The original Plants vs. Zombies game was something of a runaway hit, at least in part thanks to it's accessibility – a "tower defence" game, all you had to do was to plant yourself some horticultural defences to try and prevent any ambling zombie from making their way to your house alive. Er, dead. Powered by sun tokens, which either fell from the sky or were produced from your smiling Sunflowers, your neat rows of Peashooters, explosive Potato Mines and Melon-pults put dents in the advancing brain-munchers before they could reach your home and devour your grey matter. It was a strategy game in the most basic sense, but with a sense of humour and charm all it's own - which developers PopCap will be hoping to carry over to their latest Plants vs Zombie game, a third person shooter called Garden Warfare, that was revealed at EA's E3 conference earlier this week.
Seeing you stepping into the, er, roots of the leafy protagonists we've come to know and love, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare puts you amongst a team of flowers who're now markedly more armed and dangerous than they were before - that's evolution for you, we suppose. Whilst the previous game had you acting as some kind of gardening overlord from above, with your plants carrying out their duties automatically, Garden Warfare is much more up-close-and-personal, as you take control of your favourite greenery directly and move around the levels, mowing down the zombies that stand in your way. Each plant type now has their own set of three special abilities – for example, peashooters can either run quickly and leap over obstacles, throw bombs or set down roots and become a rapid-fire turret, whilst Sunflowers can heal allies or make them temporarily invincible – but each can only be used for so long before it needs to recharge. Garden Warfare hasn't completely abandoned it's roots though [that's still a terrible pun - Ed], as each level also features a number of plant pots plonked in strategic locations, where you can put down a plant or two in the breather between zombie attacks to help you out when the enemies arrive.
During EA's presentation, the team showed off just one of the modes available in Garden Warfare – a four player co-operative battle against wave upon wave of undead. Working with your friends, you have to survive for as long as you can against the zombie tide, each group more challenging than the last, and work together to combine plant skills to take down larger, more formidable foes. For example, you could plant a number of potato mines around a big zombie, then attract it's attention with a Peashooter, before activating your special super-speed power and luring it over the mines for massive damage.
Popcap have also confirmed the game will feature a standard deathmatch mode, where two teams – presumably one of plants and one of zombies – duke it out to see who can get the most kills against the other. Seeing as both of these modes are pretty standard shooter fare we wouldn't be surprised to see variants of other favourites make an appearance too - maybe a 'Capture the Brain' mode, where teams need to steal each others' brains for points, or a 'King of the Hill' mode where you need to reach and defend a designated area for as long as you can.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is shuffling onto the Xbox 360 and Xbox One next spring, and will be a fully-fledged retail game on a disc rather than a download – there's no news of a PS3/PS4 version either, so for now we can only assume it's a Microsoft exclusive. In the meantime we're going to keep our fingers crossed for the more traditional sequel, Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time, may make its way to consoles rather than just 'iOS devices'.