Swap Force is really a game made for co-op play, especially since the game and levels are designed around a lot of the duality of elements thanks to the swap characters. With two players it's easier to have the bonuses from this without necessarily having the physical Swap Force characters required. Of course swapping pieces between a few characters you can traverse a level with four elemental powers, meaning you'll be getting up off the couch less to swap in a new Skylander.
There are a lot of little touches I liked in co-op too - shared gold and experience, a subtle "tether" to show where your partner is and which direction they are headed. I never felt cramped by the fixed camera either, and while my co-op partner and I couldn't go off on our own, the screen area it kept us in was ample in size. I really think the fixed camera makes a huge difference for younger gamers; my four year old daughter had some trouble grasping the character movement in Disney Infinity which employs a free camera, but she had no problems in Swap Force.
Skylanders Swap Force is just as flexible as the previous games too, you can simply take characters on and off the portal to drop in and out of co-op games at a whim. Player 1 or Player 2 can take full control at anytime and all the collectibles and progress gets either saved to the character or the save slot the game was played in.
I found the story entertaining, and the fully voiced cut scenes featured plenty of humor from Patrick Wharburton (Flynn) to keep fans of his work happy while kids chuckling. You'll be on a quest to stop Chaos from "Evilizing" the creatures of Skylanders by saving four giant elemental creatures who want to jump in a volcano. The boss battles that revolve around them utilize some light puzzle solving and plenty of platforming keeping things challenging for adults while easy enough for kids to figure out.
If there's a "downside" to Skylanders Swap Force it's that you've got 16 new figures to collect at $14 a pop...which comes out to over $200. Luckily I never felt as though I was missing out on anything in the game by not having a certain figure and in fact, the sheer amount of content and things to collect in the game and unlock is staggering. After 10 hours of play I was only 20% complete with unlocking everything. On top of the campaign there are arenas and bonus missions you can unlock which reward you in yet further unlocks. The carrot and stick are strong with Swap Force.
Overall this is the best Skylanders game to date and on top of that, it's simply a fun game to play. There's an inherent addictive element to so many aspects of Skylanders Swap Force that it's almost criminal. I'm not even sure what happened, but after only a few hours of playing a box from Amazon showed up a day later filled with half a dozen new figures. At least the investment in the figures aren't stuck with one game, and if the future games improve like Swap Force has, I'll be continuing my addiction - even if it's just the jump to next-gen.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with a friend in local co-op or survival mode for the third installment of the Skylanders series.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.