What is Skylanders: Trap Team?
Skylanders: Trap Team is a game that, like the other Skylanders games, mixes the virtual world with the real. By placing a real life Skylander figure on the (included) USB base, you get to play as that character in your game, effectively bringing your toys to life! While there's a whole host of add ons and extras available, the Trap Team starter pack comes with everything you need to get going. Packing the USB portal, two figures (water themed crocodile Snap Shot, and Food Fight, a little green plant man that fires tomatoes), two of the game's brand new traps (water and life - more on these later) and the game itself, what you're getting here is the full package, and it's possible to play through the entire story, whether in same-console co-op or on your own, with the stuff you get in the box.
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The game begins when the series' nefarious bad guy, Kaos, leads a daring raid on the infamous Cloudcracker prison. Shattering the prison's precious Traptanium walls, he frees the ne'erdowells that were held inside, and plans to use them to take over Skylands. Luckily for the residents of Skylands, this is where you come in, as with the help of the Skylanders, it's up to you to fight off Kaos and his villainous friends, and defend Skylands once more.
How do you play Skylanders: Trap Team?
A LEGO-esque adventure game, Skylanders is a lot of fun. Easy to pick up and play, with only a few buttons handling your character's moves, there's no complex combinations to learn - all you have to really do is mash the buttons to beat the bad guys up, solve a few basic puzzles, and keep an eye out for any collectibles, like the famous hats, which can be used to customise your Skylander!
The biggest new feature in Trap Team is the traps, which let you capture, and even play as the game's main villains. At certain points in each level, you'll come across sub-bosses, which can be captured once defeated. The act of trapping a baddie is as easy as placing a trap into the port on the bundled USB portal, and sitting back as the villain shouts on the TV screen, and is transferred to the portal - at which point their voice will start coming from the portal itself! It's a pretty cool effect, to say the least. We should note, however, that you will need the right element of trap in order to catch a villain - much like Skylanders, the villains come in one of ten elemental flavours, and can only be caught in a trap of the right element. Luckily, even if you don't have the right kind of trap, defeating a villain will send it to the villain vault in the hub world, where you can download it onto a trap at any point in future, should you purchase one of the right element. There are ten different elemental traps in total, and several different designs for each element, although the traps for each element are all functionally identical, regardless of the design.
How easy is Skylanders: Trap Team to pick up and play?
With a very gentle learning curve, Trap Team is easy to pick up and play. With several different difficulty levels to choose from, players of all abilities can tailor the game to suit their skills, and the game's puzzles are mostly of the fairly basic "shuffle these blocks around" variety. The ability to bring along a friend in co-op helps keep the game's difficulty in check too, as newer players can bring a more experienced partner along for the ride!
Perhaps the biggest difficulty modifier is that you can only use each Skylander once in a level - and once their health runs out, that's it, unless you restart the level. That means that, if this is your first Skylanders game, and you're playing with just the included figures, you have just two lives to complete each level in - and if you're playing in co-op, should one of you die, you're dead for the entirety of the level, until the other player can get to the finish.
Of course, because the game is backwards compatible with every Skylander ever made, if you're something of a Skylanders fan, you can bring your older figures forward with you, and play as them in the game with no issues - new figures are available for only a few quid second hand, too. But, if you're just starting out, you may find it tricky to make it through the game with just the two included characters. It should also be noted that, while you can play through the full story mode of the game out of the box, there are certain areas locked off that you'll need to buy certain Skylanders to access. While previous games locked these behind elemental doors - so as long as you had a Skylander of that elemental type, you'd be able to access it - Trap Team instead requires a Trap Master of a specific element (a special kind of figure) - and as there's only a couple of Trap Master figures of each element, it's effectively locking these areas to a specific character or two.
While there's a fair amount of combat in Skylanders: Trap Team, there's nothing that parents should be overly concerned about. There's no swearing, no sexual content, and the only real violence is suitably unrealistic. Your character may attack people with a giant glowing sword, but enemies will simply flash a bit when hit, with no signs of physical damage, with enemies simply falling over and disappearing when defeated.
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360