Review: Skylanders: Trap Team (Xbox One)
The ever popular Skylanders are back. In the fourth installment of the series, Trap Team, attempts to deliver a new twist to the formula while staying true to what made the figurine-based platformer so well received in the first place. The most prolific change this time around is the Trap Portal itself. For those who are new to the franchise, the Trap Portal is the accessory bundled with the game itself along with two interactive Skylander figures and, this time around, two Traps. The Trap Portal plugs into your console of choice and brings the physical figure to life on your screen. This isn’t anything new to fans of the series, however the portal does bring some significant changes to the party.
First off the new Trap Portal has a new component which takes the series in a completely different direction by using the Trap accessories. Rather than focusing on bringing figures to life, the attention has now shifted to capturing enemies and battling with them. Once beating a newly introduced character you are able to use one of the various elemental Trap accessories to catch the defeated foe. Once the enemy has been captured you are able to use it in your adventure by swapping between your Skylander of choice and the converted bad guy. As with the Skylanders the Traps requires that you match the elements in order for them to be captured. If you don’t have the required Trap you are simply rewarded with in-game currency that is used to upgrade your Skylanders. The highlight of this new gimmick is without a doubt the built-in Portal speaker which is used to mimic the enemy you’ve just captured. Randomly during the game the trapped enemy will comment on your actions in some of the most charming ways imaginable. Keep an eye (or ear) out for Broccoli Guy, one of the funniest, and idiotic villains out there.
The same unlockable areas are available to specific Skylanders but like the capture mechanism these areas now use the Trap figures rather than just a specific elemental hero. Once you trapped a specific enemy you will come across someone in need of the villains expertise and only that character will be able to access the unlockable area. These sections can appear before or after the moment you trapped the villains allowing for some well implemented replay-ability. In addition to the unlockable areas there are numerous mini games to tackle, some you need to complete in order to progress while others are accessed via the main hub. The most notable of which is the Skystones Smash is a card game.
The gameplay itself is as simplistic as it was in previous titles, which is by no means a bad thing taking into consideration the games target audience. This been said, play Trap Team on the most challenging difficulty and you are in for a stern challenge despite the basic platforming mechanics. The main issue here is the navigation and fixed camera angles. Sure the fixed camera acts as a guide for less experienced players which is understandable but without, even an option to use the right analog stick some sections can be frustrating.
What would the Skylanders franchise be without the returning voice cast? It is no wonder that children all around the world are completely captivated by this interactive world. Trap Team delivers some of the most underrated voice acting in any modern game. Everyone from the loveable yet self-centered Flynn to the maniacal Kaos return in the Trap Team adventure. There is a particular focus on Kaos this time around with one of the new elements revolving around him… The Kaos Element.
There is absolutely no doubt that Activision know how to prolong a franchise and Trap Team is a perfect example of this. Thankfully this time around there are some great new twists to the formula but this does come at a price. While previous Skylanders are compatible with the game you will need to fork out quite a bit of money on additional accessories to enjoy the games full experience. Looking at the value that each accessory brings is well worth it though, especially with the introduction of the Traps. Also available as add-ons are the new “Eon’s Elite” Skylanders which are eight limited edition figures (originally from Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure) which have a new metallic coat and foil packaging that doubles up as an impressive display case. These Skylanders have triple the strength of regular characters, that is , if you dare take them out of their beautiful packaging. Collectors with children… beware!