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PvZ:GW – Stranded Review

July 21, 2014

A number of us have been having a riot playing Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. The above video shows Cornie, and other Stranded if you look closely, going on a defensive tear halting the enemy’s push to deliver the Golf Ball bomb. In the end, the enemy was stopped just inches from the finish line (cropped for brevity’s sake). Having played both sides of the objective, I am amazed at how many times the bomb gets stopped just before the finish line. It is incredible game design, actually: a meter longer and no team would make it, a meter shorter and they would make it all the time.

The player classes, and choices and customizations within classes, along with various AI options available through a slick CCG delivery system, add depth to the game not present even in the sprawling, almost-decade old, community-supported Team Fortress 2. To keep the game “casual”, PopCap gives out 1000 coins just for a “good try” even when your team loses the round. Combined with the comical theme, this ensures that no one takes the game too seriously. In tens of hours of gaming there hasn’t been any rage quitting (that I know of). As Zos said, the game is really the best of most of the games out there, including the randomness of the original Gears of War. It begs the question, do we need our shooters to be designed with random elements presented in a highly comedic fashion, to keep us from melting down in our competitive zeal to win at all costs? How can one shout out “Bullshit!” to a smiling sunflower whose sole objective is to heal other cute plants and stop bumbling, plumber’s-ass-crack-flashing, Village People zombies?

One of the highlights of our evening was when, as the Zombies, we started trash-talking the Plants, calling them “Weeds” and “Aloe-Vera” and sh!t. You probably had to be there, but we were rolling at the time (as I am while writing this).

It doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t require skill, because it does. There are a ton of skills and strategies that can be employed to ensure your team’s victory. And to be certain, it is no fun getting dominated. However, the frustration doesn’t last long and one can switch over to a very enjoyable, albeit less coin-rewarding, Garden Ops mode until the calmer heads prevail.

Preparing for this article, I realized that there are a bunch of Zombies that are only present in the Garden Ops mode, and I marveled at the potential for a new Garden Ops VS mode a la OverRun in GoW:J. The game is incredibly deep, and more importantly, fun. At $24 bucks, it is one of the best, freshest deals out there.

For reference, there are four maps complete with unique finishes for the Gardens and Graveyards playlist: Main Street (set the dynamite), Cactus Canyon (deliver the golf ball bomb), Driftwood Shores (kill the lighthouse sunflower), and Wall-nut Hills (breach the mansion). Garden Ops mode.

Plants. Zombies.

  1. July 21, 2014 9:54 pm

    In the video, be sure to watch closely at 1:42. An All-Star, coming from behind, runs right past Cornie a Pea Shooter, to push the Golf Ball. I am laughing so hard I can hardly type! Cornie drops a chili bomb and kills all five of the team who didn’t even notice he was in the midst of them. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  2. July 22, 2014 1:21 pm

    I Love that new game mode! Haven’t played it yet, but watching it was fun enough all by itself. I was playing PvZ a Lot when it first came out. Ready to dive back in!

  3. July 22, 2014 8:30 pm

    Kenai, it is actually just the finale stage to a regular but new “RUSH” map, but the finales are part of the genius of the game. Such an awesome change of pace. And yes, the “Payload” (as it is called in TF2) game mode – escort the bomb – is a terrifically fun gametype. It concentrates all players on a single location crazy chaos, and the “run alongside your enemies” happens every single round.

    Johann, Cornie, and I played PvZ:GW past midnight last night (and that never happens at our house). There have been many additions and changes since it was first released, all at no extra cost to the gamer. I hope they continue that trend, as they did with ME3.

    After spending my first 10 hours of the game almost exclusively with the Engineer and Cactus, I have started branching out in my dabblings with the other classes. I fell in love with the All Star yesterday, though I forgot on several occasions to use my Imp Bomb, which would have made me just that much more deadly. The problem with him, however, is that his contribution to the team is a little more nebulous than say that of the Sunflower or Engineer. I cannot wait to unlock his Long Bomb Imp and his Ultra Tackle. I also had a lot of fun with the Sunflower.

    My next class will probably be the Soldier. One thing I prided myself in BF:BC2 and BF3 was timely, appropriate use of smoke. In PvZ:GW, I heard that you even get points for it as it takes the health of the enemy.

    While it is darn near perfect, I do want to compile a list of the few and very minor tweaks that could improve the game. Please feel free to mention what you think should be changed.

    1. Points a la BF4 Conquest for taking the garden. As it is, there is almost no reward for spending time in the garden to capture it. Similarly for the Plants, there should be a flow of points for being the counter number in the garden preventing capture of it.

    2. Optional/better mapping of abilities on the controller. For several classes, aim-sensitive abilities are mapped to the “Y” button rather than the more appropriate bumpers, while non-aim sensitive abilities are conversely placed on the bumpers., e.g., the drones should have the strikes mapped onto a bumper rather than the “Y” button. We are forced to release the stick for the brief second when we launch the strike. The other abilities such as Jack Hammer or Sonic proximity mines etc. could easily be effectively used on the “Y” instead.

