When I reviewed Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, it was my first experience of the first person side of PopCap’s classic take on the defence title. It’s great fun and EA and PopCap have released a new free update for the game.
Titled Trouble in Zombopolis Part One, this huge new content adds a giant new map, two crazy characters and over 1,200 new character customisation items. This really is a huge update, weighing in at a hefty 5.3GB. This will add Breakfast Brainz and Toxic Citron, pictured above.
Dive into Zombopolis, the biggest zombie map ever created. Here, Dr. Zomboss and the zombies are plotting to build a Mega Zombot that may put the fate of plant-kind in grave danger.
In addition to the new massive map, new characters and new items, Trouble in Zombopolis will also offer gameplay balancing.
Zombopolis will open up to players as the most massive zombie city ever. This new Herbal Assault map gives the player sewers, streets, buildings and more to battle it out in. Take control of the toaster helmeted Breakfast Brainz who can fire waffles from his fists to ward off the invading plants. Alternatively, handle Toxic Citron, sporting some new abilities over regular Citron.
Part of the balancing improvements include increasing Sunflower’s damage output and reducing Electro Brainz damage. The developer have improved the Boat Blast Mini-Game in the docks in the Backyard Battleground. Compete with friends in a new leaderboard for this part of the game.
There is also a whole ream of bug fixes for characters, quests and general in-game goodness. These can be found on the official PvZGW2 blog here.
So, fire up Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 and expect to be introduced to Trouble in Zombopolis part one and all the content and fixes that it contains.
When you think about multiplayer shooters, pitting an army of animated and deadly plants against the equally as animated and deadly undead probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. PopCap and EA Games hit paydirt with the 2014 release of Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. It was quirky fun with a fetid tongue rammed firmly into a rotting cheek. Will Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 build on that smoking mound of success?
If I was making this a short review, the answer to the above would be yes but before you make up your mind on whether or not to buy it, at least read to the bottom of the review.
The game begins with the fact that the Zombies have returned and have a firm, if decaying, foot planted in vegetative territory. The new title builds on the rather tight-budgeted first release by adding six new playable characters, three for each faction. While it may have replaced the original tutorials with short side-missions in order for you to get to know your way around these new characters, the game itself bears all the hallmarks of the surprise hit of the original.
So, while you’ll probably blast your way through these missions in short order, the opportunity to get to know the new characters a little better shouldn’t be ignored. You’ll start off as the plants, and the new characters are all available straight away. Citron, with his shield, EMP bomb and beam weapon is rapidly turning into a firm favourite of mine. Kernel Corn has a rapid fire rate and missiles, counterbalanced by slow movement, and Rose; well, Rose is a bit of an enigma to me. Initially she’s relatively weak compared to the others, but I’m sure that with time and practise, Rose would be a significant foe.
If you turn to the zombie side, and you can, then the new characters are Captain Deadbeard, a frankly disappointing pirate; Imp, whose special abilities include a Titanfall-style mech that drops from the sky to deliver devastating attacks, and Super Brainz. Brainz is a hulking melee powerhouse, with poor ranged weapons.
Other than the side missions you can sign up for, you can also simply sit and camp in your home base and either watch some action unfold in the no-man’s land in front of you, or join in and rack up some handy experience points to level characters up. Around your home base there are many interesting and rewarding things to do. Take the Vending Machine for example. Downed foes often drop loot, and if you collect that loot and save up enough of it and you can hit the Vending Machine for packs of special ability cards. These cards give you rewards ranging from plantable defences to character customisations and special character skins to play with. The side missions will also reward you with coinage to redeem.
There’s a great range of potable defences and help points to grab from the machine too. It’s a great resource to tap. From pea-shooters to healing sunflowers, all tastes are catered for as the game gives a little nod to its tower-defence style roots.
If stats are your thing, you can disappear into the back of your home base and find all the stats that you’d ever wish to see. In the Plants base, Crazy Dave has initiated a robot to take you through the missions while Dr Zomboss offers equally challenging side missions for your new characters to attempt.
There are other aspects to the game though. The multiplayer options are where Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 comes into its own. Indeed, it’s where the title starts to shy away from it’s fun, well-drawn, well-animated roots and starts to turn into a competitive, blood-thirsty, all-action romp. The type of action you’d expect from the likes of CoD or Battlefield. EA and Popcap have taken the best from the original title and applied a thick smearing of extra characters and new maps, all of which are a credit to the game. Graphically, the game is every bit as good as, if not even more refined than the original. Take that refinement away, however and what have you got?
