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The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is a third-person shooter for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs with constant cartoon combat. This is the latest chapter in the popular Plants vs. Zombies franchise, which has covered games, apps, toys, and more. The range of attacks is broad -- the plants shoot seeds from gun-like mouths and chomp with giant jawed bulbs, while the zombies shoot lasers and detonate bundles of dynamite -- but the fighting, though fast-paced and frenetic, never involves blood or gore. Defeated enemies simply fall to the ground and disappear. Players' plant and zombie avatars have intense visual style and animations, but betray no thoughts or emotions beyond an eagerness to fight and destroy each other. Players who work together and cooperate as part of a team are bound to experience more success, and local split-screen multiplayer offers an opportunity for kids in the same room to have a positive social gaming experience. Parents should also be aware that a virtual store allows players to spend real-world money within the game.
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What's it about?
You might not be able to tell based on its name, but PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: BATTLE FOR NEIGHBORVILLE is the third entry in the Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare series. It's a third-person shooter starring a big cast of plant and zombie characters locked in a never-ending war. Zombies want to eat the brains of everyone in Neighborville, while the sentient plants are out to stop them. Players begin each session in an online hub area filled with other players, non-player characters, and various activities that allow them to practice their fighting skills and customize and upgrade characters. Then they can choose to jump into a variety of multiplayer events, from familiar garden ops that group players into small teams and task them to defend against waves of attackers with the help of turret towers, to competitive matches that tend to focus on racking up the most enemy kills. Between these matches, players can also take on a variety of solo quests that allow them to explore free-to-roam areas while completing objectives that help to level up and grow their heroes. With time, players will grow familiar with each of the ten zombie and ten plant characters as they work to master each character's special abilities.
Is it any good?
If you're looking to take a break from Fortnite and Splatoon 2, but still want to satisfy your appetite for cartoonish third-person shooting, this game might be the answer. Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville doesn't offer a battle royale mode or any paint sloshing antics, but it's bursting with personality. From its colorful characters -- like the new disco roller skating Electric Slide zombies and the flame-spewing Snapdragon plants -- to its carefully constructed multiplayer maps and free-to-roam environments, which are full of text quips and goofy details sure to cause a giggle or two, there's little doubt that the pun-loving people at Popcap had fun putting this one together -- or that most players will enjoy searching out all of its little secrets and Easter eggs.
What will keep people playing for the long haul, though, is the action, which remains both accessible and habit-forming. Even rookies to the genre shouldn't have too much trouble working out how to play, thanks to tight, intuitive controls and a helpful heads-up display that shows exactly what your current character's abilities are, when they're ready, and how to use them. Plus, the huge roster of characters is surprisingly well balanced despite their vastly differing abilities, from the Night Cap's stealth tactics to the Space Cadet's lasers and flying saucer. There's always an effective counter to an enemy's advantage, it's just a matter of finding it. Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville hasn't altered its predecessors' formula enough to win over many new converts, but it's the most polished and fine-tuned entry in the series, which ought to please franchise fans plenty.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in media. Is the impact of the violence in Plants vs. Zombies: The Battle for Neighborville affected by the cartoonish visuals of the combat without blood or gore? Would the fighting be more intense if there was more realistic violence?
Do you enjoy working with others as part of a team? Do you think teams need leaders, or do they function just as well when everyone decides what to do as a group?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: October 18, 2019
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence
- Last updated: June 30, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.