Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville - Review, new call to arms for EA

Before I tell you about Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, it is good that you are well aware of the story that brought this game to the shelves. Begun in the now distant 2009, the series Plants vs Zombies developed by PopCap Games it has continued to evolve over time entirely, in each of its aspects. Started with the RTS title released for a first period exclusively on PC, the range of action of the work has increased considerably, thanks to the various ports made by the developer. A new publication has in fact arrived initially on the consoles of the last generation, finally on mobile systems. Support for the game didn't stop until a great successor was released: Plants vs Zombies 2, which entered the market with a straight leg during the course of 2013. Over time there has been an interesting progression of the franchise, which has changed the development of further chapters from the ground up. Thanks also to the support of the software Electronic Arts, the initial incipit has therefore been completely reinvented, managing to make the player feel at home given the presence of the same world, but with a completely opposite genre of reference.

This process began with the third person shooter series of titles Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, the first episode of which made its official debut way back in 2014. The game in question didn't just carry the publisher's logo Electronic Arts, as he was one of the pioneers of EA's proprietary engine: the Frostbite Engine 3. The software house PopCap Games managed to master the engine very well, bringing to the screens of the current generation a work of art of a magnificent splendor, excellently packaged through: bright colors, enchanted animations, the typical atmosphere of Plants vs Zombies, and a spectacular soundtrack, hard to forget even more than 5 years after its release.

After the well-deserved success of the first chapter, came two years after the new episode Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. The latter brought back on the market in 2016 the same spirit of its predecessor, but correctly filled many of the gaps that the latter brought with it, also dragging a considerable content baggage with it. The post-launch support that the game received was really exciting, just think that it ended just a few months ago. Just as the end of frequent updates approached, the community began to look closely for information on a possible successor chapter, given that the series still had a lot to say, and all the possibilities had not yet been fully exploited.

Recently, through leaks, the first images of a hypothetical successor have emerged, but the situation has evolved in a rather singular way. In fact, for just over a month, it has been released as a temporary exclusive for donors who have supported the project with specific founder packages, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville.

It is a title set in the same universe as the games already mentioned, yes a shooter, but not a chapter in the saga of Garden Warfare, not the highly anticipated Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 3. After the official release of the game from its beta exclusively for supporters, we were able to get our hands on the official product.

But Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is Garden Warfare 3?

The answer is basically no, but don't worry, we will explain the whole situation in a few lines. Initially, from the first screenshots of Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, one had the impression of being in front of a title profoundly different from the Garden Warfare series, also because given the nature of some screenshots it was suspected that it was centered on the battle royale mode. Well, that's not the case, because the game you're reviewing is in effect the sequel to Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, despite not having inherited the name from the latter. The gameplay remained very similar, as did most of the mechanics, but Electronic Arts e PopCap Games they could have given the public a much higher quality communication about it, avoiding creating the confusion that naturally arose in the community. The reason for wanting to abandon the name Garden Warfare, despite having remained on the genre that that title represents, is not 100% clear, but we will try to give you some clarification on this. For starters, anyone who has played both of the first two shooters will be familiar with the issue of rewards that are passed down from game to game. In fact, exclusive rewards were given to those who bought the second chapter of Garden Warfare after playing the first ... rewards that are not present in Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville. Many internal mechanics are also profoundly varied, starting with the addition of the race, up to the progression system.

