Skylanders: Swap Force PS3 review – Toy-related collectathon returns with a new trick
Trying to explain to your other half why a 27 year-old man is sat in a dark room surrounded by kids toys might sound a tad weird, but there’s something unhealthily moreish about the sugar coated world of Skylanders: Swap Force. It’s a bit like the way FIFA’s Ultimate Team taps into that childish (read: OCD) glee to fill your latest Premiership sticker album with endless boosters. A few toys and a couple of collectables later and I’m ten years old again and living life to the max.
Swap Force is the third instalment in Activision’s other big cash cow and while it doesn’t break too far from the classic formula, it does give the series a much needed burst of life. For those of you who don’t have children/an inner-child locked in a middle-aged body, Skylanders is a colourful platformer-cum-dungeon crawler that uses a series of toys to represent in-game characters – think Diablo III minus all the soul reaping and auction houses. Plug in your Portal Of Power peripheral, place your Skylander of choice on top and your character pops into life on screen. Each toy has its XP progress and gold saved direct to the model for easy levelling, too.
Unlike the Giants characters from the previous game, the new Swap Force characters finally feel more than larger versions of the regular models. Each one separates in the middle, allowing you to mix and match the 16 Swap Forcers for up to 256 different in-game combinations.
Vicarious Visions has done a grand job of combining the vibrant and safe realms of Spyro & co with some genuinely fresh ideas. The multiple dungeons, zones and areas have all been tightened up to give each level a much punchier feel, and finally including the ability to jump gives the whole experience a much-needed lift. The new dev has even gone as far as adding jump animations for every single character, past and present, which is no mean feat considering the big roster.
There are brand new skill paths to upgrade as you collect loot, and the various attribute-boosting hats return for the digital fashionistas among you. Each of the new Swap Force characters comes with an extra ability linked to their base, so whether it’s rocketing through a series of aerial rings or climbing a waterfall of honey, you’re getting more than just looks for your cash.
Fun, colourful & more than a match for
Disney Infinity, Skylanders finally
embraces its platforming roots
Justifying the existence of another game that’s more famous for the toys that accompany it was always going to be a challenge, but Vicarious Visions has managed to create something that finally makes good on the potential of the first two. Even if you just own the Starter Pack models there’s still hours of fun to be had levelling up in the returning Arena modes. And being able to use all of your old Skylanders means that long-time players can dust off their collection and dive right in. Fun, colourful and more than a match for Disney Infinity, Skylanders finally embraces its platforming roots. Spyro of old would be welling up with pride.