PopCap's most iconic franchise is back for more chaotic battles so water your plants and dig up your zombies and let's get to it.
Ever since their delightful compilations on Xbox 360, I've been a big fan of PopCap Games. Although their games were mostly copycats of other games, I enjoyed them immensely as they were always bursting with enjoyable gameplay and a fun-filled aesthetic while maintaining the perfect level of challenge. This made each of their releases feel like an arcade game. When Plants vs. Zombies released, I loved it so much that I remember playing it instead of working at my job. I even recall when my wife and I went to Vegas and she was shopping at the mall, I simply sat on a bench and played the heck out of it on my Vita. A little over 5 years ago, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare debuted which took the world of the original and put it in a 3D online multiplayer shooter / tower defense hybrid game which felt weird but it was ultimately enjoyable. A sequel released a couple of years later and now, here's a brand new entry in the series!
If there's one thing that these online shooter Plants vs. Zombies games do well, it's offer simple and intuitive gameplay that gamers of all skill levels can enjoy. Of course, some players are clearly better than others but considering everything is mostly team-based or cooperative, you can still find yourself on the winning side even if your skills are lacking. It's this widely appealing formula that makes it such a popular game and if you're looking for some casual lighthearted online entertainment, you can't do much better than this.
PvZ: Battle for Neighborville boasts a vast array of content to enjoy. Heck, even the main hub area is a joy to wander around as you talk to NPCs, configure your character, see other players having fun, and even do a little target practice. Once you're done that, you can jump into an online match or play through an impressive single player sandbox-style experience. There, you complete missions while levelling up and earning cool prizes, collectibles, and currencies. It's enough to be a game on its own and I had a ton of fun with it.
Anyway, the online matches consist of a wide variety of modes. I prefer the cooperative modes which play like survival challenges where you fend off hordes of plants or zombies with the odd boss thrown in. Meanwhile, the PvP matches are all team-based and include the modes Battle Arena, Turf Takeover, and Team Vanquish as well as Mixed Modes which allows you to enjoy nifty variations such as Gnome Bomb, Suburbination, and Vanquish Confirmed. Switching up what you're playing makes the gameplay consistently feel fresh.
One aspect that I love about Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is its presentation. I played it on my new OLED TV and this game features HDR support. Needless to say, it looks fantastic as if it's a cartoon come to life. The cast of characters is wonderful, too, and their little gibberish voices and downright hilarious dialogue made me smile whenever I talked to anyone.
Finally, Battle for Neighborville definitely has some downsides that are difficult to overlook. I saw some folks online talk about how it's missing some content and features from the Garden Warfare titles but I only played those for a short while so I can't justifiably comment on this but please keep it in mind and do some research if you're a fan of the 2 Garden Warfare games.
Anyway, the first thing that annoyed me about PvZ: Battle for Neighborville is that certain scenarios seem to repeat too often. Only after a couple hours of playing it, I fought the same boss a few times and encountered the same types of hordes over and over again. Yes, the various modes help mix up the gameplay but you'll still do the same things repeatedly. Next, the characters move super-slowly. You can even have them run and while they do, many characters have their legs wildly flail about but they still move much slower than you'd expect. Last but not least, many of the bosses have very similar patterns as they mostly spawn, do some sort of move, and then disappear only to reappear somewhere else. I found that formula to be highly irritating and it got stale very quickly.
Online shooters don't get much more charming than Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville. So, if you want a simple game to wind down with for a few hours then you won't regret giving it a try but just keep its downsides in mind before taking the plunge.
- + Simple, intuitive, and highly enjoyable gameplay either solo or online
- + Fun-filled and charming game world
- + Loads of variety and content
- - Certain scenarios seem to repeat more often than they should
- - Character movement is too slow
- - Boss fights can be annoying