Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
E3 Preview – Plants VS Zombies: Garden Warfare
Plants vs Zombies has to easily be one of my most favorite games to date, so when E3 showed the announcement for Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare I was very easily thrilled. Granted the trailer started like a Worms game, which was a little confusing, until it all kicked in and then the Internet seemed to explode. A third person shooter Plants vs Zombies game? Wow! What makes this title even better is that, while it was announced for the Xbox One at E3, it will also be making it’s way onto Xbox 360. This means anyone with Microsoft’s old console can enjoy the madness that is the latest PvZ title.
In case you managed to miss the E3 presentation and the tonne of coverage that followed, you first need to have a look at the trailer and gameplay for yourself. It will make it a lot easier to understand why this game already looks awesome. First let’s have a look at the trailer.
Until you hear the characteristic ‘Noooooo’ of someone having their brains munched, the trailer looks surprisingly similar to another FPS shooter game, for example CoD or Battlefield. Once the scream is over and you hear the ‘Brains’, you can probably guess the trailer is going to go insane. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare definitely delivered on the crazy front, with the fact that it’s a 3D third person shooter being the most surprising announcement. It does sound a little nuts: taking a successful 2D game and turning it into what we just saw, but it wouldn’t be Plants vs Zombies without a little crazy. We get to see plenty of familiar faces returning as well, including the explosive Chili Pepper, and these are shown in more detail in the gameplay video that follows. From the trailer alone I was quite excited about the concept, but the gameplay really helped seal the deal for me. Let’s take a look at the 4 minutes of gameplay footage we were shown:
At the moment you can’t really see much by plot, which is fine. In true PvZ style you seem to be tasked with creating a base and fighting off waves of undead which gradually get harder to defeat. It all culminates in a ‘Boss’ round, similar to the Gears of War Horde mode. The level shown would presumably be one of many areas you need to defend, and being able to plant other Plants in pots to help you survive is a great mechanic to add. It’ll make the game playable whether you’re on your own or with other players, plus it means there could be a wide variety of tactics to each level. It’s also great to see Crazy Dave making an appearance. With Dave being there it seems to give you objectives, making it much more than just another shooter game.
The main emphasis seems to be on the characters and that each one has a unique quality. We start off by being introduced to the Peashooter, who seems to be the basic character, the bog standard shooter. If this were an MMO they would be the Warrior, or the one who does most of the attacking. It also looks like the character has certain summoning abilities (judging from the meter on the bottom right), which is demonstrated when the Peashooter spawns a Chili Bean. Now, anyone who has played the Plants vs Zombie games (whether on PC, console or Facebook) knows that the Chili Bean is highly explosive. It certainly seems like a great crowd control tactic, although it has got me wondering how many times you can abuse these. Do they become available again after a specific time? Or can you use them once per ‘life’, before you need to die to reset it?
We next get introduced to the Chomper, who would be the tanking character. Basically he runs around, chomping zombies one at a time. Quite vulnerable, but if you have a good team then I imagine you could do quite a lot of damage as it. He plants another Plant that is completely new to the series, the Bok Choy. Judging from the trailer, I would say it punches the heck out of any zombie silly enough to get close! The next plant we meet (probably the one I’m going to end up playing as to keep everyone alive) is the Sunflower. The sweet, innocent Sunflower – now with extra added sunlight bullets! It looks to be pretty good as an offensive character, but it also heals the other plants. It’s exactly how I end up playing when I’m on a multiplayer game, keeping the rest of the team alive. I also love the action it does to reload and the accompanying sound effect! Finally we have the sniper, or the Cactus. In the original game the Cactus was used to hit zombies who were floating on balloons, since it could stretch up taller and pop them. Sometimes this caused more problems than it was worth, but now it appears to be a no-holds-barred Sniper. While I know the team was put together specifically for the purpose of this video, the four characters do seem to work together extremely well. The Cactus also has the ability to summon a Garlic drone which can call in a form of air strike. As if blasting it from the ground wasn’t enough!
As lovely as the main characters are, I think the most entertaining part of that video was the arrival of the Disco Zombie. His dancing looked a little like my dad if he were dead, which is a scary prospect! The Disco Zombie is quickly followed by the Gargantuar, another annoying yet pretty good enemy. Throughout the video we see what appears to be mini-achievements popping up on the left hand side, so these could either be bonuses given at the end of each level (for example extra experience if your character levels up) or they’re just trophies of your battle, similar to the commendations from Gears of War. I can see myself wasting hours on end trying to get one of each (I’m just irritating like that).
While the game is pretty awesome, it’s also the art style that helps sell it. You’ve still got the similar cartoon art style, only this time in 3D, and the bright and quirky colours are actually pretty cheerful despite the fact that you’re a plant shooting the undead. It looks gorgeous, it sounds as wacky as it’s predecessor did and it has still maintained the trademark level of humor that Plants vs Zombies is loved for. I can also see this causing a few arguments over who gets to be what character! Based on all of these factors, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare has quickly made it’s way to one of the most anticipated games to emerge from E3 on my list. There’s already a mode where you can play as the Zombie horde instead of the plants, and the trailer really has me excited for more announcements. Alternatively, if someone could invent a time machine, travel forward and bring me a copy that would be awesome! (Preferably for the Xbox 360 as the Xbox One won’t be available until the end of the year).
What do you think though? Is it perhaps enough to sway you to the side of the Xbox One, or will you be getting it on Xbox 360 (or PC when it’s released later)?