|System: Xbox 360, PS3*, Wii U|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions|
|Release: October 13, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence|
by Matt Walker
I admit it; I am a Skylanders addict. It is a game that plays to my collector’s instinct and abuses my wallet every year. However, there is a certain level of magic in Skylanders that every adult should be able to appreciate. Sure, the game is designed with kids in mind, but the fact that it takes very strong cues from RPGs and causes players to utilize strategy is something even weathered gamers need to appreciate.
For those three people in the world that don’t know about Skylanders, it is a game in which you use figurines, which you buy separately, to play through the video game. These figures are known as Skylanders, mythical creatures who have special abilities that they use to protect their world. Using a special Portal of Power that comes with every starter pack, players take the small action figures and put them on the Portal to transport their favorite figures into the game. Yeah I know, it sounds like a complete cash grab, especially when you factor in that with the new Swap Force game you are looking at 150 figures. Even though there are that many, there are a lot of them that are simple variations of established characters from the first series. Again, it sounds like a complete cash grab.
If you allow yourself to be bit by the collector bug that hides in all of us, then you will be spending enough money to probably buy a new system, or at least a really good steak, like stupid good.
Skylanders: Swap Force changes the game in several new ways, quite literally. First off, we are looking at 56 new figures. These figures include several new characters, returning characters, Light Core characters, and then, of course, the Swap Force characters. These new Swap Force figures give players the ability to combine two different characters to make a brand new one. This allows you to mix and match different abilities. By doing this, you are able to get different strategic elements not present in previous entries.
While it may not be completely new, it definitely is a fresh and much needed approach to the franchise. If for no other reason than the series’ progression of interactivity, this game is a solid addition to the Skylanders brand. These new advancements, while impressive, are not so impressive that they forget the game’s younger audience.
In addition to the stronger strategic elements, players will find a lot of familiar ground–both good and bad. For instance, there is still an issue with co-op gameplay. The playfield is still hindered by the locked camera zooming out only to a certain distance, and, at times, making it difficult to discern the action onscreen. While this is an annoyance for sure, it doesn’t come off as much of a shock as it probably should. However, to balance out this issue in co-op, there are some advancements that I, as a parent of boys who play games together, am truly grateful for.
For instance, now players will each receive the money they pick up, and the health pickups will replenish both players. No more will my boys get into near fisticuffs because one of them was being a jerk by taking the health pickup when his brother desperately needed it. In addition to the money and health, players also receive matched experience points. Something this small seems insignificant at first, but it really aids in helping lesser-skilled players eventually match the skills of their co-op partners. While it does nothing for their own personal capabilities, it is a nice addition, at least, to help even the playing field. Moreover, with the melee-combat gameplay, every little bit can help.