I've never done as much damage to an enemy team in multiplayer as I've managed to do with a zombie buccaneer's parrot drone.
Call of Duty and Battlefield, as whacky as their oh-so-hardcore multiplayer modes can be, would never conjure up a sentence like that in a review. Why would they? They're trying so hard to be 'realistic' and 'gritty' that they've forgotten what it's like to just be fun.
And make no mistake, Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is all about the fun elements. You can still walk into the game aiming to score as many kills as possible, capture all the objectives and level up your zombie or plant heroes. Ultimately, at the end of long sessions, even if everything hasn't gone my way and my precious Kill/Death ratio has been shot to pieces, I've left with a shrug and a grin on my face.
That's important. That's something I feel has been missing in multiplayer shooters for a long time.
What's also important is having a decent chunk of single player content. In this, Garden Warfare 2 falls short of offering us a full on campaign, opting instead for a series of missions that are passably entertaining and can net players a small profit of coins, accessories and experience. It's also a good way to road test different character classes before heading into PvP games, where the real action is.
There's a bit of exploring to be done in the hub region, the Backyard Battleground, whose map is divided neatly into Plant and Zombie territories. The mysterious glowy treasure chests peppered around the landscape contain a mixture of loot, but these can only be opened with stars, which you earn by completing challenges. You can also boost your EXP multiplier if you finish enough of these, turning in up to double the amount of experience you'd normally get.
Garden Warfare 2 might be functional as a single player experience, but it's all too clear that it was built with online PvE and PvP in mind. That said, I unlocked enough extra content for the single player missions to justify themselves; it didn't feel like a waste of time.
The daily challenges encourage you to try different game modes, but I've found myself gravitating towards deathmatch and conquest modes by default. Garden Warfare 2's map design is wonderfully deranged, from low gravity spaceports to portal-infused theme parks and robot factories.
Different classes can take advantage of high and low ground, and each feels balanced in its own sweet ways. The chomper, for instance, can one-hit kill almost any zombie on the ground, but after devouring its prey it's highly vulnerable to counter attack. Imps can summon giant mechs, boosting their firepower tenfold, but these can easily be outmanoeuvred by clever players.
I hope there isn't an absurd attempt by PopCap to balance things perfectly, because the fact is that some classes are designed to take down others. If one zombie or plant doesn't work for you, another one just might.
Garden Warfare 2 might be a parody shooter, but it manages to outshine the games it's mocking by a significant margin. It warms my cockles. It reminds me why shooters were fun to begin with and gives me hope that they can be fun again.