The endless war between plants and zombies

There will be no usual introduction to the campaign Mad Dave with his endless search for tacos, but the story will still be a good excuse to proceed in the campaign. This is really basic, seen and reviewed, and serves only to contextualize what happens in the game world. We are absolutely not in front of a story-driven title, it is more than obvious, but the satirical and often nosense tone that has always characterized the series since 2009 is all within the narrative, however minimal this is, and luckily stands out. in positive. At the beginning of the adventure there is a really clear and rather funny tutorial, which introduces in the best way all the mechanics present without leaving anything to chance, and also guarantees the player some prizes to start the long-lived adventure in the best possible way. During the several hours of the game there will be references to the old chapters, as well as to the historical comic lines of the saga. A slightly more in-depth narrative sector would not have spoiled in the least, and we rather miss it, but in any case the game excellently brings back the climate patented by the saga. To contribute to the atmosphere, there are obviously the graphics and sound sector. The colors are more than ever able to represent the magical aura registered PopCap Games, as well as the animations and the fairytale environment. The game world literally captures anyone who comes close to it, sucking it in and leaving no way out, being able to get away from it is a tough undertaking to say hog. Every single frame is potentially a good screensaver, but fortunately the general quality is not reduced to the mere graphics sector. Some small imperfections are to be noted regarding the shooting system, which does not give the right feedback very often on a graphic level, both regarding the trajectory of the shots and the actual fire, but these are all small things that can be easily fixed with future updates. The soundtrack is also very respectable, and manages to shine just as it did in previous chapters, getting into the head and pitching the curtains firmly. Fortunately, all the sounds are also well cared for and suitable for the context, thus showing themselves very often as caricatured and funny. The business card of Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville however, it is undoubtedly the lighting, which with its bright tones, this time especially, even at night, makes the game recognized even from miles away. The scenarios are so many and very varied, some lack a bit of repetitiveness, but all in all it can be said that they are in general one more beautiful than the other.

The main contents of the war on Neighborville

There is obviously no self-respecting multiplayer-oriented game, without a good amount of content to enjoy. Luckily Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, it's chock full of content, at least as far as online modes are concerned. Unlike the previous chapters of the saga, where the maps and the possibilities turned out to be the Achilles heel of a sector that was very little to blossom, in the new title we see the exact opposite. The game system really has many variations, which are also qualitatively excellent, and others will probably be added, weekly and monthly events ensure continuity and new content always present within the universe of the new Plants vs Zombies. So where is the problem? Well, we don't know why PopCap Games took this path, but some of the gameplay revolutions have been a constant stumble in an attempt to renew the saga. The overall feeling hasn't changed dramatically to be honest, and the addition of the ride was a really well thought out and highly anticipated blessing, but the work unfortunately shows the flank in its progression system. Each character, currently 10 for each of the two teams, has his own level that allows him to obtain fundamental skills. These guarantee a customization of the gameplay, a very welcome feature, but to ensure that they were added, the beloved variants of the characters were missing. Inside Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 every single plant and every single zombie had a myriad of skins, linked not only to aesthetics, but to real additions to the game. Unlocking them all was not easy, and created the desire to play in itself, and even if some configurations were stronger than others, the system was summarily balanced and it was all in the skill of the player. In the new chapter all of this has been removed, the personalization, however well cared for has remained an exclusively aesthetic factor, and the variety of characters is defunct along with the post launch support of the previous episode. The online is not then balanced as it should have been seen this very serious lack, which strongly undermines the gaming experience, and which we hope will be repaired by the upcoming updates. Fortunately, the shooting remained quite solid, new skills were added to each protagonist and the fun that the series has accustomed us to never strayed during our rehearsal. The HUD has also been visibly improved, currently this is more minimal but clear. The gameplay has therefore remained solid and even if less than in the past, the player's skill is still essential and important.

Multiplatform, with what features?

Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville was released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One but the three versions are neither linked by cross-play nor by cross-save. The title performs pretty well on consoles, keeping the 30 fps fixed which still makes it playable, and the graphics remain compared to what was previously described, as well as the lighting, the animations and the soundtrack. The main problem encountered on the console concerns the lack of mouse and keyboard support, also due to the frames that cannot be increased on the basic versions. On PC the game performs much better, shining in its final form and requiring a not exaggerated amount of resources, even if not negligible. The graphics settings of this version are also a plus, since it is obviously possible to have full customization of what is projected on the screen. What unfortunately all versions have in common is a loading speed that is not exactly flattering, both in terms of launching and also in terms of online matches, but we are confident of an imminent fix patch that fixes the situation.

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