Skylanders Swap Force

Posted On: 10/24/2013  Publisher: Activision

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Activision landed on a gold mine when they took a chance on Skylanders Spyroís Adventure a few years back hoping that the game would grab the attention of kids everywhere. Well, not only did it grab the kids but it also grabbed casual gamers and toy collectors as well. Here we are a few years later, 2 titles in the books and well over 100 figures are available and now the latest title, Swap Force is available. Iíll say it right now. I absolutely love this franchise and what itís all about. Can it get expensive? Absolutely, but the fun never ends so for me and I have to say the franchise is worth every penny I spend. Please continue to read the review, but I have to say it right now. Skylander Swap Force is a family friendly experience both inside and outside the box and you need to do yourself a favor and own this title and get to collecting Skylanders.

The Swap Force is the new style of Sklyander that allows you to swap the top halves and bottom halves of figures and interchange them with each other. The top and bottom is held together by a durable and strong magnet that works very well. Itís strong enough to make the toy durable and not flimsy yet weak enough to allow a young 6 or 7 year old to separate the pieces. When you put them back together the pieces snap back into place and the toy is whole once again.

The purpose behind the new Swap Force is to allow the Skylanders to combine abilities. So for instance if you have a Fire Element Swap Force and a Water Swap Force you can swap out the top and the bottom of each to create brand new Skylanders with the Fire and Water elements. This allows you access to special areas that require 2 elements to enter. There are 16 total Swap Force characters which gives you a total of 256 total combinations. Yes, that means you have access to 256 different Skylanders just by owning the 16 Swap Force characters. Awesome! And each of the 16 Swap Force characters have a special ability that allow you to participate in certain mini games designated for that ability. This ability is shown on the base of the Swap Force characters.

 
 

Along with the Swap Force characters you will also have the single characters that you have grown accustomed to in the previous games. There are plenty of new characters plus some old favorites making their return yet again. The figurines will run you from around $10-20 in singles, but you can find some deals as well as buy them in adventure packs or 3 packs to save some money. You can also use every Skylander toy you have owned previously in the new game. In Skylanders Giants the level cap was set at 15 for a character and now it has been bumped up to 20 as the max level. So think about this, you can play the game with hundreds of different characters. Your friends can play alongside you as well in drop in and drop out co-op.

Okay, so enough about the characters. Letís talk about the gameplay. Kaos is back and wreaking havoc on Skylands once again. Youíll find yourself in the Cloudbreak Islands this time around with an all new supporting cast of characters. The levels are designed wonderfully and they are vast with plenty of stuff to do. Youíll have to own Skylanders from each element and Swap Force characters with each ability in order to complete a level to 100%. The game is fully playable with just one Skylander if thatís all you have but youíll be missing out on so much.

As with the last games, in each level there are certain areas that can only be accessed by a Skylander of a specific element. For instance, if there is a water drop symbol on the game youíll have to use a water Skylander to get through the gate. Some gates now have two symbols on them so youíll either have to own enter using a Swap Force character combined with both elements or enter the gate in co-op mode using 2 different Skylanders each having being from one of the elements required. So technically, if you have a vast collection of Skylanders from the previous games youíll be able to complete the Split Element gates without actually owning all the Swap Force characters.

There are also specific mini game areas that are designed specifically for Swap Force characters with a certain ability. Youíll have to own the specific Swap Force character to get into all of these areas as normal Skylanders do not have abilities. Look at the base of the Swap Force character and match it with the symbol on the screen to enter. For instance, if you see a ladder on the screen then you will have to use a Swap Force character with climbing abilities such as Wash Buckler.

 
 

Finally, there are also Giant chests that will require the use of a Skylander Giants to open. Any Giant will do in these cases and you donít have to match any specific symbols. Just pull the right trigger and tap X to open the chest using a Giant.

Every level has a ton of items and tasks for you to find and accomplish. Youíll be collecting Soul Gems, Hats, Treasure Chests and more as you scurry around the level. Be sure to keep an eye out for hidden items or hidden caves entrances as some of your items will be located in these areas. At times youíll want to use the stationary binoculars youíll see to pinpoint the location of a collectible item as well.

Visuals and sounds in the game and the figures are fantastic. The levels are bright and colorful and the characters on the screen are full of life and enjoyable. The creativity that goes into this game is second to none and I have to say that this is the best looking Skylanders game yet. I canít wait to see it on the Xbox One. I especially loved how each level was themed. The figurines even seem so much more in color and full of character even when just sitting on the shelf. This game is so alive which makes it fun for everyone. The voiceover work is great and the wide cast of characters really lend to the storyline. Kids and adults will be sucked into the game.

Swap Force takes the gameplay of the previous titles and refines it completely. The game is a great platformer and the level designs are a perfect combination of skill and hack and slash. There are a ton of new enemies to hinder your way as well as a few large bosses. The story line is fantastic and funny and will keep children as well as adults giggling. I love the humor that is there that makes even adults chuckle and that makes this a game not just for the young crowd. There is even a musical interlude with one of the bosses that I found fantastic.

Once you complete the story mode you are about 50% through the entire game to completion. There are bonus, score and time missions to complete. Each of these missions earns you stars towards your overall rank as a Portal Master. Yes, you not only rank up the Skylanders but youíll also be ranking up as a Portal Master for completing levels to 100% and completing the bonus missions. All of the missions, tasks and story chapters are worth anywhere from 1 to 3 stars. Itíll take you 6 stars to ran up each time.

 
 

The one thing I really love about Swap Force is the statistics that are kept and being able to compare with your friends. Youíll be able to see how well they scored on levels compared to you, check out their collection of collectibles, scores on the extra missions and even have a look at their Sklyander Collection. Every Skylander you use is recorded in the game and added into your collection and shown for the world to see. Youíll be able to see which characters your friends have and which ones they donít. I absolutely love this feature and it allows for bragging rights too. The one thing the game does not have yet is an online multiplayer co-op system. You can play locally with a friend and even play in team battles, but you wonít be able to pair up with anyone online. I hope this is coming in the next installment of the franchise. I would even pay for a multiplayer expansion pack as DLC if it was possible.

Technically the game is sound. I only had one instance where the game froze on me during a cinematic, but that was no big deal as it had already saved my progress. I think the fact that I had been playing it for seven hours straight probably didnít help matters. The characters work exactly as they should when placed on the portal. So I guess my only real problem with the game is that it really hurts my wallet! Thatís not a complaint though because I love shopping for Skylanders I donít have or trying to find those rare ones.

Should you buy Skylanders? Absolutely! Skylanders Swap Force has evolved an already outstanding franchise into something even better. Sure the game can get expensive if you want to complete it to 100%, but remember you can play through the game with your previous Skylanders even with the Split Elemental Gates. The Swap Force characters are fantastic and youíll definitely have a favorite as you do with the single characters. The possibilities seem almost endless with this franchise and I hope to see it carried on for years to come. Vicarious Visions, Toys For Bob and Activision should be proud of the product that they have put forth. It shows that you do not have to be a AAA first person shooter to be considered one of the best games on the market. Skylanders is worth every penny you invest into it.

 
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