    3. Nerfing of the Scientist’s Dolphin gun, and all his weapons in general. As it is, he is so deadly, very few gamers use him to revive his Zombie teammates because he is so effective as an aggressive attacker. But his purpose is to revive.

    Lastly, this past weekend, we spend the better part of a day rearranging the Man Cave. Because we no longer play on opposite teams, it is no longer necessary to avoid screen watching. Now, we have three 24 inch monitors lining one wall, and our chairs (easily moved closer when things get intense) against the other. A lamp providing soft lighting sits tall above all three and with the bright colors of the game, the whole room is incredibly cheery/relaxing. Is anyone else dreaming about this game? When I lie down, I literally have the wacky music running through my mind. Crazy! It is great having something to look forward to for my holidays in the middle of heat-wave prone August.

    • Blankman permalink*
      July 22, 2014 9:03 pm

      I hear the same whimsical music going through my head when I lay it down, too! LOL Since, PvZ: GW came out in Feb. of this year, it has seriously become the front runner for my pick of GoTY. Now, obviously other big games haven’t been released yet such as Evolve, Alien: Isolation, AC: Unity, etc. However, I will admit that I had absolutely no idea that this game had sooo much depth. It’s actually a game for everybody from little kids to some of us- old timers. That is a recipe for success when you can capture that kind of player pool. Seriously, great design & fun gameplay. In addition, the stickers packs/leveling goodies makes it that more addictive.

      I agree with your button-mapping complaints, Suns. Some of their default layout decisions are boggling & non-intuitive, but it’s not a severe enough hindrance that it makes difficult to adapt to gameplay. One thing that I’ve noticed that may add to the fun is that there is no melee feature with the exception of the All-Star & Chomper classes, Zombies & Plants team, respectively. The more I think about it, I think that contributes greatly to gameplay. And you are correct, there hasn’t been any rage quits from anyone yet. It’s hard to get so worked up that you stroke out when you have so much humor & fun-filled styling of the characters & set pieces. I absolutely love taunting my vanquished opponents. The Foot Soldier’s running man thrust gesture is gut bustingly hilarious. Bwahaha!!!

    • July 22, 2014 9:17 pm

      Great point about the melee!

      Yes, unless the class is actually a melee based class like the Chomper, there is no melee! The melee, like the stun grenade, has little to no place in good game design, in my opinion. BTW, even the All-Star Tackle can’t really be considered melee because it is just a charge like the Retro Lancer execution, or the Charger charge in L4D2, and it requires, what, 60 seconds to recharge? When you have spent your tackle, and everyone is still standing, you are left there with your dick hanging out, and a long wind up for “Natasha”.

      For something as complex as this game, the balancing is spectacular.

      Update, I just checked out the Boss Mode app, and I can run it on my Kindle, but I have to have my Xbox running (remotely?). Not sure how that is going to work out but I look forward to exploring further when I get home today.

      Games, brother!

      Tell Katie next time she wants to play golf, it will have to be in Cactus Canyon! LOL

  4. July 22, 2014 8:45 pm

    Two more things. We haven’t even tried Gnome Bomb yet. Could be fun, though I have always loved Rush when the maps were well designed.

    Two. Boss mode runs within Smartglass, I think, and it is “Commander” mode for the tablets. Pretty cool for those who don’t have access to the game proper. I am going to see if I can load it onto my Kindle Fire.

  5. July 23, 2014 9:57 am

    I’ve been Missing Out!! Funny cause for the longest time, it was I playing with only Flenser, occasionally Cornie, and a few others. I am IN tonight (probably a good chunk of the evening). Depending on what everyone is doing (i.e. Destiny Beta). I did download it last night and I’m sure I’ll get a full report from Luke when I get home this evening. Finally, The Man Cave!! Great visual, and “Well Done!” Might be home this weekend (for once…), looking forward to all the “Fellowship”.

    • July 23, 2014 1:45 pm

      Jimmy, my sister arrives tonight and she isn’t a gamer. I may not be on much for the next two weeks, but between Destiny and PvZ:GW, I am sure most of the rest of the crew will be. Enjoy!

      After my sister leaves, my holidays start in earnest and I plan to be on a lot. 🙂

  6. Blankman permalink*
    July 24, 2014 12:24 pm

    I feel like 3GN & the usual suspects (Grymmie, rED, & Zos) when I play PvZ: GW. So, this is what it feels like to be a slayer. Ha! Yesterday, I had three huge games with kills: 36, 44, & 46 with the Fire Chomper. He’s my ish. I seem to have grasped the strategy for that particular character class. On the zombie side, the Foot Soldier and the Engineer are my go to choices.

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