‘Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare’ Has Us Testing Our Green Thumbs

New entry in hit series changes gameplay but retains same sense of fun.

After two incredibly popular tower defense titles, PopCap Games is now entering into the third-person shooter genre with “Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.” We got a chance to preview the game, so here’s what you need to know to make your garden grow:

Garden Warfare
Gameplay consists of fighting off wave after wave of zombies, stopping them from consuming your garden and eating your precious brainmeats. Previous “PvZ” games employed plots of land to plant your vegetables, so “Garden Warfare” has several terracotta pots that can house anything in your arsenal.

The big difference is that you’re going to be down in the dirt fighting off the undead. You’ll have to run around, planting defensive and offense veggies while engaging zombies with your plant’s particular power. For instance, you can play as a peashooter, a kind of pea pod that blast out seeds, as well as a number of other plant types each with unique abilities. After you get the hang of it, some waves throw out a curveball with powerful boss zombies that require lot of teamwork.

Fields of Color
Right off the bat, “Garden Warfare” is a colorful game with a vibrant palette that really pops. In a sea of brown and grey, this color variety plays up to the light hearted nature of the game. Think of it like “Battlefield” but with eggplants and carrots. It’s really fun-looking and reflects a cartoony world where animated plants defend their garden against a zany army of zombies. After years of dark, gritty shooters, it’s nice to have one that’s bright and cheery for a change.

Prune Your Plants
There are tons of ways to unlock and spruce up your army. You’ll earn points after matches that can be saved and used to purchase booster packs. These booster packs randomly dole out upgrades, cosmetic items and new characters.

Couch Co-op
Another big deal is local split screen multiplayer. Combined with SmartGlass (see below) you can have three players in the same room. This isn’t a complete game changer but it’s a great way to get more people involved, as opposed to online randoms. Still, we advise players to play in full screen to get the most of the scenery… But if little sis or bro wants to try, split-screen is a welcome addition.

Mobile Support
The game also features online support incorporating Xbox SmartGlass (or iPad if that’s your thing) by allowing you to drop into a friend’s game with a bird’s eye view of the playing field. As a kind of leader unit, you can earn airstrikes, parachute health pick-ups or even place coconut radars to show the zombies on your map. It’s a great way to get friends interested in the game, and give them a way to affect the outcome of matches.

“Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare” will be released on February 25 for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.