So you've taken the plunge and purchased Swap Force and your son/daughter/inner child is now demanding you purchase some new characters to swap around on that Portal of Power. Single characters packs are a pretty straightforward deal, but for those looking for a bit more variety in their gameplay the battle packs may be just the thing you're looking for. We've had the opportunity to play with both the Fiery Forge Battle Pack and the Tower of Time Adventure Pack, both of whom include their own characters and content to enjoy.
Although each pack comes with bonus characters the content between them is amazingly different, and unless you're looking to collect every single character (in which case you'll probably buy both anyway) Skylanders fans may find the Tower of Time to be an overall more enjoyable experience.
The Tower of Time Adventure Pack gives players the Skylander Pop Thorn, the Tower and two magic items. Pop Thorn is a magic-based Skylander who uses pin missile ranged attacks to either harass multiple enemies or blast them with jets of air. Both magic items provide bonuses when placed on the portal, although only a single magic item can be used at a time. The hammer gives all players a bonus attack in the form of a massive swinging hammer which slams the ground dealing bonus AoE damage, while the gemstone generates bonus gold for every enemy killed. After they expire players can remove them from the portal and call upon them again after they've recharged (which takes quite a few minutes).
The Tower itself will cause gears to rain down on enemies when placed on the portal, and when placed for the first time will add the Tower of Time as a separate adventure that players can go on in addition to the main story. As the story goes Skylanders have arrived just in time to stop the evil half-robot steampunk chicken Cluck from using the time warping powers of the clock tower for his own purposes. To do so Skylanders must utilize the flow of time, freezing enemies and puzzles in order to overcome obstacles that normal grit wouldn't be able to handle. Some puzzles even become slightly more difficult to manage in co-op, due to players needing to stand within a certain distance from one another, which if intentional can be a frustrating element to the experience.
On the other end of the spectrum the Fiery Forge provides players with additional characters and the magic forge, which also unlocks a battle arena for multiplayer combat. Bumble Blast and Terrafin both play quite differently from one another, which is fitting as one is a treant with a bee-zooka (bazooka that shoots bees) and the other is more or less a land shark. Both are lots of fun to use, although Bumble Blast's swarm of bees is almost a little too good compared to Terrafin's burrowing or melee strikes.
While the Tower provides an entirely new side story the Fiery Forge unlocks a new battle arena for players to slug it out against one another or a series of enemies. Much like it's description the arena consists of grating that bursts with molten lava, platforms that fall away and portals that teleport players about the arena. In the core campaign the forge will follow around player one, pouring down lava on enemies until the magic buff expires.
Unless you're in dire need of new Skylanders the Adventure Pack is likely the best value for what it has to offer, as the combination of magic items and the story contributed by the tower add a few hours of additional gameplay. Swapping magic items around is a lot of fun as well, so simply having more of them to swap deepens the games core interaction overall. The Battle Pack still offers a bit of fun in the form of the arena, but as Swap Force's overall entertainment comes in the form of exploring the world rather than single missions having more world to explore edges out having new characters to play with overall.