Skylanders SWAP Force Preview: Switching it up
- Posted September 22nd, 2013 at 00:28 EDT by Ernest Lin
In addition to the campaign, SWAP Force features cooperative and competitive Survival modes alongside PvP Battle Arena and Ring Out modes. I only had a chance to try out the Survival mode, where my Skylander had to fend off waves of enemies. With so many enemies coming at you at once, Survival had me on my toes as I had to be conscience of how I approached combat and encouraged me to pull off fighting combos to knock out enemies as quickly as possible.
When talking with Vicarious Visions’ animators, I was told that a big goal in the presentation of SWAP Force was to make it look and feel like a CG animated movie. From the pieces I saw and played, I would say they’ve accomplished that goal. Dynamic, moving environments and a wide color palette make the game feel as alive as the world of a Dreamworks Animation production. Each character is brimming with personality in their voices and movement. Sound and music are also used to enrich the experience. Key background noises like noisy cicadas or ribbiting frogs are randomly placed each time a mission is started, so few playthrough’s audio are exactly the same. The musical score changes depending on what the player is doing on-screen, as well. When you move your Skylander, for example, a layer of percussion may be layered over the melody to give the sense of momentum. Stop moving and it will go away. Enter combat and an intense electric guitar melody will roll over the existing background music. The end result is a smooth, consistently interesting auditory experience.
SWAP Force will be the first entry in the Skylanders series to be released on next-generation consoles. During the preview event, Vicarious Visions showed off the PlayStation 4 version to show that SWAP Force was indeed running on next-gen hardware. The difference in visual fidelity between the next-gen and current-gen versions isn't a massive leap by any means, but it's still noticeable. The next-gen versions run in full high-definition 1080P and include additional visual effects. One such effect is parallax occlusion mapping, which creates an increased appearance of depth when looking at textured surfaces like the ground.
Skylanders SWAP Force switches up enough of the series’ winning formula while still maintaining wonder and accessibility for players young and old, new and experienced. The swap mechanic is interesting to experiment with, and there's more variety than ever before. No doubt about it--Vicarious Visions has crafted another hit in the genre it pioneered.----
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