Thursday, 26 December 2013

Review: Skylanders Swap Force (PS4)

It was last August that I had first played Skylanders. I was at the Call of Duty Multiplayer Reveal Event and on the last day of the event I received an invite to see the Playstation 4 version in action. The portal, the multiple characters and the colour, brought out of the little kid inside me. How had I not heard of Skylanders sooner?

I asked all of my coworkers if they had ever heard of Skylanders and most of them mentioned their kids were crazy about them. As with a lot of launch titles on PlayStation 4, Skylanders is multi-platform and I had the privilege of reviewing the PS3 version. Other than the prettier visuals, Skylanders on the PS4 is not a drastic departure from the PS3 version of the game.

The big appeal of Skylanders has always been the portal and numerous character types. Simply removing a character from the portal and replacing it with another gives you a feeling you rarely see in a lot of other titles.  The review copy of the game I received, had seven Skylanders, two or three of which were swappable. The swappable characters have interchangeable tops and bottoms that can be combined with other characters to create unique combinations. The character tops control how you fight, while the bottoms control how you move.

Throughout the game's worlds are upgrade stations that let you upgrade your characters abilities and skills. Each character can be upgraded differently as you most often chose one of two upgrade paths. The swappable characters are terrific and a lot of your time will be spent trying to find the perfect combination of combat and movement.

Naturally, the more characters you own, the more you get out of Swap Force. 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 provide a great distraction from the game's story and offer a wide range of mini games. The only catch is you will need to invest some money to play Skylanders to the fullest.

The campaign takes place in the Cloud Break Islands where a 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 use the volcano to spread darkness around the islands. As you probably guessed it, it's up to the Skylanders to save the day. The game's story is told through a series of cut scenes that relies heavily on humour. The humour is mostly cute and the voice acting is top notch. You'll recognize some familiar voices, most notably Peter Warburton from Seinfeld and Rules of Engagement. The visuals are a step up on the PS4. The colours seem more rich and the environments feature more details. The game runs beautifully at 60 fps and is actually one of the better looking games on the PS4.

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. Not only that but the upgrade system for each of the characters is extremely fun to toy around with. 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 finished with the story.

Skylanders: Swap Force is easily one of the stand-out launch titles for the PS4. Even if you haven't played the previous games like me, you'll be amazed at what SWAP Force has to offer.s fresh. A great and humorous story, colourful environments, deep campaign and swappable characters make this a great game you shouldn't miss.

- Sidd Masand

The Good:
- Swapping is awesome
- Great colourful environments
- One of the better PlayStation 4 launch titles
- Character levelling up is great

The Bad:
- Need to constantly buy more Skylanders to keep the experience fresh
- Depending on the swap zone you might not be able to play it if you don't have the right characters

Score: 8.0 / 10