The Plants vs. Zombies franchise has exponentially expanded its audience and game types over the years. In 2014, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare ushered in an entirely new and refreshing take on the quirky universe. Now Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 has done everything a sequel should do. It stays true to its gameplay while adding in enough new content to make the game feel like the next step up.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 follows the same premise as other games in the franchise. There’s not a story per se, but that doesn’t mean it lacks character. Crazy Dave, the pot-wearing, nonsense talking genius behind the idea of using plants against the zombies has always been a sidelines adviser and not terribly relevant to gameplay. Garden Warefare 2 doesn’t change that, but Dave’s transition from 2D comic-style character to a fully rendered 3D character doesn’t have the best results.
Of course, all of that is secondary to the gameplay, which is what Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is all about. Like its predecessor, the game is a third-person shooter where you can play as a variety of plant and zombie characters in a number of game modes ranging from turf war type games to strategic tower defense. The entirely new gameplay element is the addition of a hub world, where you can play as any character and complete missions to gain coins. You use the coins to purchase card packs containing a variety of items, just like in the first game. The hub world is a great place to spend time if you’re not up for jumping into a multiplayer match. Solo gameplay was completely absent from the first game, so it’s a very welcome addition here.
The other new parts to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 are the new plant and zombie characters. You can still play as all the classics from the last game, and you can even import all of your characters from the first game into the new game, though they all start at level 1. There are three new plants and three new zombies. On the plant side, you’ve got Rose, Citron and Kernel Corn. On the zombie side, the newcomers are the Imp, Captain Deathbeard and Super Brainz.
Rose is a mage-like character who attacks using a magic staff. Citron is similar to the Citron in Plants vs. Zombies 2, except this one is mobile by splitting into segments and walking around like a crab. Kernel Corn is, well, a corn plant that has some attacks with a pat of butter.
The Imp is a familiar character. He’s appeared in all of the Plants vs. Zombies games, but usually attached to another zombie. In the first Garden Warfare, he was a special attack for the All-Star. In Garden Warfare 2 he’s all on his own and has the special ability of calling down a mech that he can hop into and do some serious damage. Captain Deathbeard is a peg-legged pirate with a pistol. Super Brainz is a zombie superhero complete with mask and cape.
To be completely honest, I’ve had a bit of trouble using the new characters, but I’m sure that’s a practice problem. Looking back at how long it took me to master all of the classes in the first game, I’m nowhere near matching that level of effort.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is rated E10+ with descriptors for Animated Blood, Crude Humor and Fantasy Violence. The violence descriptor shouldn’t come as a surprise. This game is all about shooting. The crude humor is in reference to some of the things Crazy Dave says and the Engineer zombie character who has a plumber variant and whose pants are sagging a little too low in the back. There will be little flashes of “blood” on the screen when you’re getting hit, but it’s not very prevalent and dying doesn’t show any blood at all.
Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a ton of fun, just like the first one was. The tagline for the game is “Bigger. Badder. Bigger.” I usually find taglines like these to be a little bit too much bragging, but in this case, the tagline is completely fitting.