Title: Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville
Developer: PopCap Games
Release Date: October 18, 2019
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Plants Vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville has found its way to Nintendo Switch, and although I don’t consider myself a huge hero shooter fan, I thought it was time I gave this game a try. Regardless of my previous experience with competitive shooters, I found the gam’s general charm to be an open door to this genre. We previously reviewed the PS4 version, so we will be focused on the Switch version for this review.
Plants Vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville ultimately nails presentation. It’s bright, cheery, and goofy, and it doesn’t hold back for a second. This is also found in the playable classes, from zombies in superhero tights to an orange with a shield and Gatling gun. I found it easy to sit down, play a couple of rounds, and then go about my day until I eventually feel like playing some more. This pickup and play mentality makes it perfect for the Switch.
The game offers three modes to choose from, Turf Wars, Graveyard and Garden Ops, and Explore. Turf Wars is your standard mode where you play in a team of 8 characters to fight for dominance against the other team. Graveyard and Garden Ops is a horde mode where you play cooperatively with 8 other players. Explore is a single-player experience where you navigate a map and get acquainted with the gameplay.
These are all pretty standard for a game of this genre. Battle for Neighborville doesn’t do much to stand out gameplay-wise. Each character specializes in either attack defense support of swarm and has three abilities that range from calling a mech to launching a grenade. You can also customize the character by equipping abilities that change how you play slightly. Leveling up grants you access to better and more specific abilities to suit your own play style.
While I do find myself engaged, there are problems that I can’t help but notice as I played. The one that bothers me the most is the long load times. It can take anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute to load into a game. The more annoying moments happen when you sometimes load into a match that’s about to finish. If this happens, you have to sit through another load screen, but this one is a little shorter.
There are also times the framerate can come to a crawl regardless if you’re playing in being docked or handheld mold. I have noticed this happen the most on the cutscenes that end a match. Once the cutscene has finished, the initial stuttering stops and doesn’t really affect gameplay during a match outside of an occasional jitter. So I don’t see a reason why it struggles during the transition at the end of a match.
The graphics also don’t tax the machine as it uses a cartoon aesthetic that is very pleasing to look at. However, I did notice that would be a slight delay in the responsiveness of the controls. This would only happen for a few seconds and then correct itself, but the effect is disorienting and can cost you when if it happens. This issue seems to be just a lag spike when the online servers are being taxed.
Still, for a majority of my time playing, I didn’t suffer too many connection issues. I am actually surprised at how stable the connection is. It’s a great time when I don’t see players randomly teleporting around the map. It helps that you are in the same lobby until you decide to leave. This allows you to go through multiple matches without needing to actually matchmake every time. Meaning that matchmaking finds the most stable connections to you and keeps you together.
The downside to this is that since you are always matched with the same people. If you are on a bad team, you will stay with that team until you drop out. On the other hand, if everybody drops out, you will be fighting with or against a team of bots which can kill the experience. However, I think the strengths of this style of matchmaking far outweigh the faults.
Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville opens the door for Switch users wanting to get into the competitive shooter genre. Still, everything is fairly standard here, which is best when experienced in short bursts. The hardware limitations creep up every once in a while, but overall this is a worthy port of a charming competitive shooter.
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