It’s getting close to Christmas now and kids across the world have started writing their wish lists to Santa Claus of what they’d like for Christmas. As they do parents will be spying on their children to see what it is they’re after, panic buying presents having left it all to the last minute, to make sure they have got all the child’s desired gifts put under the tree for the little ones to open on Christmas day. Well for any parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles or big brothers and sisters out there reading this, I have a little secret that will make your Christmas that little less stressful, and that secret is that I know one present sure to be on the young ones Christmas lists; the new Skylanders Swap Force starter pack. That’s right Activision are back with another addition to the Skylanders series which includes a whole new story line, all new swappable Skylanders characters and even more fun filled action than before.
Now I know a few people out there who have bought the previous games will be putting their heads in their hands thinking “that’s more money I’ve got to go out and spend now to get all the figures” and to an extent they’d be right. There are exclusive parts of the game where only members of the Swap Force will be able to get to, either by using their special abilities or by swapping powers to combine two elements to access new areas. The good news is that the new Swap Force adventure allows for the use of previous Skylander characters from Spyro’s Adventure and the Skylanders Giants games, which means you won’t have to go out and spend as much money as you first thought.
Before I start to go into too much detail about the game though, let me tell you what you get with the starter pack. Well it comes with the new Skylanders Swap Force game and portal for you to place your figures on, a lovely wall chart with all the Skylanders characters on it, and three characters each with their own trading card and sticker sheets with secret codes. Now one of the characters you may be familiar with is Ninja Stealth Elf, however with the starter pack you’ll be introduced to two whole new swappable characters in Blast Zone and Wash Buckler. What makes these different to any other characters though is that they have the ability to swap powers by taking the top of one character and putting it on the bottom of another. In this case you will be able to create either Blast Buckler or Wash Zone, but as you collect new characters it will unlock more combinations which you can keep track of during the game.
Now all the formalities are out the way it’s time to move onto the game. The story begins by introducing the origins of the Swap Force; it all took place when the ancient guardians of the Skylands came together to perform a special ritual which helps to keep the magic of the Skylands alive. However when there is good, evil is not far behind and trouble soon occurred; the Skylanders raced to the rescue and although the ritual was complete the Skylanders were unfortunately drawn into a magical volcano, which resulted in them gaining the ability to swap powers and being cast to earth, hence the name Swap Force. Following this, your mission to protect Skylands begins because as usual evil decides to rise again in the form of Kaos, an evil mastermind with an even more evil plan and it’s your job to foil it. I won’t go on further as I’ll only ruin the whole story for everyone but know the story line is great to follow, the only thing that lets it down is the Swap Force aren’t entirely integral to the plot.
The benefits of the Swap Force though do come out in other aspects of the game. The main regions you’ll notice the importance of them is when it comes to unlocking elemental gates that require you to be two different elements at the same time in order to access new areas. The other area you’ll notice the Swap Force’s importance in the game is when it comes to skill challenges because each member of the Swap Force has a special skill; for Wash Buckler’s bottom half it’s the ability to use your tentacles to climb and for Blast Zone’s bottom it’s the ability to use thrust yourself through the sky using rockets. There are many other skills that come with other Skylanders and if you want to complete all these areas of the game you will have to go out and collect additional characters.
The other benefit of the swappable characters is that when it comes to levelling up and upgrading your abilities there are two paths per Swap Force character unlike the normal Skylanders and Giants’ characters. You have one path for your upper half and one path for your lower half allowing you to customise your characters more than ever before. So with the 265 possible combinations between the 16 swappable characters, it makes upgrading more important as you try utilising the upgrades y complimenting the Skylanders abilities with each other through all the mishmashes that you can make.
Other than those few points, the main feature of the Skylanders Swap Force game is pretty much like those that have come before it. It’s got a good solid storyline and is a really good platform game for young children to play with RPG elements that are enough to attract and keep the interest of an older market. The only difference is that now you have the ability to jump in game which may not seem like a lot, but it allows the game to build levels giving you more places to explore in each area, and also allowing for new hidden areas which contain collectible items.
But the main feature isn’t the only part of the game for people to enjoy; there are also many arena modes to go through as well. You can choose to go solo and refine your skills beating off waves of enemies, team up with friends to take on the waves together or challenge friends to a contest to see who can get the higher scores. If that doesn’t take your fancy you can also join the Battle Arena and fight against friends in environments filled with traps a bit like the old show Robot Wars, think of it as an arena where you challenge those who stand before you fighting to claim the spot of number one.
If you’re wondering what the game is like graphics wise, the feel of it seems to be a lot smoother in terms of the design and movement in the game, there are nice little details like when pushing blocks around, leaving scratch marks on the floor. The design of characters is great as well, it’s like the guys designing them were just told to go wild and create what was in their wildest imaginations. That’s the one good thing about the fact there are lots of characters because each one is individual and unique. Though I did have one glitch where my character for some reason came on to the screen sideways and was being pushed toward the edge of the screen. I tried swapping characters but to no avail so I just had to turn the console off and restart from my previous save point.
So overall, if you’re looking for a great present to keep the kids happy this Christmas, or if you miss old style platform games like Spyro then it’s definitely worth purchasing the game. Everything about the game is brilliant, from the game design to the plot of the main storyline. The only downside is that to complete the game in its entirety you will have to fish out more cash for additional characters; however the main story line can be completed without splashing out the cash so it’s not all bad.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.