You’ll be disappointed to learn that despite the relatively high price tag, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is an online only title. Logging into the EA Servers at the launch of the game sometimes takes its sweet time and if you’re looking to play the game offline in solo mode, it simply isn’t going to happen. This in itself isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is limiting the enjoyment for anyone who hasn’t taken advantage of hooking their Xbox hardware up to the wonders of the internet. Having said that the multiplayer modes offered make me point and laugh at those foolish enough not to introduce their Xbox to the internet.
Six multiplayer offerings are presented to you, in all of their madcap and crazy goodness. From the newly added Turf Takeover to a cosy beginner’s mode for noobs, there’s something to keep you entertained, even if the other modes are mainly the usual one option fits all deathmatch, capture the flag or team deathmatch formats.
Throughout all of the game, the graphics are well presented, with movement befitting the character you’ve chosen, even down to the way you expire. The aiming and shot accuracy are usually pretty good, with things like scenery providing that little bit of extra cover to duck behind if the going gets a little too heavy. Add to this the ability to spit out a little taunt or two via the D-Pad and you got yourself a solid multiplayer romp that gives you the opportunity to develop some skills to take forward into what is traditionally considered to be the more serious multiplayer shooters. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is for the beginner or the younger market though.
As you are all probably aware Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is coming to Xbox One on the 23rd February, but what you might not know is that those nice people at EA are granting all players with EA Access memberships a 10 hour free trial starting tomorrow.
Following what EA have done in the past with games like Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefield Hardline anyone who has membership to their subscription service EA Access, will from tomorrow be able to download PvZGW2 and play the full game before its official release.
Plants Vs Zombies 2 put players into an all-out battle, where for the first time in franchise history, zombies have conquered Suburbia and plants are on the attack. Players can now go on the offensive as the plants in all-new modes including the 24-player Herbal Assault mode, or rally the zombies together and defend against the plants in the 4-player co-op mode, Graveyard Ops. Six new character classes are now available and you now have a choice of over one hundred playable plants and zombies from the past, present, and future.
As with any 10 hour free trial the clock only runs as long as the game is open so make sure you close your game when you finish playing to stop the countdown (a mistake I made in a previous trial). The good news is that if you decide to buy the full game all your progress is carried over, including Player Loyalty Rewards.
For more information on EA Access and what great offers it has check out their site here.
The annual Con of Con’s kicked off last night in San Diego with their Wednesday preview night. Over the next 4 days San Diego convention centre plays host to the hottest names in comic books, fantasy and sci-fi fiction authors, TV shows, movies, gaming and general geek/nerd culture. In 2014 San Diego Comic Con held over 700 separate events throughout the city including hotels, the Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park and of course it’s massive convention center of which the exhibition hall is over 460,000 square feet alone.
A regular exhibitor during the annual event is of course the Microsoft Xbox team and this year they’ve put together a superb line-up for those willing to venture across to the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel (a five minute walk from the convention).
If you are in San Diego this weekend or simply interested to know what Xbox related fun you could have been having whilst mingling with A list celebrities, then keep on reading.
The Xbox Lounge has over 90 gaming stations for fans to get hands on with upcoming titles including Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Forza Motorsport 6, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. Everyday throughout the convention the team on hand will be running daily Xbox One tournaments, shoutcasting, celebrity appearances, signings, and more. The Halo 5: Guardians fans at the show should make sure to also check out a new Warzone map that will be revealed at the Xbox Lounge via a massive 6′ x 6′ map constructed by Mega Bloks.
The Xbox Lounge is located in the Manchester Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom and is open during the following times:
Thursday, July 9: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Friday, July 10: 11 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 11: 11 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 12: 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Highlights include: Halo 5: Guardians “Breakout” Comes to Life, Xbox Tournaments Powered by ESL, Halo 5: Guardians at the Xbox Booth (#100 in SDCC) and The Gathering of the Laras (cosplay event). For the full list of programming at the Xbox Lounge, check out the official Xbox events schedule.
If can’t make it down to the Manchester Hyatt then make sure you at least drop by the Xbox Booth in the convention center for daily giveaways. Of course the biggest draw for many at San Diego Comic Com is the 1000’s of panels held across the four days located on and off site around the convention. Not wanting to miss out Microsoft and varios developers and publishers can be found holding talks in the following locations on the following days:
A Rare Chit Chat: Past and Future
(Room 24ABC: Thursday, July 9, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.)
