Why ‘Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare’ is the Best Spin-Off for Some Time


Fans are a fickle bunch. Fans of video games, infinitely more so. These guys aren’t above spittle-flying nerdly tirades on the Internet, so watch your darn step. If a series changes too much –or indeed too little– it’s like a minefield of abuse and/or poorly-spelled death threats via Twitter.

Which is, all told, not fun.

Spin-offs are also a controversial issue. How far can we take our favourite characters? Can we merrily plonk them into any genre we please, like the rebellious renegades we are? Sometimes we can, but only in rare cases can this be pulled off. Consider Mario, for instance.

Nintendo’s moustached hero has been everywhere. Sports games, puzzlers, even an ill-advised cameo in Dance Dance Revolution. Then there was the time he tried his hand at a kart racer, and the rest is history. But that’s Mario; as long as he’s keeping Japanese businessmen in fancy suits and sensible haircuts he can do whatever he darn well pleases.

His prolific career aside, this is partly due to the spin-offs’ great sense of familiarity. Because that inate Mushroom Kingdom-ness is brought so effectively to other titles, the world rarely feels out of place. It simply works. Which I think is the key to Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare’s success.

The game was released for Xbox One, 360 and PC earlier this year, with a PlayStation release coming later this month. It’s a third-person shooter, a different beast entirely to the Plants Vs Zombies we’re all familiar with.


It brings all the typical PopCap crazitude you’d expect, with character classes made up of familiar plants from the original. Peashooters, Cacti, the Chomper and more are here, all ready to be dressed up in silly hats and shades for your amusement. Meanwhile, you can outfit your zombies in huge ridiculous viking beards, and charming accessories like a pencil up each nostril.

So yes, tongues are firmly in cheeks here. Garden Warfare is the most toontastic and absurd shooter you’ll ever see. But this doesn’t mean it’s just a joke of a game. Beneath the surface are some rather solid shooter credentials.

The classes themselves adhere quite well to genre norms. The Cactus is the sniper, armed with the proximity mines (potato mines) you’ll commonly see on the scout class. The frontline assault guy (here the All-Star zombie) has a short-range explosive to flush entrenched opponents out of cover, only here it’s a tiny imp that is punted at them.

The game modes, too, are simply a Plants Vs Zombies spin on the familiar. Standard deathmatches, kill confirmed, objective capture, it’s all here. An hilarious title, there’s no denying, but it’s also rather a deep one. Fans of achieving little objectives to level up characters will find many, many hours of gameplay here.

This is the tentative balancing act I’d say Garden Warfare achieves so well. Fans of the tower defense gem (which is, dare I say it, rather more casual) won’t be too jarred by this foray into a more serious-gamer genre. The transition is a gentle one. By the same token, TPS and FPS fans who have dabbled in Plants Vs Zombies (perhaps in a sort of elite, complete-survival-mode-on-the-hardest-difficulty-with-my-eyes-closed-and-one-hand-behind-my-back sort of way) can also appreciate the game.

Much like Mario’s spin-offs, it’s firmly rooted –how’s that for a little wit-tastic straight to your delicate face– in the series’ universe, but it works.

The VgamerZ Monster Files: The Zombies (Plants vs Zombies)


Yes indeed. These moldy buggers have been de rigueur in games for some time now. Hardly worthy of a place in the hall of fame that is the VgamerZ Monster Files, you’d think. And you’d (generally) be right, if a little cynical. In this instance, though, we’re going to have to make an exception.

The undead of Plants vs Zombies are different. They’re adorably toontastic, they have a zombie yeti in their ranks, and some of them can bungee jump. Some of them wear some rather spangly suits, like the fashion gurus they are. In short, these guys are just far too cool. This is zombies as they should be done, right here.

Presumably, you’re familiar with the game. PopCap’s 2009 tower defense title was a real phenomenon, for dedicated gamers and dabblers alike. It all came from one brilliantly nutty concept: what’s the most ridiculous way to repel an encroaching horde of zombies? By throwing your angry anthropomorphic plants at them. Obviously.

These guys are you last line of defense, and the only thing that stands between the horde and your sweet, sweet juicy brain-juice. Fortuitously, they’re more than up to the job. You place plants of various sorts into any spare square on the lawn, and they’ll (generally) fire projectiles at the shamblers. It must have been a riot to come up with the 50+ type of vicious vegetable, which vaguely pertain to their real-life counterparts.

Plants vs Zombies 2

The squash, for instance, is a a chunky, grumpy looking dude, which will leap into the air and ‘squash’ opponents that blunder into its range. The peashooter, meanwhile, is a little turret that shoots peas. You get the idea.

But the real stars of the show are the zombies. When you see the flag zombie that leads the charge during the final waves, you KNOW something is about to hit the fan. There’s a great balance about the plants and zombies, with each new variant of opponent comes a warrior of your own to counter it. The miner zombie is immune to most of your attackers, as it tunnels beneath them first and eats its way through your ranks from behind. Just as he appears, though, you’re given access to a special mutant peashooter which can fire in both directions.

It’s precisely this aspect that makes the game’s undead so memorable. The guys in the football gear, the bobsleigh team, the dancing Michael Jackson-alike who was hastily changed to generic-disco-dude-with-afro… Best. Zombies. Ever.