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Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 Xbox One review: Natural addiction returns

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 (Xbox One)

Rating:
Star4
Star
Star
Star
Star

EDIT: A previously published version of this review stated the first Garden Warfare's Garden Ops was a limitless survival mode when it was actually capped at 10, same as Garden Warfare 2's Garden Ops. That has been removed from the review, though that does not change the final score awarded. It stands as originally scored.

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 drops on Feb. 23.
Permission given to use photo by EA

Two years ago, EA delivered one of the most refreshing and surprising shooters in Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. Its follow-up, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, did a fine job of adding onto what the first game did so well, while staying true to what made it great in the first place.

Starting with the game’s solo campaign, Garden Warfare 2 introduces a fun and entertaining way to learn more about the kooky world of PvZ. Players will undertake a variety of missions to help keep the dreaded zombies from taking over.

These quests can be played on a number of different difficulties, though the amount of coins you are rewarded with will not change. Harder difficulties will result in a greater XP multiplier for players, and some missions allowed me to summon other heroes if I wanted. However, be warned if you choose to do that, enemies will in turn become more difficult.

I was not expecting much in the way of companion AI intelligence or effectiveness, but I was absolutely shocked at how helpful and useful companions were. Not only did companion AI work effectively, but they also worked cohesively. In some cases, companion AI killed as many, if not more, enemies as I did.

A near essential hero to accompany me on any mission had to be Sunflower, on a count of her healing abilities. This hero was essential, especially for the missions I chose to do on a higher difficulty. Gamers will surely gravitate towards a certain hero, much like they did in the first iteration, but each hero brings something unique to help complete each mission.

I just about overdosed on the phenomenal puns scattered all over this game. What is refreshing about Garden Warfare is its ability to not take itself, or games in general, too seriously. A favorite had to be L.O.B., which was short for Leaf Operating Base (looking at you Metal Gear Sold 5). Another was the mission name Zero Bark Thirty, which is a nod at the film name Zero Dark Thirty.

The world of Garden Warfare 2 is absolutely stunning and runs at a fabulous frame rate when in single-player. The frame rate does, however, drop when split screen is enabled. Each map is exquisitely crafted with detail and precision. The environments have a nice variety of settings and embrace a diverse color palate. A personal favorite had to be a snow-covered land that players will encounter later in the solo campaign.

It was slightly disappointing, however, to see such repetition and a general lack of creativity when it came to the solo quest’s mission design. The vast majority of these missions embraced the same sort of structure you’d find in Garden Ops, except instead of defending a garden you had just planted, you might be defending a satellite, scattered gifts or other items.

There isn’t much imagination to be found outside of the predictable "protect an item from incoming enemies" structure. It’s great for Garden Ops, but when it came to a seven or eight hour single-player campaign, the mission design structure grew repetitive and boring.

Enemy types did vary as I went through the campaign as well as the game’s other modes. EA has continued to create some wacky and even intimidating enemies for players to overcome, and Garden Warfare 2 delivers some challenging archetypes.

Once you reach the very end of your solo quests, you will jump into an Infinity Time mode that has you try and defeat wave after wave of enemy Gnomes. You control a mech sort of character that has some interesting abilities and this changes up the formula a bit. This survival mode was a pleasant surprise and will be a great tool for gamers to grind for coins, should other avenues fail to entertain.

One thing I did notice when I first booted up split screen for Garden Ops was the fact that the top screen player was dropped into a bland, green, limbo environment. This was the only time I encountered the bug, but it certainly was one of note considering the game had to be restarted when this happened.

Garden Ops is back once again and it’s as addicting as it was in the first Garden Warfare. Progression is littered all over Garden Warfare 2 and this is a very enjoyable element of the game. Whether you are free-roaming around the world of Garden Warfare 2, playing through the solo quests, partaking in Garden Ops or battling in the game’s competitive multiplayer arena, progression is to be had everywhere.

Multiplayer is back in Garden Warfare 2 and it remains one of the best sources for XP. While other modes will net you XP, competitive multiplayer undoubtedly gives you the most. Getting matched up for multiplayer matches in Turf Takeover was quick and easy during my pre-launch time with the game.

It’s worth noting that each time you are killed by a human player in competitive multiplayer, your kill-to-death ratio against that person then comes up. This helps establish rivalries on a match-by-match basis. I enjoyed this as a way of learning who owned me and who I owned.

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 has a massive amount of rich, entertaining and wacky content for players to enjoy. I know I’ll be spending another 30 hours on Garden Ops alone, but EA has managed to bring some interesting, new ingredients that help make this series as fun and addicting as it was the first time around.

Pros

  • Hilarious, wacky humor
  • Addictive Garden Ops
  • Companion AI

Cons

  • Repetitive Mission Design

EA provided Examiner.com with an Xbox One code of Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 for the purposes of this review.

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