Join developers from legendary game studio Rare as they celebrate 30 years of creating hits like Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie, and Perfect Dark. Explore the origins of classic titles, see how the Rare magic continues to shape future projects and meet the team behind some of gaming’s best-loved icons as they prepare for upcoming release of Rare Replay.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition: The Art of Improving on an Xbox Classic
(Room 6A: Thursday, July 9, 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.)
Reigniting the passion and fervor of Gears of War fans, Xbox and The Coalition take fans behind the scenes of the fan favorite franchise – re-imagined and reloaded for Xbox One. The panel will feature Rod Fergusson (Studio Head, The Coalition), Peder Skude (Sr. Game Designer), Kyle Gaulin (Cinematics Director), and Bonnie Jean Mah (Narrative Director).
Hunt For the Truth: Following the Trail of the Halo 5: Guardians Story
(Room 6BCF: Friday, July 10, 10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.)
Join 343 Industries and special guests as they examine the compelling and prolific storytelling in and around Halo 5: Guardians. This panel will bring new insight into the mysteries surrounding the Master Chief, and sneak peeks of the stories we have yet to tell. Q&A session following.
The World of Albion – The History and Future of the Groundbreaking Fable Series
(Room 5AB: Friday, July 10, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
Game Director David Eckelberry and Lead Designer Alex Skidmore talk through the evolution of the pioneering Fable series. Fable’s latest incarnation – Fable Legends – is no exception, bringing cross-platform play and 4v1 multiplayer, whilst maintaining the popular attributes of the franchise that players have come to love.
The Evolution of an Icon in Rise of the Tomb Raider
(Room 25ABC: Saturday, July 11, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
Join key leads from the award-winning Crystal Dynamics development team – including Camilla Luddington (actress and voice of Lara Croft), Rhianna Pratchett (lead script writer), and other surprise guests – to discuss the journey of one of the most iconic characters in entertainment history.
Building the Halo Universe with the Collectible Mega Bloks Series
(Room 24ABC: Sunday, July 12, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
A worldwide fan-base of passionate players building an epic universe beyond gameplay. With over 65 million Halo game titles and over 35 million Mega Bloks Halo sets sold, some of the world’s most hyper-engaged fans are bringing the Halo universe to life through construction, helping to shape this legendary world in their own way. Fans can expect teasers of the new Mega Bloks Spring ’16 line and a look back at the history of Halo and Mega Bloks, info on how the games become builds with behind-the-scenes stories and making-of moments, why Halo chose Mega Bloks, and what’s next for both brands.
There are many other panels during the event with more big named developers and publishers offering up insights into newly released and upcoming games. For more information or to plan the rest of your Comic Con experience head to the official Comic-Con schedule builder.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get more exciting! Whether you’re at San Diego Comic-Con or following along at home, Xbox giving you a chance to win a collectible Xbox One.
At SDCC: Be sure to check out the custom consoles on display at the Xbox Lounge. You’ll need to tweet or post your favorite console on Instagram with #XboxSweepstakes and #SDCC for your chance to win.
Xbox owners who didn’t make it to San Diego also have a chance to enter from home. Keep your eyes peeled for the sweepstakes on your Xbox Live homepage over the weekend for details on how you can also enter.
Are you in San Diego this weekend for Comic Con? If so please let us know what you think of the convention and if you manage to get your hands on any of the games in the Xbox Lounge.
Join Greg Giddens, Neale Jarrett, Richard Berry and Derek McRoberts in another special show focusing on E3 2015. In this first of two parts the foursome discuss games they’ve been playing, such as The Elder Scrolls Online, Another World and Elite Dangerous, before discussing the conferences and their reveals from E3 2015. Plenty of the usual lively banter and jokes see the foursome through 3 hours of E3 talk, with plenty more still to discuss, so look out for part 2 in the coming days.
Bethesda kicked it off, Microsoft then wowed us, but it’s now time for veterans EA to show us what they have in store for us this year and next.
First off is a new teaser for Mass Effect 4, showing off a new lead character suited up in N7 armour, all in-engine footage – representative of gameplay but not actually gameplay footage of course – and then the reveal of a title change to Mass Effect Andromeda. Indeed then this latest entry in the series is set in a new galaxy and fills us with excitement and intrigue as questions such as: how they got to the Andromeda galaxy, if the Mass Effect drives from the Milky Way were repaired, and whether the Reapers will show up in Andromeda? We can’t wait to carry on the story, but we’ll have to wait until Holiday season 2016 to get our hands on it.
