Let’s go back to Divertilandia, now two years after our first time, in the Switch version of the Electronic Arts game: let’s get ready for battle!
We took up our juice-loaded cannons again. We packed the corn assault rifles, and hit the battlefield of Divertilandia, Switch in hand, two years after our first arrival in Neighborville. Finally, on March 19, the Nintendo version of Plants vs Zombies: the Battle of Neighborville has arrived, which has also brought one of the spin off best of the franchise PopCap Games.
Upon its release for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in the now distant October 2019, our review of Plants vs Zombies: the Battle of Neighborville had brought to light all the great strengths (and small defects) that characterized a publication, certainly fun and impactful, but in need of growth. EA – which has been holding the rights to the series for some time now – has satisfactorily supported the game over the years, trying to overcome some of its problems as much as possible.
This has allowed the birth of a passionate community, which has embraced and pampered the Spiritual sequel to Garden Warfare 2, allowing PopCap to invest in his creature. The arrival on Switch (which is in fact the first attempt to use EA’s proprietary graphics engine Frostbite on the console) is therefore the culmination of a multi-year project, which certainly had a positive response. But what do we think of the hybrid version of the The Battle of Neighborville? Is it a valid transposition? Above all, the decision of try to give new life to a work that seemed to have already concluded its cycle? Let’s find out together.
Divertilandia awaits us again
The Battle of Neighborville, from the point of view of the general aspect, has kept its soul even within the Nintendo system. There city-hub Divertilandia is undoubtedly one of the highest points reached by the development team, which has treasured past experiences, and has left nothing to chance. By exploring the square and all the secondary streets (which act as a real interactive menu), we can choose whether to venture into the many activities that are part of the game campaign, or whether to enter a multiplayer game – online or offline – between classics deathmatch team-based, and cooperative challenges. The “story” mode (which can be tackled in single or co-op up to four players) consists of several missions, to be completed wearing the clothes of plants or zombies. The activities are very varied, and differ according to the faction you choose; in one of the stands present at Divertilandia, we are given the opportunity to change sides, or to put it in game terms, to “enlist” for one of the two armies, whenever we want.
The difficulty increase curve blends perfectly with a well balanced progression system, making the hours spent fighting against enemies in the evocative scenarios – which vary in atmosphere and type of tasks to be carried out – much more than a simple tutorial aimed at avoiding us getting to team clashes without adequate preparation. The effort made by the software house Canadian to give a complete experience even to lovers of non-competitive adventures is remarkable, and leads to convincing gameplay moments, which, without making us cry out to a miracle, entertain and push the desire to explore the game world more and more.
It’s time for battle!
Although the campaign surprised us positively, it is undeniable that such a product was designed especially to be enjoyed in its multiplayer component. From the point of view of the types of matches, on Switch there is no substantial change: in Supremazia Erbosa – matches in PvP 8 vs 8 – the goal is to conquer or defend, in turn, some strategic points in an expanding map. Garden and Tomb Operations, on the other hand, involves collaborating with other players to defeat various waves of enemies, increasingly numerous and complex to deal with. Each week, in addition, different events are published that immerse us in other hilarious battles, with crazy rules. Finally, through private sessions, thehost has the power to select one of the different modes, to try with his guests. Thanks to a considerable variety of characters available (twenty plus three which are unlockable in-game), and an articulated branch of skills, when compared to other exponents of the genre, anyone is able to find their favorite combinations. There are three mega-classes (attack, defense and support), each with multiple members within it: we go from the classics tank useful for quickly annihilating opponents, snipers and healer, more technical, and not easy to command at first.
Unfortunately, we didn’t notice any improvements in clunky, and sometimes confusing, movement and aiming mechanics, defects already present in the past, and which have also remained on the Switch. Often some sections are particularly frustrating, due to the difficulty of movement, with not smooth movements, and a not too precise response of the commands. A AI not completely reliable, frequently, it places us in front of some enemies unbalanced between them for fighting ability and danger, but in any case in a not too disabling way.
