Skylanders Swap Force is the third game in Activision’s extremely successful toy/game series. Back in 2011 we were first introduced to the Skylander characters, then in 2012 the Giants arrived and now we have the Swap Force – characters who can swap their top and bottoms with one another. Each figure easily pulls apart and snaps back in to place with a magnet – mixing up your character’s tops and bottoms is as easy as placing a new character on the Portal of Power..

There's plenty of different enemy types to get stuck in to

There’s plenty of different enemy types to get stuck in to

In Skylanders Swap Force, Kaos is back and he’s discovered petrified darkness in Cloudbreak Islands, which is the location for the latest game. Together with his new laser machine he plans to spread evil throughout Skylands and it’s up to you to stop him while helping the various Skyland folk you come across during your adventure. Will it be third time lucky for Kaos? It’s doubtful, but it’ll be a great journey to stop him especially if you’re playing along with your son or daughter.

As you’d expect, the characters are well made and you can use the whole of your Skylanders collection to play Swap Force by using the brand new Portal of Power, which isn’t as clunky as the previous portals but still wired. The eight Skylander elemental powers return, each with five standard characters including new versions of several fan favourites and two brand new Swap Force characters making for a total of 40 standard characters and 16 Swap Force characters who combine to create a whopping 256 possible combinations – let the collecting frenzy commence (again).

Vicarious Visions (VV) have taken the reigns of the series and added a much-needed new spin to the gameplay. Enemies are more varied and demand that you change-up your attack patterns in order to exploit weaknesses or avoid their barrage of attacks. There’s four difficulty levels to battle through with the hardest ‘Nightmare’ difficulty unlocked once you’ve beaten the game.

One of the biggest changes that VV have brought to the series is finally including the ability to jump. Previously Skylanders were routed to the ground, only able to reach high vantage points via bounce pads, now thankfully that’s changed and it’s made a whole world of difference to the gameplay. Combat now has an added dynamic and while you can’t attack while jumping, you can now use jump to evade enemy attacks. Navigation wise there are now several platforming sections including several 2D scrolling sections. For the most part the platforming is well implemented although younger gamers may find some of the jumps a tad difficult to master when judging depth.

Swapping up your figures is very easy - the Magna Charge base was certainly  my favourite

Swapping up your figures is very easy – the Magna Charge base was certainly my favourite

Even better, the same abilities have also been granted to your previous Skylanders collection, each character has been given the jump ability and brings with them all the abilities you’ve previously unlocked, gold collected and the current hat they are wearing. That’s support for a whopping 113 Skylander figures and item packs, there’s even special blocks strewn throughout the game that only Giants can open.

The new Swap Force figures are really well crafted, size wise they are bigger than the standard characters but not as big and bulky as the Giants. In game each character has had a graphical overhaul, rendered with a bright cartoon feel to them rather than the somewhat inky feel from Giants. The environments look particularly great and are more crisp, bright and vibrant. The level layout makes great use of the graphics by twisting and hiding paths into them, if it wasn’t for the familiar overtones of the Skylanders series you’d think this was an entirely different game!

Fan favourite Captain Flynn makes a triumphant return, voiced by the excellent Patrick Warburton, I’m sure his one-liners have gotten funnier. In fact the whole voice cast is pretty impressive. Elemental gates have returned although once unlocked you can play thorough their hidden areas with any Skylander, a new type of Elemental gate has been included that makes use of the Swap Force – you must create a Skylander that matches both elements marked on the gate for it to unlock! Lock puzzles have also been changed into spark locks, which play out in a similar way to the XBLA game ilomilo. You have to guide two characters through a maze in order to reunite them, it’s thoroughly enjoyable yet never too hard.

New figures will certainly be high up on my Christmas list!

New figures will certainly be high up on my Christmas list!

Character upgrades return but for the Swap Force you can upgrade skills for the top and the bottom half. The top of each character retains the gold collected in each level but you may spend that gold on either the top or any of the bottoms currently attached. Each leg base also has an associated power in addition to their elemental power. This power unlocks Swap Force challenges which are located throughout each level. These are great fun and add another element to the addictive gameplay. The first challenge you’ll come across is a rocket race through checkpoints and around various explosive hazards.

There’s plenty of additional content and challenges to chase too and by completing missions and finding hidden areas you are awarded stars – these go towards your portal master rank which in turn unlocks new items, maps and Swap Zone challenges which can be accessed via the level select in the pause menu.

My son has been taking an interest in the Xbox for a while and Skylanders is the perfect game to share with him. It’s charming, friendly and fun for both parent and child. The fact the game has real toys as well should make Skylanders high up on any Christmas toy list, more characters will certainly be on mine! The big kid in me loves Skylanders reminding me of my days gone by when I collected various figures – anyone remember Mini Boglins? The adult in me loves the concept of the game – fun, cheerful and using chip technology in the figures to create characters that you’ve developed.

There's plenty to love about Swap Force - it's certainly the best entry in the series

There’s plenty to love about Swap Force – it’s certainly the best entry in the series

I’ve found little to dislike about Swap Force, in fact it’s quite the opposite – I’ve found plenty to love about it! Levels are well laid out, varied and interesting, there’s plenty of content to get through and the new characters are well animated and great fun to mix and match. It’s certainly the best game in the series and the only thing missing is a decent online mode.

At it’s core the gameplay remains vastly the same but with the addition of jumping, new swappable characters and the new challenge modes, VV have breathed new life into Skylanders that takes Swap Force to the top of the series. I only have one question, where will the Skylanders series go next?

Review: Skylanders Swap Force
The good
  • You can now jump
  • Swap Zone challenges and new shock puzzle locks
  • Upgraded visuals and character animations
The bad
  • No online gameplay
  • The very young may struggle with some of the jumps
95%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Rich has reviewed over 50 games for the site covering everything from the top titles to the not so top titles *cough Ride to Hell. Rich is passionate about gaming and loves to tell everyone what he thinks about the platform and the games he's played.