The Skylanders Get A Next Generation Upgrade

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We reviewed Skylanders: Swap Force on the
Xbox 360 platform before the next generation consoles were even released. Now we circle back around to look at the game on the PlayStation 4.

Fundamentally, the game is identical on the PS4 to that found on the 360 or PS3. Unlike the version found on the Nintendo 3DS, which is a totally different game, the next generation console versions are simply supped up from their original console roots. Specifically, all of the characters have been given new animations, so they seem more "alive" than before. Also, many special effects have been added.

The difference is pretty breathtaking. Look at the screenshots attached to this article. Be sure you hover your mouse over them to look at the larger view. All of the characters have a sort of sheen over them that makes them look almost real. While there was nothing wrong with the PS3 or 360 version of the game, everything just looks so much more amazing on the next generation consoles. The animations are also a lot smoother, a tribute to both the processing power of the new machines and also the extra animation data which has been added.

The rest of this review is simply playing through the game, just like we did with the version on the older consoles. If you have a choice, pick it up for a next generation system, but if not, it should play just fine with the older hardware.

Skylanders: SWAP Force is the third installment in the popular Skylanders series of games from Activision. This time around there are a new style of character with interchangeable tops and bottoms. These are the SWAP Force. Responsible for protecting the volcano that replenishes Skyland’s magic for hundreds of years, the SWAP Force were part of an epic battle that caught them in an eruption and blasted them apart. Now, the player as portal master can mix and match them for access to various realms throughout the game to stop Lord Kaos from his usual evil, if somewhat incompetent, plans.

SWAP Force is a well constructed, charming and very fun action adventure game. The controls are responsive, the storyline is interesting, the characters are cute and funny, the voice acting is flawless, and the music is perfect. I used to be the educational reviewer for GiN, so I’ve played more children’s games than I’d care to think about, but I was super excited to get this game, because I enjoyed the last two so much. And it delivered!

How many times have you played a series of games where they were all good and kept getting better? This is just such a series. I played it on the PS4 and couldn’t be happier with it, well except for one part. This game can be seriously pricey if you’re a hardcore collector and trophy hunter. Why? Because in order to collect everything and get all the trophies, you have to have access to all the areas and in order to do that, you have to have one of each type of character and one of each type of SWAP Force character so you can do all the mixing and matching you need to do to access every little thing.

The SWAP Force technology does also require a new portal, but you can still use your old characters with it. Just as with previous Skylanders games, you don’t have to have all the characters to play the game. Technically, you could play the whole storyline with the original game pack. You won’t be able to access every area and collect every single item and every single trophy, but not all players do that anyway. As it is, if you’re not the kind of gamer who squeezes every single playable moment out of game, you’re good. If you’re like me, and love to see that 100 percent finished, then this game is potentially a very expensive proposition with characters ranging from around ten to around fifteen dollars.

If you’re a more casual gamer and or getting this for a kid that isn’t likely to obsess about finishing, you don’t need all that. This isn’t a quick game though. There is a lot of game play here even if you don’t do all the mini-games and access all the areas. Arena mode is infinitely replayable, so I’ve given the game three GiN gems for value despite the expense of extra characters.

The other great thing about this game is all the Arena Modes. You can battle alone in Solo Survival, you can battle cooperatively in Team Survival or against each other in Rival Survival, or you can battle your opponent directly in Battle Arena or Ring Out. What’s so great about that? It’s the way the characters and portals work. Build up your characters stats and they’re saved in a RFID chip inside the character. Toss your characters in a bag and take them to your friend’s house and play on his portal against his characters, and the best part, it doesn’t matter if his console is different than yours, your characters can play on his portal. How cool is that? Yeah, that’s right, very cool.

From the parent perspective, both the characters and the portals are of sturdy construction, although I do wish the portal were cordless. It’s a bit of a trip hazard in the living room. If your kid’s share one set of characters, expect the occasional argument over who gets which character. However, if you’re looking to build a little bonding between the kids, have them play Team Survival, you’d be surprised by the benefits of fighting off a common enemy.

In short, Activision does it again. If you’re looking for a great game for kids or the young at heart, Skylanders: SWAP Force is a winner.

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