Skylanders Giants is the sequel to Activision’s highly successful 2011 release of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (you can read our review of it here.). This new release builds upon the successes of the first with even more blending of the physical and digital worlds. New giant-size figures, huge levels, more powers and a new “Battle Mode” will excite the inner child in all of us.
The game is centered around the story of the ancient Skylanders, the Giants, who were separated from their normal sized kin. The evil Kaos, who was turned into a toy on Earth in the last game, is back. He has awakened an ancient Arkeyan Conquertron and has taken control of it. Kaos is now using it to find the Lost City of Arkeyans and the power it holds.
And this is were your journey begins. With new Skylanders and some old ones, you must stop Kaos at all costs.
Skylanders has become a huge hit in my family. My six year old son, Alex, loved the first game so of course he wanted this one. And I obliged. If you are already an owner of the first game, you don’t need to buy the starter pack. Your original “Portal of Power” will work with Skylanders Giants which will you save you $15. Your original figures will also work with the new game which is another great feature. We have massed a huge collection at home and they can be used on both games. Even some of the new figures are backwards compatible.
Skylanders Giants, as with the previous game, is designed with younger gamers in mind. The style and graphics are bright and vivid with a cute-like quality. The controls and gameplay are very straight forward, similar to the LEGO video game franchise. There are puzzles to solve, objects to smash and rewards to collect. Each Skylander has two attack moves and one additional power. As you play through the game, your Skylander’s stats will increase, gradually improving it. Just like the first game, the rewards collected can be used to upgrade your Skylander’s abilities. There are also new powers and abilities added so your old Skylanders can learn some new tricks.
Players can find new headgear hidden throughout the game. These fashion no-no’s will give a boost to your character. Whether to health or attack, it will give you an edge during battle. They are pretty funny and definitely designed for kids. I’ve never seen a banana helmet in Gears of War but it fits right in with this game. The only down side to them is the inability to share them with other Skylanders. Its finders keepers for these hats.
Each Skylander will be part a certain tribe. Their are eight different tribes, each can access different levels. A grass-type Skylander can access a locked grass level. If you use a Skylander that is the same type of the area, it will be more effective in battle. These features of the game promote switching your Skylanders regularly making the gameplay more fresh and exciting. What is also a really cool feature, is all the experience gained and abilities learned are stored in your figure. This allows you to bring your Skylander to a friends house and play on other gaming platforms.
New Skylanders join the fight
Skylanders Giants brings some really cool new characters to the game. Players will receive one giant Skylander (Tree Rex) with either the Starter Pack or Portal Owners Pack. You can also buy seven other giants to add to your collection, one for each type. You can also buy a bunch of new characters and fan-favorites from the first game that have a new look and abilities. You can also buy LightCore Skylanders which light-up in the real-world and game as you play.
Giant Skylanders are more than twice the size of a regular Skylander. The Giants are able to use their size and power to solve unique puzzles and interact with the game world. Tree Rex can lift huge boulders that are blocking areas and toss them out of the way.
LightCore Skylanders will light-up as you play the game in both the game and in the real world. It just another way Activision has found a way to blend the two worlds.
New Skylanders and Series 2 add even more option to playing Skylanders Giants. You can purchase brand new Skylander. Each one has their own unique abilities, powers and personalities. Also, some fan-favorites from the last game return. These Series 2 figures have new “Wow Pow” upgrades as well as the ability to choose more than one upgrade path.
Drop and go
One of my favorite features is the quick drop in and out co-opperative play. I can turn on my controller and drop a Skylander onto the portal next my son’s figure and start playing. While Skylanders Giants is pretty easy to play, there are some parts that can be difficult. Its nice to able to drop in, help out my son get past an area and drop back out. Its also nice for when you are playing with friends. Different people can jump in and out making for fun and dynamic gameplay. I can’t stress enough how great this feature is and how well it works.
While the game is focused on a campaign mode, there are other modes to keep the masses entertained. Activision has brought back “Battle Mode” and greatly improved it over the last game. Two Skylanders can face off against each other in three different types of battle with each mode having multiple levels. Its a nice change from the campaign mode.
The only major flaw that I’ve noticed with Skylanders Giants is the need to buy more Skylander figures. You will need at least one of each type of Skylander to be able to access all the levels in the game. And this can get very expensive. The Giant Skylanders cost $14.99 each, LightCore ones cost $11.99 and the new basic figures go for $9.99. And this was an issue for the last game as well. This can really hit the pocket of the parents buying them. A silver lining to this is you can use your old figures but you know the kids will want to get them all.
Skylanders Giants is a great family game. While it can be costly, its a fun and easy game to play that fosters co-operative play. The flawless switching in and out of Skylanders and players is a huge success of this game. The animation is smooth and the graphics child-inspired which is perfectly tailored to younger gamers. Besides the LEGO franchise, this is the only game that has lasting power with my son Alex. He may be excited about some new game but it never really captures his attention. But Skylanders does. Just like LEGO games, the straight forward gameplay and the ability replay areas keeps him wanting to play the game. I’ve spent way too much money on the figures but it is really worth the money spent on it.
This is a must have for any family with younger gamers.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Metacritic.com: 80 out of 100
Our Take: Simple gameplay and easy drop in/out co-op makes this a perfect game for younger players. Though it can become expensive with purchasing figures.
Available on: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS and Wii U (coming soon)