Skylanders: Swap Force Review
So it seems as if this week we are specialising in children’s games. Today I will be taking a look at the hit franchise, Skylanders, but more specifically Skylanders: Swap Force the latest title in this popular series. While mainly looking at this title, I shall also take a quick look at titles that have been inspired by the Skylanders franchise, specifically Disney Infinity and how the two pair up.
Skylanders definitely is an interesting concept, and back when the first title was released, it was revolutionary. The whole idea is that players use special figurines that contain some sort of complicated technology I don’t claim to understand that, when placed on a USB portal, become a usable character in the game. These figures remember their owner, level, unlocked abilities, experience and money as well as customisation such as hats. The thing is, it would be easy for Activision to not make these characters that different from each other, cheaper as well, but every character has their own unique feel, and will suit each player differently. While an expensive game, if you include all the figures, it definitely does show how much love and care go into each figure, especially the overall design of the figure. It should be noted that you can complete the game (not 100% completion) with just the starter pack, which consists of the game, 2 Swap Force characters, a series 3 character and a portal.
The story in Swap Force continues on from the plot already set up in both Skylanders and its sequel, Skylanders: Giants. You are a portal master, a wizard as such, responsible for rescuing the Skylanders, and returning them to Skylands through the use of a special portal, that conveniently connects to your gaming console via a USB cable. By controlling the Skylanders, you must stop the Evil Lord Kaos, who is hell bent on taking over Skylands. This time around he has harnessed the power of evil crystals, which can turn any creature evil. His plan is to turn one of the guardians of Skylands evil, which will corrupt the entire world. It is the portal master’s job to stop both him, and his evil mother. The story doesn’t have the best plot around, but it certainly is fun, and will keep both children and adults entertained. I am not ashamed to admit that, at age 25, I really enjoyed the story in Swap Force, and preferred it to the previous 2 titles.
Gameplay wise, Swap Force plays like the old Spyro games on PS1. They are third person, with small closed levels that, while having many secret areas, remain incredibly linear. Don’t forget though, these games are aimed at younger children, and like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro of our generation, children love this type of game. The biggest improvement to gameplay in Swap Force is that the characters can now jump. Now the fact that they couldn’t jump in the previous two games might make people think that they sound quite primitive, but when playing the first games, I never even really realised that I couldn’t jump. That being said, the fact we can now jump makes the game much more enjoyable, and opens up a lot of new puzzles that weren’t available before.
Another gameplay element which has been added replaces the old lock puzzles that we have seen in the past games. Previously, some locked doors could only be completed by guiding a fluffy ball/creature over weight sensitive triggers by rotating the platform. To be honest, this puzzle got old the second time I played it. Thankfully this is now gone, and replaced with a new puzzle, where the player must guide two jelly blob/creatures together to form a new lightning bolt character. It is much more fun, and less monotonous.
Now if I was a parent buying a game for my child, what I would want to know is how Swap Force compares to Disney Infinity. Personally, I would pick Swap Force every time. Yes, the characters in Infinity are more well known, and the figures seem to be made in a more lovingly and created way, but the Skylander characters are unique, new to children to do as they wish, and to play anyway they want to. I also find the charm and variation in the characters better. When playing Infinity, I felt that some characters were exactly the same just with a new skin, such as Mr. Incredible and Syndrome. As I mentioned above, each Skylander figurine feels completely different to the next, they don’t feel like re-used characters with new skins. I also feel that both children and adults will get more from the story in Skylanders: Swap Force. The characters are charming, the story is fun and hilarious. I definitely prefer Skylanders: Swap Force to Disney Infinity.
Overall, while Skylanders: Swap Force won’t win any awards for game of the year, and can’t compete with the likes of triple A titles such as Bioshock Infinite or Call of Duty: Ghosts, it does absolutely everything it sets out to. It is charming, it is unique, it’s loveable, and it has high replayability value and best of all it has no game breaking glitches that will take children away from the experience. It is for this reason, I give the game such a high score. Everything you expect Swap Force to do, it does. Easily my favourite title in the series.
Oh and if you want to buy some extra characters, I highly recommend Rattle Shake and Free Ranger.