Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review: Skylanders - SWAP Force (PS3)

As a series, Skylanders has garnered a cult-like following over the past couple of years and has sold millions of copies worldwide and presumably multimillions in additional toy sales.

Skylanders can be best described as a toy-game crossover that at first glance seems like it's primarily aimed at children, However, if you dig a little deeper, you'll quickly learn that Skylanders offers something cool to players of all ages.

The core game has always been about switching between different characters on the fly, with each one featuring their own abilities and powers. The game comes with a number of action figures and a swapping portal. If you wish to switch a character, simply remove them from the platform and place your new character and the game instantly switches characters. Swap Force comes in a variety of bundles and the action figures themselves can be purchased separately from the game so you can build your library of characters however you wish. With dozens of characters available in the series, the cost of entry can get expensive if you want to get the most out of the game.

SWAP Force takes the character swapping to a whole new and interesting level. Each character now features interchangeable top and bottom parts that can be combined with other characters, which leaves a lot of room for experimentation. The swapping is not merely a novelty but rather a great welcome addition to the gameplay. The review copy I received featured six swapabble characters with eight non-swapabble characters. Most of my time was spent using the swappable characters.  It's fun to mix and match the different characters and find the best combination. The characters feature some great detail and the swapping platform worked flawless during my time with the game.

As you play through the campaign, the game will actually suggest characters to use on a particular level. Not only that, but swap zones, which are side missions within a level can only be unlocked by certain types of characters.

The swap zones range from jumping on floating balloons to having you climb up a vertical wall while avoiding falling debris. The only downside to the Swap Zones is if you don't own the Skylander required to unlock a particular zone, you're out of luck. In a way, the game almost guides you to use a variety of characters. This allows for great experimentation as the play styles of each character's top and bottom can be drastically different. Each character also features their own progression system so you can upgrade your characters health, armour and fighting skills.

SWAP Force is set in the Cloud Break Islands where a magical island volcano erupts once every hundred years and sends magic all around the islands. The volcano is about the erupt and the game's villain, Chaos, is trying to make it the volcano with his new device called the evilizer, which will turn the whole mountain evil. If he succeeds, the volcano will spread darkness amongst the Skylands. A similar threat had occurred previously, but the Skylanders were able thwart the attack. However, at the same time they were captured in the magic of the volcano which  gave them the magic ability to swap. The story of skylanders is one that features witty and well timed humor. All the voice acting is fantastic and will surely give people of all ages something to laugh about. The visuals are also top notch and the environments are vibrant and colourful. Even the swappable characters with different tops and bottoms look great.

The combat system feels fairly straightforward, but what makes the game feel fresh is the variety of enemies, side missions and collectibles within each level. My first playthrough of the game's campaign took approximately ten hours. Even after one play through, there were still plenty of Swap Zones and collectibles I needed to go back for. In addition to that, the game also features several types of multiplayer modes, so there is a ton of content to explore even after you're done the story.

SWAP Force is a terrific game that offers so many new things to keep the series fresh. A great and humorous story, colourful environments, deep campaign and swappable characters make this a great game you shouldn't miss.

- Siddharth Masand

The Good:
- Swapping is a great addition to the game.
- Campaign is extremely deep with plenty to explore
- Fun for all ages
- Presentation is top notch

The Bad:
- Cost of entry can be expensive
- Some swap zones won't work if you don't have the right character

Score: 8.0 / 10