Skylanders SWAP Force

Activision Blizzard launches film and TV studio

Activision Blizzard launches film and TV studio

Skylanders animated series in development, Call of Duty movies and shows planned.

Activision Blizzard has launched a film and TV studio, entitled Activision Blizzard Studios, to make shows and movies based on its popular video game franchises.

The first of these will be an animated Skylanders show entitled Skylanders Academy. It will star Justin Long (Drag me to Hell) as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale (Phineas and Ferb) as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks (Mike from Breaking Bad) as Eruptor and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) as Glumshanks. Harland Williams and Richard Horvitz will also play supporting roles.

Activision Blizzard Studios is also planning to make Call of Duty films and possibly a TV series. According to its announcement, the studio "envisions a series of Call of Duty feature films as well as the possibility of television adaptations."

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Skylanders SWAP Force review

Skylanders SWAP Force review

No half measures.

"Steady as she goes" might well be the design mantra for this third entry in Activision's hugely successful kids franchise. Vicarious Visions takes over from series originator Toys for Bob, and while comparisons with Infinity Ward and Treyarch's shared custody of the Call of Duty series may be premature, this certainly has the feel of a second studio on babysitting duty. There are additions and improvements here, but it's more a refinement of the template put in place by last year's Skylanders Giants than a meaningful step forwards.

The headline change is the arrival of the SWAP Force toys. These split in two at the waist and can be recombined into different configurations in a pick-and-mix style. There are 16 SWAP Force characters, two of which come as standard with the game, totalling 256 potential combinations. There's even a handy stat screen which ticks them off as you try them out.

They're fun to play with, as appealingly sculpted and sturdily built as the previous toy lines, but the gameplay benefits are harder to pin down. Where Giants felt like it was designed around its oversized new characters, the SWAP Force concept never feels like it's at the heart of the game.

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