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Skylanders: Swap Force

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, WiiU, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release Date: Oct. 13, 2013 (US), Oct. 18, 2013 (EU)

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PS3 Review - 'Skylanders: Swap Force' Fiery Forge Battle Pack

by Brian Dumlao on Nov. 21, 2013 @ 4:00 a.m. PST

Skylanders SWAP Force combines collectible real-world toys with an epic virtual game world, featuring 16 new SWAP Force characters, along with 32 core Skylanders characters and eight new LightCore characters.

As extensive as the Skylanders titles were in level and character count, Activision has ensured new content was always available for purchase to extend the game experience. For Spyro's Adventure, that came in the form of adventure packs, and for Giants, it was the battle packs. Instead of introducing something new for Skylanders: Swap Force, the publisher decided to offer both adventure packs and battle packs. We recently received the Fiery Forge Battle Pack.

The Fiery Forge Battle Pack contains three figures, although only two are playable. The first figure is the Fiery Forge, and it is more of an object than a character. When you place it on the Portal of Power for the first time, you unlock the battle arena level of the same name. Subsequent placements on the Portal of Power allow you to use the Forge as an automatic weapon that pours molten metal on enemies you aren't targeting. The weapon is useful, but the timer on it drains quickly, and since it can only be used once per stage, strategic use is vital to getting the most from it, especially since it covers a wide area.

As a battle arena, the Fiery Forge is well designed. The area is nicely sized for two combatants, and the metal ledges border three pits. The pits are shallow but are often filled with molten metal from the cauldrons above. Adding to the mayhem are sleep darts, which can be picked up and thrown at your opponent to knock them out for a few seconds. The level comes in both regular and borderless varieties, where you can knock out the opponent to score a victory. The only complaint is one you'd find with the battle mode in general, and that's the fact that it is limited to two players. Though small in size, each level feels like it could hold four players, and the battle mechanics are really suited to players fighting off multiple opponents. While it has been that way for a while, there's hope that a future franchise entry could increase the player count in this section, even if the main adventure remains a two-player affair (at most).

The other two figures in the pack are characters, one of whom is a returning member of the cast. That character is Terrafin, whose series three variant is named Knockout Terrafin. Like other series variants, his appearance in the game is the same as in his debut, with the costume change activating after you unlock his final ability. In this case, Terrafin takes a page from Sonic Boom in that he dives into the ground and has multiple baby sharks helping out when he emerges. He's more of a melee character with the earth element since he dishes out punches for his primary attack and performs a shoulder charge for his secondary attack.

He's a great character to have in the roster, but he's already available as a separate character that's available for purchase. Part of the reason these packs are so appealing is that they give players the chance to buy a character unique to the set. With this character being made available elsewhere, the value of the pack is diminished since it loses some of the exclusivity.

The final figure in the pack is Bumble Blast. Something of a living tree with a beehive for a jaw and honey for his tongue, he's a projectile character whose primary attack is a bee-launching gun while his secondary attack involves spitting honey to slow down enemies. He's interesting in that he's a capable fighter that's also useful as a support character since he can immobilize enemies so others can take shots at them. Once he levels up, he can also use both moves in tandem.

While Bumble Blast is another fun character to play, especially when his moves are upgraded, his appeal could be diminished by his element. None of the elements in the game are weak, and they merely designate advantages in particular areas and open up certain gates for bonuses. However, he is a life element, the same as the Ninja Stealth Elf packed into every Skylanders: Swap Force starter kit. For those trying to be frugal about buying figures, the inclusion of another life figure means that no new areas can be unlocked with his purchase. As a result, he's more disposable, and customers who are trying to make efficient purchases will see him as unnecessary. A character of a different element should've been chosen to complement Knockout Terrafin.

The Fiery Forge Battle Pack really caters to a limited audience. For the Skylanders fan who really enjoys the competitive multiplayer mode, more levels are never a bad thing, and the layout of the level is good. Completionist who wants every figure in the series will be interested, and the fact that the Fiery Forge figure has Lightcore properties is a nice touch. For everyone else, the pack is fine, but it could've been better if they'd thrown in a character of a different element and a character that wasn't already available for separate purchase. In short, you can get away with leaving this on the shelf for now.

Score: 6.5/10

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