Friday, 18 October 2013

Skylanders: Swap Force - Final Round Review

The biggest questions people will ask about Swap Force are: is this the standard Activision occurrence where they release the same game with minor variations, and have they gone out on a limb and finally changed something?

Strangely Skylanders: Swap Force fits into both of these; it is very much the same game as Spyro’s Adventure and Giants but the all-round feel is just better, smoother and brighter.  My time with Swap Force has been very up and down, and not only because of the new jump ability.

There are vibrant, detailed colours that come through in every element of the game, from the clothing on NPC’s to the thousands of coins, gems and treasures you pick up.  What they have accomplished with the incredibly bright, popping colours has put an emphasis on the far off backgrounds and your playable Skylander.  This has somehow made both the background and your Skylander pop, and due to this overdrive in the playable areas it gives you a sensation of everything bursting with colour.

Skylanders: Swap Force’s gameplay is quite delightful.  The buttons are straight forward and there’s nothing too complicated going on; it’s perfect for children.  Even some the older audience will enjoy it as it is a light, enjoyable game that can’t be smashed through in one sitting.  This is because of Swap Force’s difficulty system; while it doesn’t make the game crushingly hard, it still offers a decent challenge. 

There is a pretty basic, yet solid, upgrade system for unlocking new abilities and button combinations.  If there wasn’t this game would consist of nothing but a series of mashing the same two buttons over and over.  Another great feature is the challenges that are scattered throughout the game.  They are fun and varied, albeit awkwardly controlled at times, which can be frustrating at first but the controls don’t take long to get used to.

Skylanders: Swap Force does come with its flaws.  The ability to jump at will is a fantastic improvement, but it feels like there should be a double jump.  It’s almost as if they don’t trust us with this awesome power, and are forcing us to take baby-steps.  It would have also been nice to start will all the “basic” attacks, rather than needing to unlock them; you can purchase your third base attack when you get to the first town, but it would have been nice to start out with it. 

Finally, and this is a huge No-No in my books, is the fact that there are certain areas as early in the game as the first area that you simply cannot go into unless you have a Skylander of that type.  The fact that the “Starter Pack” does not come with everything you need to play even the starter-zone is really a massive slap in the face, especially when considering the price a Skylander figurine. 

As far as the actual “Swapping” in Swap Force goes, it feels a little pointless.  It is a cool idea and gimmick to make the game that little bit more dynamic, especially since you can “swap ‘n’ change” your Skylander on the fly.  However it doesn’t add all that much to the game, and it would have been just as good without it.

Although expensive, and kind of mean, Activision has done some fantastic marketing and put it with a pretty good game, making Skylanders: Swap Force a very fun game that can be deemed worthy of the hefty investment, especially for the younger audience.

Final Round Rating  -  8/10

 - Frank van der Merwe

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