Skylanders: Swap Force Review: Skylanders Swap Force is the best entry in the franchise yet with superb voice acting and great gameplay that everyone can enjoy.
Skylanders Swap Force is the third entry in the very popular Skylanders franchise. The hook for this year’s version is the “swapability” of the new Skylanders figures. This allows you to swap out the top and bottom of certain Skylanders characters to create an all new character. You can start out with the default character of Wash Buckler (Water elemental character)or mix and match with Blast Zone (fire elemental character) to create Wash Zone (½ water, ½ fire character), as an example. If you happen to have all 16 Skylanders characters (the starter pack comes with 3) then there is a total 256 different variations that you can play around with. There are gates in the game that will require special combinations as well such as combining the earth power with the undead power or water and the air power. It definitely helps to keep things fresh and is something that I think Skylanders fans will really enjoy.
With this being the third entry in the franchise I went into the game knowing what to expect and I wasn’t disappointed. The game still has the humor, over the top characters and playful nature of its predecessors. Kaos is back as the main villain and I have to say he is one of my favorite villains in recent years. He is completely over the top, exaggerates his speech in a way that will make you laugh and watching him try and enact his various plots to take over Skylands is highly entertaining. The voice acting throughout the game is superb and the writing is still really great whether you come across old friends or new allies.
If you have Skylanders figures from the first two games you can bring them over to Swap Force and use them. There are items in Swap Force where you actually need one of the Giants from the previous game to smash open a treasure chest or eliminate an obstacle. I should point out that the Skylanders Swap Force starter pack comes with three characters. You can go through the game and experience the fully story with just those three characters, however, if you want to experience everything in the game you will either need to go buy more characters or use characters from previous entries. As long as you have one character for each elemental power you should be good to go. It should go without saying that the “swapability” aspect only works with the Swap Force characters. The top and bottom of the Swap Force figures are held together by magnets so it is really easy to swap around your characters and see what combination you can come up with.
The story for Skylanders Swap Force is similar to the previous entries. Kaos is trying to take over Skylands and he will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. The Skylanders must prevent this from happening or evil will spread across the land. Skylanders Swap Force takes place in the Cloudbreak Islands. Every 100 years a mystical volcano erupts and replenishes the magic throughout Skylands. This is performed by the four Ancient Elementals and it is these Ancient Elementals that are now in trouble. Kaos wants to kidnap them and “evilize” them so that evil can spread across the land and Kaos would control everything. The game opens up with a new friend looking for help from the Skylanders to help out her village which is being attacked and it all goes on from there.
Skylanders Swap Force is also the first entry in the series where the Skylanders can jump. In previous iterations they weren’t able to do so, so this new mechanic does add in some more variety in the gameplay and allows for more types of puzzles and various things of that nature. It might also pose a bit more of a challenge if you have a younger gamer that is playing, however, if he misses a jump, the Skylander will simply respawn right there and they can try again. You can’t really die here so there isn’t going to be that level of frustration for younger gamers.
The hub world in Skylanders Swap Force is Woodburrow. This is where you will get quests, level up your Skylander and generally just screw around. As you progress through the game more things will open up to you such as the ability to do some fishing, buy items at a shop, practice your skills in an arena mode and more. This is also where you will find your allies that you can talk to as well as equip legendary treasures as you level up. There are also time attack levels for you to do as well as bonus missions that will become available as you find bonus maps.
In addition to the main campaign there are also arena modes for you to play in. There are five different modes for you to choose from with Solo Survival, Team Survival, Rival Survival, Battle Arena and Ring Out. In Solo Survival you have to survive waves of enemies and higher difficulties will result in high scores. Team Survival is the same thing with a friend. Rival Survival is you trying to rank more points than your opponent as you fight enemies. In Battle Arena you try to defeat your opponent with your attacks and by triggering hazards in the arena. Finally with Ring Out, you need to knock your opponent out of the arena with well-timed power hits.
Skylanders Swap Force is a fantastic entry in the Skylanders franchise. My one complaint is the same every year and that is the lack of online play. I understand the concept of them wanting people to play locally with the Skylanders characters so you can easily swap out characters and things of that nature but the game would be even better if I could play with or against a friend that lives across the country as well. Other than that Skylanders Swap Force is a really well done game. All three games have been really well made with a great sense of humor and great writing. Fans of the series should definitely be happy with Swap Force and newcomers that give this game a chance will become fans as well. It will be interesting to see where the Skylanders series goes next and as long as the games keep being a lot of fun to go through then I am more than happy to go along for the ride every year.