First Look at Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare

Okay. Before any of you call me out on this; I know. I am basically using first look articles to go down the list of things already covered at E3. I am climbing slowly but steadily the ladder of the video game blogosphere,  I was not able to attend this year, and its high time I caught up with the rest of the world. On that same note, I will be turning most of the “video projects” that are currently holding me back into written articles. I need to make a habit of streamlining my work by making a tight schedule with a solid backup plan should anything bog down. I am shooting, filming, acting out, scripting, editing, and adding special effects to all my videos by my lonesome. Unless someone out there wants to help me for cheap, it’s going to take a while for me to catch up. I will still try to crank out videos every weekend, but until I can make my own deadline with one, you’ll have to settle for my finely printed words. You guys come first, not the videos.

Don’t worry; I will have everything in full swing by the time Christmas rolls out, and I got a big surprise planned for all of you to reward your kindness and patience. It’ll be worth it. You’ll see.

 

In the meantime, lets continue the first look streak I have going on here, and take a look at the opening trailer sponsoring the upcoming 3D shooter by PopCap games,

 

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare

Cool, huh? For those of you not familiar with the Plants vs. Zombies game, it was basically a tower defense game made by PopCap games, the same company responsible for Bejeweled and other web arcade classics. To put it bluntly, the game goes like this; your house is on the left of the screen, and the zombies are coming in from the right. The majority of the game takes place on your lawn and the lawn is separated by squares. By gathering “sun” from the sky and from your sunflowers, you can grow plants on each square that can combat the zombies. Pea shooters shoot peas, potatoes act like land mines, chili peppers are like bombs, and like I said earlier, sunflowers produce sun. This is, of course, just a few examples of a continually expanding universe flooded with different plants and zombies that go from disco zombies to flaming stumps that light shooting peas on fire. Really.

The game started out as a web-only computer game on PopCap’s website, then expanded to both a Facebook adventure game and a direct sequel for the smartphone. Come February 18th, Garden Warfare will debut for the Xbox One, followed closely by it’s release on the Xbox 360. The results look promising, as always, but that’s never an excuse to let your guard down. Here’s what I see so far.

The roster so far. Image from PopCap.com

The roster so far. Image from PopCap.com

So far it looks like something that the dev team wanted to do, as opposed to need. With all the speculation surrounding how consoles are becoming the new arcade machines (in the sense that they are becoming outdated and might be replaced), bringing their game from mobile digital distribution to console almost seems like a step backwards. That being said, the characters look just as good in 3 dimensions as they did animated in two, and it looks like almost everything you see in the first game is making their appearance here.

I was a little worried when I first saw this that PopCap was simply making another cheap Call of Duty clone, but from what I read and see in the gameplay trailer, it takes important elements from both their own game and more innovative shooting games like Team Fortress 2. The roster seems set up neatly; you got the classic Pea shoot as a kind of machine gunner/grenade launcher combo. Classic for most shooters in general. We have the Chomper, who is mentioned as a melee fighter, but seems to play almost like a stealth character since it can burrow underground untouched and kill enemies with one bite(much like they did with the game). The Sunflower is a healer with abilities akin to the Medic from again TF2. We have what I think is a new plant called the Cactus that shoots powerful spines over long distances. Can someone say…sniper?

The plants don’t just serve as characters, however. You saw the chili bean bomb, the potato mine by the cactus, and even a “garlic drone” that flys in the air and releases a “corn strike” that works like a missile strike in Call of Duty. Plus you have plants that can be potted to act as “turrets” that give you fire support in addition to your arsenal. Some shoot peas, others throw punches, all are good for covering a choke point in which zombies invade.

Also from PopCap.com. Zombie Engineer!

Also from PopCap.com. Zombie Engineer!

Zombies get similar treatment, but mostly as enemies in this example; we got the regulars, the cone head, the bucket heads, which both seem tougher. Since this is a more traditional-style game, we also got bosses like the Disco Zombie you saw and/or the giant celebrating “bring your imp to work day”. Such a tone is reminiscent of the cartoonish flavor all too familiar with fans of the series.

It’s hard to notice, but if you listen carefully at the beginning, you can hear the team start off by placing a “home garden” before playing. I have no idea what this is, but if my prior experience playing video games amounts to anything, I have a few educated guesses.

First guess is that it is the home base; a vulnerable home base that needs to be protected. Like the briefcase in Team Fortress’ “Capture the Flag” mode, this is something your team needs to protect and the other team needs to destroy. There is already evidence of possible zombie playable characters sporting their own firearms, plus the recent introduction of a “Boss mode” where you can manipulate zombies RTS style on your tablet or console device. Both suggest team based competition, and destroying the enemies garden will probably be on the zombie teams agenda, while destroying the cemetery or mansion will be the plant teams goal. It’s pure speculation, of course, but follows the formula for multi-player modes to the tee.

Second guess is that the garden will serve more as a safe house. Not unlike the other FPS zombie title, Left 4 Dead, the garden will be a place where you can stock up on ammo and gadgets, which probably include extra peas, spikes for the cactus, more chili bombs and potato mines and other good stuff. I didn’t see any ammo gauges for that, though, so its even more likely a place to stock up on health and-or a spawn point when you lose a life. Either way, while it will be seen primarily as a place to “Stock Up”, I doubt it will be safe unless you do the same thing in this game you did in every other Plants vs Zombies game; work hard to defend it.

Third guess is a roster base; i.e. a place where you can switch weapons and characters without pausing the game. You basically play your plant as best you can, and when you need a new weapon or plant altogether, you go back to the garden and switch things up. In this case, you might not even need to protect it, since you can plant another one and you only haver to make sure you don’t run out of lives.

Garden Warfare seems like the type of game that is unnecessary but inevitable. With the rise of online and mobile games, and Plants vs Zombies being one of the crown jewels in both now, it seems only natural that the game franchise expands to one of the few platforms left. Let’s just hope they put the same passion in this game that they did in their previous games, and cross our fingers come 2/18.

Update:

For those of you who are also reviewing video games, take heed; check the source before assuming you know it all. Apparently zombie classes are official in this game and have already been showcased on video at Popcap.com . Check it out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OydbE1Mb7pg


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