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Skylanders Swap Force Review

Skylanders Swap Force Review

The Skylanders franchise is almost like a trap, designed to snag children at every possible angle. Brightly colored, high quality toys? Check. Platform video game mechanics that require said toys to feature as interactable characters? Check. Multiple incentives to collect as many figures as possible? Check. It ticks all the boxes and when coupled with some imaginative character, a wonderful world and some pretty all-star voice acting, it becomes clear as to why the Skylanders franchise has become so popular with both kids and adults.

Skylanders: Swap Force continues this tradition by implementing new mechanics and some fairly ambitious world design. It’s all meant to take the well-established IP into the next console generation. The good news for anyone who happens to be a collector of the previous toys is that all models are getting a fancy new update to take advantage of Swap Force’s brand new features. The bad news means, well, you’re going to have to buy more toys.

Right from the start, Swap Force wastes no time in getting players into the action. It explains the history of the Swap Force and their unusual power to trade upper/lower body halves with one another before quickly tossing players into a high speed battle in the skies through the center of a volcano on a flying ship. The story dives into some pretty straightforward stuff for a family platforming game; an ancient evil is trying to destroy peace and harmony, heroes must band together to stop them while exploring a wide variety of remarkable worlds.

It’s all a lot of pomp and story fluff designed to make players feel as though they’re part of an overall movie-like experience, and to some extent it works. The sets are big, the score is dramatic, and being an action game there’s certainly a lot of action. In many ways it would be much better to say that Swap Force is like an interactive Saturday morning cartoon, one where every character has a decent sense of humor and fairly iconic set of abilities.

Swap Force is a game based on collecting a wide variety of characters, and for those who have stuck with the franchise from the very beginning the good news is that every single Skylander you’ve collected up until this point is entirely compatible with this latest entry. The game is also filled with content to incorporate a large collection from the very beginning, with challenges and items only reachable by Skylanders of a particular element or type (such as giants).

Each character gets a range of attacks depending on their element, with the Swap Force characters having their attacks broken into upper and lower portions. For example the Skylander Blast Zone’s upper body throws bombs while his lower body triggers an explosion that jettisons him forward into enemies. Swapping either of those parts will cause the associated attacks to move, which adds quite a bit of customization to the Swap Force character line. Additionally upgrading a specific portion will keep all upgrades on that portion, so should you ever decide to swap parts around (and you probably will) it’s easy to keep track of where the upgrades have gone to.

Other in-game upgrades include the return of hats and treasures, which provide buffs to damage, experience earned, critical strike and HP. Those playing on a Wii-U game pad get the added bonus of being able to see all of the characters’ stats, how they’ve been adjusted, and if there are any other elemental zone boosts to further increase damage. They’re very basic RPG elements that allow for a bit of extra character customization as well.

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