By Kimari Rennis
It wasn’t love at first sight. I would see Plants Vs. Zombies in the Xbox Live store and think, “Ugh, one of ‘those’ games.” I criticized the game so much without even touching it. One day I took the step and bought it to play. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was addicted. Collecting sun, setting up defenses, going through challenges, and thinking of my own strategies to beat the hordes was all I could think of. I can proudly say that I beat Zomboss more than ten times in a row without failing. Then came Plants Vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time. This game was my highway ticket to a place I never wanted to leave and I happily stayed. I was forever a fan.
I remember persuading three of my best friends into buying Garden Warfare. (During an Xbox Live party chat, they would ask what I was playing.) Zach, who’s more of a hardcore gamer, dropped Call of Duty, which was his favorite game, just to play PVZGW. Vanity, who was new to PVZ, happily called the Cactus a pickle when she finally bought the game. For her, this game was a big step in the multiplayer gaming world. Even Henry, a humorous Resident Evil fan and my friend from elementary school, bought the game and wondered along with me why the Sunflowers purposely refused to heal people during Garden Ops. It felt good to be creating a sort of team or squad for such a silly, wonderful game.
We’re all around the same age and are gamers on a variety of levels. Yet we finally found a game we could all relate to. Because of our different personalities and experiences in gaming, we all had our own play style in Garden Warfare. Zach was very fond of Juggernauts and wild animals, so he played a very defensive Chomper. Henry, who was very used to running and gunning, chose the Peashooter. Vanity, chose the cactus because it was an ongoing joke no one could let go. And I chose the Sunflower because I am supportive. But I also thought that everyone needed a healer because everyone kept dying.
We’d find each other during matches and camp on rooftops and in treehouses. We would revive each other, yell and get panicky during intense games of Taco bandits and blame each other when we lost a game of Gnome Bomb. The game just brought all of us together and brought the best of teamwork and humor to all of us. In Garden Warfare, I would wait for the servers to clear up late at night to admire the map’s beautiful atmospheres. I would do the same early in the morning before school. Sometimes I would come across another player like me and go head to head before I got yelled at to get prepared for school.
A few things PVZ and I have in common are, we both don’t take ourselves seriously, we both make terrible puns, we both wear silly hats, and we both take things to the next level.
Garden Warfare turned my favorite series into a chaotic and colorful 3D shooter. PopCap didn’t lie when they used the slogan “Shooters just got weird.” This is a game where possibly genetically modified plants fight the undead who are trying their absolute best to try and get a brain. Playing constantly left me with some memorable moments. I remember when I first got the game and I pushed myself to earn 40,000 coins to try and get the one character I always wanted: The Toxic Pea. Grinding through every match to earned each and every coin was worth it just to open that sticker pack and see Toxic Pea’s gas mask and radiant glow.
Just look at how awesome the trailers are! Who wouldn’t love this?
When I play, I’m in in a totally different world – A world that I craved to stay in every time I played. A world with teammates constantly having my back. A world with time travel, teleportation, and sentient agriculture. A world with strategy and humor, a world with edible airstrikes and chilly bean bombs. A world with a zombie carved into the moon. A world where you settle your all your differences on a lawn or over a card game. A world where you stop the launch of a tactical cucumber, and soar towards a guardian lighthouse. A world with discos and Yetis. A world with football tackles, ice cream hands, potato mines, and pushing a giant golf ball over bridge and under cliffs. And a world where scientists have created weaponized dolphins. As weird as it may sound, the PVZ universe has a more interesting world than ours. To me, their world is more joyful and full of creativity than ours, a world full of crazy imagination to interact with and muse about. To relive these moments, I purchased Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare for my PS4. It feels so good to dodge trains on Jewel Junction again!
The whole entire franchise of Plants Vs. Zombies gave me the most entertaining and bonding experiences I ever could have. Plants Vs. Zombies boosted my creative side, brought me happiness, and most importantly, and brought back the feeling of being an imaginative kid younger than the 14 years old I am now. Those were the times in my life I truly enjoyed and missed. Although it may sound silly to give a videogame so much credit for impacting my life, I will always use this franchise to replenish my lost joy and my child-like spirit. Those are the things I value most in life. I hope the Plants Vs. Zombies series continues to thrive because no matter how old I become, this franchise will always be my digital getaway.
Kimari Rennis is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with the Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.