Finally, the great variety of arsenals and types of ammunition available to the classes, makes the game very unpredictable, but at the same time not very “competitive”, above all due to evident differences between a series of decidedly powerful characters, and others that instead they have no particular skills, or equipment useful to resolve the game in their favor. In conclusion, the fun is not lacking in getting lost in long sessions of The Battle for Neighborville, but users eager to test themselves in competitive challenges, may not find everything to meet their teeth.
Take the war wherever you want
Up until now, we have only focused on everything we already knew about the last chapter of Plants vs Zombies, combined with how much the experience of two years has strengthened its solid foundations. But how does it run on the Switch? Can it be defined as a totally different experience? Let’s start by saying that there are some interesting additions, but they only work in part.
Surely, the most positive thing is the portability that the Nintendo console allows, which greatly increases the potential of a type of product, which makes entertainment its most important weapon. We therefore believe that adding the opportunity to play when and where you want, represent a reason for interest for a shooter so smugly cheerful and over the top, that it lends itself well to “on the fly” use.
Of all the other additions enjoyed by the Switch version, what we can observe is that, at least at the moment, their implementation is not always completely successful.
We were very curious to try the aiming and shifting of vision, using the motion sensors of the Joy-Con: however, theThe problem of a poor reactivity of the commands has not been solved even for the controllers of the console of the Kyoto house, especially in mode docked. Even adjusting the sensitivity settings, the impression is that the inaccurate targeting development flaw, somehow hidden in the Battle for Neighborville version for other frenzied match systems, is now more evident than ever on the Nintendo Switch. The shots do not hit as they should, and the reaction to our gestures (adjustable from the settings), remains, depending on the settings, either too slow, or excessively sudden. The result is that we are forced to work meticulously, parameter by parameter, to find a solution that is at least satisfactory. Fortunately, remove the target option via sensors, returns to the player the imperfect, but more manageable, system of classic gameplay.
In addition, and contrary to EA’s statements on the framerate of The Battle for Neighborville on Nintendo Switch, we are sorry to admit that the 30 FPS that had been heralded are not always so granite; this is particularly evident in the more lively gameplay sections and, above all, during the cutscenes. On the resolution, however, we would like to give a small applause to PopCap, which was helped by the Polish team QLOC to bring The Battle of Neighborville into the Nintendo family.
However, the first experiment in using the Frostbite Engine on Switch had a fairly positive outcome: sure, even in TV mode, the maximum resolution is 900p, yet the graphic rendering is still pleasant. Even in this case, however, the best results are achieved in portability, with the small screen of the console that allows you to make the most of the whole.
At the end of our review, let’s try to answer the question we asked ourselves at the beginning of the article: did EA’s decision make sense? Does this chapter of Plants vs Zombies have its own identity? The Battle of Neighborville, not too far from Splatoon (although it can still have a more competitive cut), it is a tasty pastime, if approached with the right spirit, and a good company of friends.
Regardless, however, from the colorful atmosphere and cartoon style, in line with the tones of the big N, the specific problem is primarily of timing. It is impossible, in fact, not to wonder how much interest a similar publication can generate, especially if it came out so far from the original debut.
Of course, also thanks to a non-prohibitive cost (€ 39.99), the opportunity to have in your hands an even more streamlined edition devoted to free fun of Plants vs. Zombies, it is not entirely to be overlooked. Obviously, the success of The Battle for Neighborville will be decreed by those who decide to enter Divertilandia for the first time, perhaps driven by the undeniable appeal of Switch. We’ll soon know if the Nintendo servers will be filled with carnivorous plants and hungry zombies – we, in any case, have prepared ourselves for war.
Plants vs. Zombies: The Battle for NeighborvilleNintendo Switch Analyzed VersionThe Nintendo Switch version of Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, maintains his light-hearted soul, made up of harmless action, delusional weapons and absurd characters. It is a title that, even after years, is reconfirmed as enjoyable and fun. In any case, it is a pity to note how, even in this edition, which arrives long after its original release, some of the defects found elsewhere remain. Burrs to which are added the low-impact features expressly dedicated to the hybrid system of the Grande N, which do not really prove capable of giving new life – it really needs to be said! – to a video game that, in 2021, sounds perhaps a bit impromptu.