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The mega-popular tower defense franchise makes a jump into the third-person action arena with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Featuring both co-op and versus multiplayer modes, the game captures the series’ signature humor by imbuing the characters with far out personalities. During the co-op oriented video, a team of four plants squared off against zombie hordes as well as several bosses, like the Disco Zombie (which swung around a disco ball for his special attack) and a big zombie/little zombie pair that looked like Master Blaster from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Multiplayer is scheduled to go the route of Battlefield 4, with the ability to pit 64 combatants against each other—which is a lot of vegetation and corpses running around.
It’s hard to not be drawn into the game’s cartoon world, which looks more like a Pixar cartoon than any ever seen before it. The varied abilities of the four plant characters is really impressive, with the game taking plenty of its cues from the original games. Each plant sports a main attacks, more powerful rooted attacks (where the plants cannot move and fight), the ability to place turrets and other reinforcements, and even call in air strikes (garlic anyone?).
I actually caught myself laughing out loud during several of the sequences, just because the action was so outrageous. The zombie characters are uniformly crazy, and the special zombies are really creative. Even the song that accompanied the Disco Zombie boss cracked me up.
However, I was disappointed when speaking to one of the designers, as he told me there are no plans for any sort of single-player mode—even with bots. The whole thing is being developed for co-op and multiplayer play; I sincerely hope they change their minds here, as sometimes you just don’t have people around that you want to play with, no matter how good the online matchmaking is. And sometimes, you just want to practice your abilities before going online and embarrassing yourself.
It is the lack of single-player that lowers what would otherwise be an awesome rating from me. I think Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare has a lot of potential, but without single-player—and never having seen the larger-scale competitive multiplayer—I’m not going to let myself get too excited. That only leads to root rot.