on 27 February 2014
In my opinion Giants was a colossal failure, practically insulting me with the lack of content it offered and thinking I was perfectly happy with it. That has changed and developer Toys for Bob know how miserable an excuse of a second instalment it was. Enter Swap Force, the third game in the oddly enjoyable series that's cherished by both children and adults alike. Much like before, players will use physical figures known as the Skylanders to conquer virtual threats in the game, and the main gimmick is that select figures (read: sixteen models) can be swapped to make different combinations. Swash Buckler and Blast Zone can swap their upper and lower bodies to become Swash Zone and Blast Buckler, using both fire and water abilities, as well as other hidden features exclusive to that single character! You can't get much closer to the word teamwork than this, by literally bringing two people closer to blast through each level!
The gameplay itself has few new additions, but each give some excitement if you're willing to pace yourself throughout the game. If your aim is to clear it as fast as possible, don't waste your money or your time. Skylanders is a fast paced beat 'em up game with roleplaying elements like character upgrades, levelling up, character customisation and hidden zones within the area only certain characters can complete. Combat is the main aspect of the game, where each Skylander has different strengths and weaknesses, as well as fighting preferences be they melee or ranged. As much as I'd like to praise this for its simplicity, too many Skylanders do the same things and if you own all the figures just to find the perfect character you're going to struggle. The first instalment of the series, Spyro's Adventure, went with quality over quantity, having enough Skylanders to deal with all the tasks present in the game and more. Here the roster feels bloated, and it's a shame that older ones don't make an appearance here.
What Swap Force does new besides the gimmick is extra things to do in levels such as more 'elemental gates' (which require a Skylander of a specific element. There's currently Fire, Tech, Magic, Air, Water, Earth and Nature), as well as challenges for specific Swap Force characters. For example you might need a Swap Force Skylander with the climb ability, found on the base of their model, or one with the rocket boost ability. Then there's also alternate challenges outside of the levels for those looking for a bit more difficulty in small increments. This unfortunately isn't enough to justify the £65 price tag, though the first level of the game makes sure you get the right first impressions.
As for the models themselves, I have to say they've done well this time. I felt the Giants gimmick of the previous game wasn't enough to extend the life span of the game nor entice me to buy the others. In this game however you've plenty to do and as someone who doesn't like collecting these, I'm impressed that I now want to unlock all the Swap Force possibilities!
The Swap Force characters are, much like the normal and Giant ones, highly durable and disconnecting the two halves is easy thanks to magnets. What's better is that swapped characters load on the portal of power only nanoseconds slower than ordinary Skylanders, allowing you to test your new combination without having to wait an age!
As with all my reviews I'm going to cover the visuals and soundtrack before I give my final thoughts. I'm playing this on the PS4 and despite owning three games before purchasing this (BF4, CoD: Ghosts and Need for Speed: Rivals), none of them said "This is next generation" like Skylanders: Swap Force. It actually feels like the first platform game that shows the PS4 is not just about shooters, and I really hope this game expands and shows other platform game developers how to do things with a Triple A budget. You don't need to be an Indie developer to make decent platform games, y'know. The visuals are indeed outstanding with glossy looks on each of the characters, spectacular particle effects and some of the finest cinematic cutscenes I've seen in a game. Much like the first game of this series, Swap Force gives amazing first impressions on the PS4 and the game itself right away! Finally the soundtrack and voices are memorable and clear, something that many platform games have been missing since the PS1 (with the exception of the latest Rayman games, Origins and Legends).
My final thoughts on Skylanders Swap Force are this: It's a Greasy Gamer Must Buy, especially if you preferred Spyro's Adventure over Giants. The first level alone gives you an idea of the sheer enormity of the future levels as well as the potential Swap Force characters have. If you're concerned about the life span the game runs for about 12-16 hours, but there's lots of replay value to be found which gives you only more reason to buy more Swap Force figures.
8/10 - Great platform game that gets its gimmicks right, but still doesn't realise its fullest potential for the price tag. Recommended.
on 5 January 2014
If you are buying this for yourself, rather than a child, then you don't need to buy lots of Skylanders. *grins* You can if you wish, but they are only really needed to 'unlock' particular areas.
If you want to do most of it on the bare minimum, and have two PS4 controllers, or one PS4 controller and a PS Vita (as I have) then just get 1 Giant figure and buy a few extra figures you like to cover the 4 elements you will still need. When you get to a 'dual gate', log in the other controller and add the missing element to open the gate, then log it out again.
If you want to complete all of the 'challenge' areas in Swap Force you will need 8 Swap Force figures (one of each element) at a total cost of around £75+ for the 6 you don't have yet - not great VFM in my opinion.
Now - the gameplay: Great fun. It plays a bit like a Diablo/Torchlight clone and you can smash everything as you run around to get more upgrade/shop money. Being able to switch characters at literally any time is great fun and there's a huge selection to choose from in the figure set, so I'm sure everyone will find some that become their favourites.
I originally bought it to play with my granddaughter, then discovered it's great fun solo too. Swap Force is much better than Giants and the graphics are greatly improved for the PS4.
on 11 December 2013
Finally caved and brought Swap Force for my PS4, here's my mini review on all things Skylands:
Gameplay: The gameplay of skylanders has remained largely unchanged in its previous two major outings and remains the same this time around bar the addition of 'jump', while not game changing this new feature was a missing piece of the skylanders cake and the mechanics of the gameplay feel complete now that jump is included, it has opened up new ways of designing levels and puzzles and the game has only profited from its introduction.
If you are any older than the target demographic for this game then crank the difficulty up to hard from the get go, any lower than that will feel like a walk in the park and take away from this brilliant platformer's experience.
Graphics: Now this is more like it, Swap Force on the PS4 is hands down the best and crispest looking game I own on my system, and yes that's comparing it to BF4 and even Killzone, the colours pop and the characters and environments looks amazing, Skylands has never looked better. Running at native 1080p makes a massive difference to gameplay as you can see further in front of you without things fading out or being to pixelated to make out, playing this on PS4 is simply the best and definitive way to play it.
Overall: Skylanders Swap Force on PS4 is the best skylanders game to date, it's fun, entertaining, witty and on 'Nightmare' difficulty it's downright hard, the storyline might be the same wishy washy chapters we've seen from the last games but the gameplay and graphics make you forget all about that and just fall in love with playing the game, and after all, isn't that what games are there for?
If you are a Skylanders fan or interested in trying out the franchise, there's no better time to jump in.
Skylanders: Swap Force - 9/10
on 5 August 2014
now, that is something for the kids. but beware, they could become obsessed. no joke - as an old gamer all i can say is, that it a quality build game for many, many playing hours. the kids love it and they seem to be able to play endless combos of parties. one of mine best buys for kid's playstation.