I had rather low expectations going into the E3 2013 demo for Plants versus Zombies: Garden Warfare, mostly because I dreaded the change to third-person view and the general shift to shooter mechanics that the game was focused on.
But this is, so far, the only hands-off demo at E3 2013 that made me laugh out loud and actually pushed me to get a better understanding of the core game ideas.
Pop Cap has really studied the elements that made its tower defense titles so attractive to players and has managed to keep them all while making the transition to the cooperative third-person action shooter genre.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is a much more graphically intensive title than the original and the Frostbite 3 engine does a great job of bringing the game world to life, with bright color, smooth movement and some well-designed gameplay areas.
The demo from Electronic Arts involved just one level of the game played from the perspective of four garden inhabitants turned soldiers who were trying to keep their zombie enemies at bay.
I liked the Pea Shooter best, with its ranged abilities complemented by quick movement and cool turret choices.
The Sunflower is also an interesting choice and there are multiple ways to use each of the characters and classes to destroy zombies while also keeping your own team engaged in the fight.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is fast and seems engaging and there's plenty for each class to do as levels progress, with teamwork crucial for overall success.
PopCap Games has also injected a lot of its trademark humor into the game, with the level boss shown during E3 built around the disco era, with moves straight out of Soul Train and a number of back-up dancers ready to protect him.
This might not be the Plants vs. Zombies we remember, but it seems like it's an experience that will appeal to both old fans and newcomers.