Review: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (PS4)

Another exclusive bites the dust. For eight months, Microsoft had the corner on the plant-based third-person shooter market. Those who wanted to experience plants and zombies shooting each other in glorious 60fps had to plunk down the cash for an Xbox One. All good monopolies (especially for Microsoft) must come to an end, however, and Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare has now made its debut on PlayStation 4. Just like that, the console war has ended, for the Xbox One and PS4 are now rendered identical in the only area that ever mattered: garden warfare.

Even though it’s far removed in gameplay from its predecessors, the general vibe of the series is retained. Four zombies and plants are playable, each with a weapon and three special abilities. For the zombies, there’s Foot Soldier, Engineer, Scientist and All-Star. Foot Soldier acts as your all-around general infantry unit armed with a machine gun dubbed the “Assault Blaster.” They doesn’t excel in any one category, but are a solid basic class. Engineers come with a shotgun dubbed the “Concrete Launcher” and can build crucial teleporters and turrets. Scientists come with the “Goo Blaster” that deals high damage in close proximity. The Scientist is basically the medic and can drop zombie healing stations that restore the health of comrades who stand near it. Finally, All-Stars are the tanks of the game and carry with them a gatling gun dubbed the “Football Cannon” that rapidly shoots footballs. Cool special abilities for the zombies include Warp, which allows Scientists to instantly get out of sticky situations, Jackhammer, which give Engineers a massive boost in speed, and Rocket Jump, which allows Soldiers to launch into the air to get a better view of the battlefield or avoid attacks.

For those wishing to join the ranks of the plants, there’s Peashooter, Sunflower, Chomper and Cactus. Peashooters basically have a built-in cannon as their weapon and a perfect choice for the frontline. Sunflowers are the healers of the plants and can heal teammates with a concentrated ray of sunshine. Chompers are slow and can only attack at close range, but are incredibly powerful and can even do away with enemies in one hit. Lastly, the Cactus are like snipers and can shoot needles from long distances. Notable special abilities for the plants include Chili Bean, a grenade-like projectile spat out by Peashooters, Sunbeam, which lets Sunflowers unleash a devastating beam of light, and Burrow, which turns Chompers into something of a Graboid, allowing them to burrow underground and jump out at enemies.

While there’s only a total of eight playable characters, multiple costumes, abilities and unlockable upgrades make the experience feel robust without resorting to adding filler characters. The incredible thing is how balanced everything is. To have a successful match, you’ll need at least one of each class on the battlefield at all times. This is a refreshing change of pace to shooters that seem to consist of “pick up a gun and shoot it.” It also brings teamwork into the equation more often and makes it an experience that is tailor-made for those who like strategizing on headsets.

Ten maps and three modes are included. The maps are very well done and diverse, featuring locales like a ship port, mansion, city and more. It’s also impressive how expansive the maps are, serving each mode quite well. The modes are Team Vanquish, and Gardens and Graveyards and Garden Ops. Team Vanquish is your standard Team Deathmatch mode, pitting two teams (up to a total of 24 players) against each other with the goal to be the first team to reach 50 vanquishes (kills).  Gardens and Graveyards is a rush-like mode where the plants team is tasked with protecting multiple gardens and the zombies are tasked with destroying them. If a single garden is successfully defended, the game ends and plants win. If the zombies obliterate all of the graveyards, they win the game. While it sounds fairly basic, it’s an addictive mode that requires a ton of strategy to be successful at. Finally, Garden Ops is like a horde mode where plants face ten waves of increasingly difficult zombies, needing to survive the entire assault to win. While these three modes are great, the game modes are ultimately the downfall of the game due to there not being enough of them.

Garden Warfare includes a measly three non-DLC modes. They attempt to expand them by making a “Classic” variant for each map, but as these are practically the same with the exclusion of upgrades, it simply brings attention to the shortcoming in the area. When games like Call of Duty: Ghosts boast ten modes, it’s hard to accept such a low number — even from a game of this type. It’s such a shame, too, as the modes that are here are great and doubling them would have made all the difference, but instead you’ll have to cycle the same few over and over.

Thankfully, the DLC released since launch has increased the amount of content. The Garden Variety, Zomboss Down, Tactical Taco Party and Suburbination Packs are all included and boast a total of four new maps, four new characters and two new games modes. All of this goes a long way in helping remedy the lack of content at launch and makes the PS4 debut feel like a more complete package. Even with all of the packs (which PopCap should be commended for adding), however, it’s still not robust enough to capture attention for months at a time like the best shooters, but it should at the very least make for a fun month of zany warfare.

Closing Comments:

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare improves upon the Xbox One debut thanks to the addition of a few more maps, characters and modes. They still don’t quite edge it into greatness, but this is a stronger package than what PopCap originally debuted. That being said, all four of the DLC packs the PS4 version includes are (and have been) available on the Xbox One as free downloads. Remote Play is novel, but ultimately throwaway, and the resolution increase from 900p on the Xbox One to 1080p on the PS4 is minimally noticeable. Garden Warfare remains a colorful and entertaining experience no matter the platform and one we hope will continue to grow.
 Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4

  • RKO_JPL7

    It’s not a First Person Shooter it’s Third Person.

    • Chris Graham

      Before this article is complete, I strongly feel that it is missing one more extremely significant point. The PS4 version does not allow you to play split screen multiplayer online. Only split screen campaign co-op. On the XboxOne, you can play split screen online multiplayer. I bought this on PS4 and I was really looking forward to that aspect the most. Hopefully this will be fixed with an update. There’s absolutely no reason why this can’t be accomplished on the PS4.

  • Guest

    It doesn’t come with just three modes.

    The game comes with multiple modes.

    Garden Ops

    Team Vanquish

    Vanquish Confirmed

    Gardens and Graveyards

    2 ‘Classic Modes’

    Gnome Bomb

    Suburbination which comes soon.

    Honestly did you even play the game on PS4?

  • Dayman

    “Remote Play is novel, but ultimately throwaway, and the resolution increase from 900p on the Xbox One to 1080p on the PS4 is minimally noticeable.”

    This is what we call bias. Or ignorance. A 633,000 pixel difference is hardly minimal. To dismiss the exclusive features, more content, plus superior graphics and framerate is simply bias or ignorance.

  • RjK311jR

    THIS REVIEW is way off just read the comment below this plus their are numerous free characters i think its like 4-6 varieties of each… if your press right or left on the character you will see ????? which means you probably havent unlocked them… plus the cheetos update (free) and maps (free) I have this on X1 and i have all the Sony consoles too! But this game is so fun! Im 32 and got it for my nephew and we play it so much!!! What a great change of pace, back to basics fun, any one can play shooter!!! Its truly amazing!!! oh and to top it off! POP CAP has been supporting this game a lot with characters, maps, game modes!!! So far DLC has been free!! Only recently did they add micro transactions but its to upgrade faster… To me they have set winnings and in game currency pretty good too… It doesnt take long to add up enough in game currency to buy things some would buy with real money… so again micro transactions are not needed or necessary at all!!! They have managed to do DLC, post-launch support, and micro-transactions/round winnings (currency) all right!!!! I HOPE THIS IS A MODEL FOR FUTURE GAMES FROM ALL DEVELOPERS!!! Micro transactions should only be reserved for upgrading characters faster… such as this game!!! THIS IS A MUST OWN!! IF you dont have it! Get It!!