting away from it being a familiar trick seen in many free-to-play games, but there's something to playing just that one extra game so you can afford a new card pack and see what you've won, it might just be the thing that keeps you playing.

So does Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare turn out better than it might originally sound on paper? Well yes, in a matter of speaking. There's no doubting that the lack of a single player campaign or even single player modes is somewhat of a let down, but Garden Warfare's multiplayer offerings can still be great fun under the right conditions, even if they are standard modes such as team deathmatch, etc. But if you're looking for a more laid back multiplayer experience than Garden Warfare might be worth checking out, its slower pace makes it a much more relaxing shooter compared to others in the genre and there's something to be said for that.

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