The Xbox 360 version is like this, except more muddy and choppy in motion.  Image courtesy: EA

The Xbox 360 version is like this, except more muddy and choppy in motion. Image courtesy: EA

Salutations! This is e27’s debut game review. We’re making it short and straight to the point so that you can get to the gist of whether the game is worth buying or not at a glance. Let us know what you think in the comments box below! 

In a nutshell: Remember that popular tower defense game from PopCap Games with the plants and the undead? Here’s what happens if the series aped Call of Duty, but with actual colors.

It’s fitting that the phrase “the grass is greener on the other side” is apt when it comes to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and it’s not because of its botanic theme. Oh sure, there was positive buzz last week, but Asian gamers may not be aware that it’s the Xbox One version international critics were talking about.

For context, Microsoft’s next-generation machine isn’t even officially out yet in our humble region. Ergo, there hasn’t been any official critique on the Xbox 360 port of the shooter. With that said, the port retains the the joy of co-op based shooting with radiant pastels, despite a number of technical faults here and there.

To recap, players who religiously follow Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 will get into PvZ: GW faster than they can feel charmed by the colorful and quirky universe. The default Garden Ops mode have four people take host of the plants (with four different classes) as they have to protect a designated garden from the undead horde for ten waves, complete with an escape sequence once they’re successful. The competitive-minded can instead go for Team Vanquish mode where four Plants and four Zombies collide for a first-to-50 kills match.

What separates this from other core shooty-bang-bang titles is that it’s tailored to bring in newbies into the fold. A mode called the Welcome Mat specialises in giving greenhorns a fighting chance, as death will net them more health after a respawn. Additionally, pop-up guides, short video clips on class skills and challenges that indirectly teach players how a class works, helps with the learning process exponentially.

As you keep playing, you’ll get rewarded with coins in-game that you can use to get extra support cards, card sets that form into new playable characters, and cosmetic items. Because what’s more fun than mauling an animated Little Shop of Horrors tribute while wearing a monocle and a top hat? The beauty is that every activity from planting support units like a gatling gun pea shooter, to hunting down zombie chieftains and zombie-respawning tombstones nets you coins.

Every character's power is offset by someone else from the opposite team. Image credit: EA

Every character’s power is offset by someone else from the opposite team. Image credit: EA

The more daring the task, the bigger the earnings. Just hearing that satisfying coin tally as you’re actively helping out your team is incentive enough to play your best in any online match. The bright aesthetics of the game’s universe helps bring in that cheery feeling as you play. In the long run though, the game’s simple mechanics aren’t going to get core shooter fans invested for too long.

That’s all well and good, but there are some rotten bits festering on this cabbage patch of a port. The online can get a bit iffy, with bouts where players can get disconnected for no other reason without so much an explanation. There’s no split-screen mode and Boss Rush mode on this version of the game. Some funky graphical glitches pop up, like character models popping up feet first at the screen when starting up the game’s customisation screen.

The graphical and frame rate downgrade from the Xbox One version is a given, but the game still runs decently. This does, however, highlight a disturbing trend that has been going on for a while: half-hearted ports of games obviously tailor-made for next-gen. It starts anew, and it ain’t making things pretty.

Worth playing for: The fact that you finally get to play as the antagonists you’ve been decimating since the original PvZ.

Watch out for: Getting an Xbox Live Gold account just to play it. It’s mandatory. The total cost is the copy of the game (US$29.99 or S$34.90) plus an Xbox Live Gold membership (from S$29.80 onwards).

In closing: Xbox One comparisons notwithstanding, this team-based shooter is a textbook example of how to get more casuals into the gun-savvy trenches. Call of Duty aficionados will see this as h’orderves than a prime rib, however.