Next up was Need for Speed. After a short introduction, visual performance and quality that would blend seamlessly with live action footage was proclaimed, then came the footage that proved their claims correct. Firstly live action actors in a garage set the scene for customising your car, then the camera moved to your car and broke down the areas you can modify, revealing that the garage and car were CG. Expansive customisation options were promised as well as five over lapping stories and a release date of November 3rd this year. Then gameplay footage was shown off, looking as realistic and awe-inspiring as they claimed, with spectacular detail and lighting, certainly approaching photo realistic. Additionally a wonderfully intense chase camera was shown off that tilts as you speed round corners. It was a highly impressive showcase.
Next came an announcement of continued support and content creation for Bioware’s Star Wars free to play PC MMO, Star Wars The Old Republic, along with a full expansion, free to subscribers, called Knights of the Fallen Empire, which promises the kind of story experience Bioware prides themselves on. A lengthy, and stunningly beautiful, CG trailer showed off the new expansion’s story threads and indeed looked intriguing. It will be available 27th of October this year.
Something a little unexpected was revealed next, a charming and cute physics puzzle adventure called Unravel, where you control an adorable character made of yarn through the perilous world as he unravels and uses his yarn to manipulate the environment, swing around obstacles, and solve puzzles. No release date yet, unfortunately, but it sure does look good.
Next was some more information about Plant vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, which was previously revealed in the Microsoft conference. Gameplay footage was shown this time, showing the same crisp, cartoon graphics as the original as well as the same wonderful sense of humour. The new zombie characters shown off were crazy and thrilling to witness, fighting equally crazy plant enemies. The new four player Grave Yard Ops was shown off as a squad of four zombies completed an objective whilst fighting off the plants before exfiltration. It was also revealed that there would be a singleplayer experience against the AI which can be played cooperatively split screen, and you can transfers unlocked characters from the first game. Finally a promise of support and free content updates was proposed.
The EA Sports titles were shown off next. Largely it’s the expected annual iterations, but tweaks and new features make them fresh each and every year and this year seems no exception.
NHL 16, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour 15, FIFA 16, Madden 16, and NBA Live 16 were all shown off, each featuring enhanced visuals and animations, women’s teams in FIFA, and precisely the kind of refinements you’d expect to improve each games realism and sense of control.
A new feature being rolled out to all titles is a new tutorial training system that hints which buttons to press and when during play to help you better understand the control system and the advanced moves and tactics available to you. Additionally a new Game Face app will be launched alongside NBA Live so you can create a character that looks just like you in-game. Its accuracy appears to be pretty good, but time will tell.
NBA Live will also feature a new physics based live motion system, which, through dynamic animation, achieves smoother, more responsive, and realistic movement and control of players. Ball handling has also been tweaked so you can release the ball when taking a shot when you want. Certainly these refinements and new features are the kind of things EA need to bring to the series to compete against NBA2K, and it’s looking like they have a winner on their hands.
Several CCGs (collectable card games) have appeared this E3, and EA has a new Star Wars one, Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, hitting portable systems soon. Additionally Minions Paradise takes the adorable and hilarious Minions from the Despicable Me films and builds a management game around them getting stranded on an island. The humour appears spot on but it’s another from a long list of tapping management games on mobile.
Mirrors Edge Catalyst was shown off next, with a mix of pre-rendered and gameplay footage showing faith kicking butt and free running smoothly and impressively through the minimalistic, glass filled open city. There are no levels, no loading, it’s a free roaming experience, and it’s coming February 23rd 2016.
The final game in this conference is Star Wars Battlefront, and the highly anticipated gameplay reveal. The previous in-engine trailer whetted our appetite but we needed to see it in action to better judge the visuals and experience, and this gameplay footage did not disappoint. The visuals are absolutely stunning, achieving a close to photo realistic look, with all the authenticity of accurately modelled assets based from props, and all the superb sound effects from the films. The battle for Hoth was the setting for this gameplay reveal, showing off the ground combat between the rebels and the Empire, combat against AT-STs and AT-AT Walkers, as well as air combat with X-Wings and TIE fighters. It all looks superb, sounded astonishing, and seemingly played beautifully. We can’t wait to try it out for ourselves, and we won’t have to wait long: the release date is November the 17th this year.
EA pulled off a very impressive conference, showing us precisely what they needed to get us excited for releases later this year and in 2016. Ubisoft is next, let’s see what they can wow us with.