Skylanders: Swap Force Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Skylanders: Swap Force Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Swapping Good Time

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.

Skylanders: Swap Force Screenshot

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.

Skylanders: Swap Force Screenshot

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.

Speaking of melee combat, there’s a much stronger presences of this in the game. For example, in previous installments, the boss fights are more shooter based; this time around, however, the fights are an adrenaline-fueled charge. While many peers have stated they don’t really care for the change, I, for one, feel this is a better choice all around. Yes, having the multi-layered-genre feel is rather impressive, and having it be a more direct approach, which even the least experienced gamer can understand, adds a stronger sense of congruent flow to the experience.

Skylanders: Swap Force Screenshot

Of course, how great this game looks will also please fans of the series. You can tell the level of commitment put into this title. Sure, you can dismiss it and claim it is only a kid’s game, but looking much closer enables even the hardest cynic to see how the bright world of Skylanders contains some impressive visuals. It is something that my boys instantly latched onto when they first loaded up the game. I personally like how colorful all the worlds look; even the darker areas of the game look impressive and bright.

One thing I have to moderately complain and praise about at the same time is the soundtrack. While I still like having voice actors return to their roles, they occasionally come across as caricatures of themselves or, at the very least, appear as if they are “phoning in” the experience. This, of course, could just be the older gamer in me, as I am almost certain a younger audience will find no issue. However, the parents, or older siblings in the background, will at times find the voices and music bothersome. However, for the age group Skylanders traditionally targets, the music works.

Skylanders: Swap Force is not revolutionary. It does, however, capture the magic of the first two installments and refines them to retain the experience while advancing the series to better plains. To me, this is an accomplishment many developers overlook. Too often, we have sequels that try to bring the game to the next level, and they falter in one area or another. Skylanders: Swap Force doesn’t stumble, and it also retains the collectable-figure gaming crown. Even though there has been some strong competition, Skylanders is a wonderful example of pursuing substance over the flash of a few extra characters. At least I can continue supporting at least one franchise, knowing that it focuses on a progression of substance.

Solid advancements to the series have been made. 4.3 Control
Holy cow! You can jump! 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Solid return performances. 4.4 Play Value
A great game, with more options than what we have had before. 4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Embark on an exciting, new adventure with the Skylanders and the Swap Force. For generations, the Swap Force protected the volcano that replenishes Skylands’ magic. That is until an epic battle caught them in an eruption that blasted them apart, sent them to Earth, and gave them the ability swap powers. Only you can mix and match their tops and bottoms, put them on the new Portal of Power, and help save Skylands.
  • Starter Pack includes: 1-Video Game, 1-Portal of Power, 3-Skylanders Figures, 1-Character Collector Poster, 3-Sticker Sheets with Secret Codes, and 3-Trading Cards.
  • Limited-edition figurines from older generations to be packaged in special bundle sets.

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