When you decide to give your name a pun like "Garden Warfare" you're committed to doing something really silly with it. Fortunately, PopCap has a reputation for doing silly rather well, and Garden Warfare is hyper-colourful and bursting with lovely animations that will have PvZ veterans grinning. But although it's clear that the developers have really enjoyed reworking their characters into roles that suit a team-based shooter, I'm not sure it does enough to warrant the current price tag.
As expected, being a fan of the original game certainly helps here, with the abilities you'll unlock for each character being based on those used by their tower defence counterparts. The Sunflower can drop sunlight to heal nearby teammates and although it now has a bunch of offensive options (this is a shooter after all), they are tied into the plant's original mechanics. It works well and despite a few questionable balance issues, it was a pleasure to see how each class managed to maintain its own unique theme.
Although you'll immediately be able to access all of the core classes on both sides, there are a number of specialities that alter how the class functions which need to be unlocked. These character perks, as well as a bunch of cosmetic changes and consumable plants that can placed mid-game, are acquired by opening booster packs (think Mass Effect 3's multiplayer), which are purchased using in-game coins. Microtransactions are not set to be active for the game's launch, which is a welcome surprise, although it wouldn't be a surprise to see them later down the line.
Here and now, however, after unlocking the abilities for each of the characters I felt I'd had my fill. I was hoping for something a little different to hold my interest, not more of the same Team Deathmatches, Base Offence/Defence and Wave Survival that we've played in countless other games. I'm glad to see a return to the franchise that doesn't involve a free-to-play model, but as far as multiplayer shooters go this feels like a nice change of pace, rather than a long-term alternative.
Version Tested: Xbox One. Played for 5 hours.