Vicarious Visions (VV) and Activision’s Skylanders Swap Force is a thing of beauty running on Sony’s new PlayStation 4 console. Not to take anything away from the current-gen versions, which are stunning upgrades over the prior two games in the franchise in their own right. The PlayStation 4 version, and presumably Xbox One as well, is such a dramatic improvement that it warrants an upgrade or a first-look depending on your current Swap Force ownership status.
I already dug deep into the game for my Skylanders Swap Force Xbox 360 review so I won’t be retreading that content here. What I will touch upon are the aesthetic upgrades and a couple quirks that have popped up solely on the PS4 version.
Skylanders Swap Force for PlayStation 4 is an exact content match for the current-gen versions including the same Starter Pack figures: Ninja Stealth Elf Series 3, Wash Buckler and Blast Zone. There’s nothing new in the way of characters, levels or upgrades, so if next generation gaming isn’t on your agenda don’t worry; there’s nothing to miss story-wise by passing on this version.
What will be missed are absolutely silky smooth 1080p graphics running at a crisp 60-frames-per-second. I was first introduced to Swap Force on PS4 back in September and came away floored after limited exposure. Those impressions translated in full to playing the game in my own home as everything from gameplay to the cut-scenes is sharper, smoother and brighter than the 720p current-gen versions. Now that I’ve put considerable time into the PS4 version of Swap Force there is no going back. Not now, not ever.
In addition to running the game at 1080p, VV has also taken some of the flat textures in the game, most notably various types of ground cover, and given them depth. It’s a subtle change that most won’t pick up on unless it’s pointed out. Once noticed the effect pops off the screen as a nice little touch to further differentiate the next-gen from current-gen versions.
Unsurprisingly there are a couple quirks with the PS4 version of Swap Force given the newness of the console. The main menu hangs for a few seconds after trying to proceed and there seems to be an extra second or so between putting a Skylander on the Portal of Power and having him or her show up in the game.
A more worrisome oddity was a loss of all in-game speech that I experienced twice consecutively, the second time after completely rebooting the PS4. It’s impossible to tell whether this happened because of something on the disc, the PS4, or both, so my score doesn’t reflect the occurrence, which hasn’t happened since.
Kids may not notice the aesthetic upgrade in the PlayStation 4 version of Skylanders Swap Force. At least mine didn’t, not with a small army of Skylander toys to play with. As far as next generation gaming goes, few PS4 launch games show off what’s capable in the years to come as good as Skylanders Swap Force . Early PS4 adopters with an appreciation for the finer details in gaming aesthetics and performance are in for the ultimate visual boom.
– Dan Bradley
Skylanders Swap Force was played on PlayStation 4 for this review and provided by Activision. It was released on November 15, 2013 for PlayStation 4, and will be available for Xbox One on November 22.
Shop for Skylanders Swap Force on PS4 for a discounted price at Amazon.com.