Plants or Zombies – that is the question?
Whichever you decide, you’re bound to have fun with Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, which is essentially Garden Warfare 3 in all but name.
You could have been playing Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville for some time now if you bought into the early access founders pack, and you’d have also saved yourself a bit of dough. Now, however, the final release of the game is available for all. Tweaked into ship shape, it costs a bit more but it still packs in a generous amount of content for the price. And you can be sure that further updates and events will be released further down the line.
Your fun with Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville always begins in Giddy Park. There, you’ll find the HQs of both the Plants and the Zombies, as well as a giant area full of rides and other amusements that’s just for fooling around. Though of course, it’s mainly meant to for people to shoot each other in the name of fun. It’s the functions found in each faction’s HQ that will have you returning to Giddy Park often, however.
Whether you’re playing as Plants or Zombies, and you can switch between them pretty much at the drop of a hat, your HQ is the place to change your character, as well as customise and upgrade them. It’s also the place to jump into multiplayer games, hone your aim at the shooting gallery, and exchange the coins you’ve earned for either a boost of experience or a random capsule containing some goodies. It’s your hub, and a wonderfully compact one at that. No function is ever more than a few seconds away.
For those who see the Plants vs. Zombies series as more than multiplayer mayhem, the factions HQs also serve as portals to three open-world areas full of entertaining campaign missions and challenges. Enjoyable on your own or as part of a four-person team, Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville‘s campaign content is juicier than ever. The competitive multiplayer aspects still provide the long-term appeal, of course, but it’s worth playing though the campaign to get to grips with the game’s tweaked returning characters, as well as the three new recruits for each side.
The Plants have been bolstered by Night Cap and Snapdragon, who are at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to playstyle. Night Cap is for those who like to be sneaky, concealing their presence until they can land a powerful strike. Snapdragon, on the other hand, is for those who like to be bold, boasting fire-breathing attacks that light up the battlefield.
On the Zombies side is a couple of retro wonders. The 80s action hero is just cool, and hits hard with his missiles, homing rockets and dropped explosives. In contrast, Electric Slide appears much less dangerous, but she can bolt out of combat with a bout of invulnerability before unleashing electrical attacks.
More interesting are the new team-based characters introduced to each factions. Up to four players entering battle as Oak & Acorn can stack themselves atop each other to form a sturdy tree, while up to four Space Cadets can combine to form Space Station which is much more formidable. If you happen to be playing with people you know then teaming up up can be quite effective and fun, but with randoms it might just leave you in despair. Still, it’s a nice option to have, and it adds a little more variety to the combat.
Chances are you’ll find a few characters that you love, and will concentrate your time on mastering them while making them your own. With many skins available, not every Snapdragon or 80s Action Hero has to look the same. And they don’t have to play entirely the same, either. Each player can customise the range of characters available with upgrades, each allocated a certain number of points. Only seven points worth of upgrades can be equipped at any one time, with more advanced upgrades being unlocked as characters are levelled up. Whether players decide on many low point upgrades or just a couple of powerful ones is something they must mull over.
In terms of competitive multiplayer, Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville has all the modes you’d expect. Turf Takeover and Team Vanquish make a welcome return and play just as good as ever. Vanquish Confirmed, Gnome Bomb and Suburbination are back, too. New to the lineup, however, is Battle Arena, a 4v4 round based elimination mode. Taking place in The Funderdome, it’s fast-paced and tense, which makes it a welcome addition.
Ops mode is the final way to play, providing the co-op wave-based fun you’ve come to expect from the series. The waves get harder and bosses try to put an end to your efforts as you progress, but with turrets to activate across the map, you can turn the tides in your favour work as a team and cover each others backs.
Whether you play on your own, in co-op with friends or against strangers in competitive multiplayer, you’ll be impressed with Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville‘s glorious visuals that are bright and full of character. It’s hard not to adore both the Plants and Zombies as they’re both brought to life so wonderfully. But more crucially, the game performs and plays perfectly. The controls are responsive, and on Xbox One X, at least, I’ve not experienced any framerate issues or stutters while playing. It makes Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville an easy game to enjoy.
It doesn’t reinvent the wheel: as mentioned at the start of this review, Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is Garden Warfare 3 in all but name. But that doesn’t really matter when the product looks and plays so good, and has plenty of fresh new content. With an expanded campaign, new characters and more customisation options, this is the best Plants vs. Zombies game yet. If you’ve ever enjoyed choosing a side and engaging in the comical antics of these two unlikely factions, you’re sure to get huge amounts of enjoyment out of Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville.