Skylanders Giants is poised to continue 2011’s trend of blending toys and video games together as Activision releases a sequel to last year’s retail hit. The original had some great concepts but ended up being a little too hard for my then-seven year old son to complete of his own accord and ability.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first Skylanders game. It was a colorful action game with lots of personality. It also took a serious strike at my wallet, as collecting figures (aka playable characters) for myself and my son was a large part of the joy of Skylanders.
Skylanders Giants creates a safe sequel. The story is still very much whimsical, with Kaos returning as the main villian. Kaos delivers the funniest humor in the game, and even though it’s kid-friendly, I still found myself laughing quite often at the villain. The Skylanders themselves have more personality this time around too, which was something I found to be lacking in the last game. It isn’t JUST Kaos running the show anymore, the Skylanders in play have more say (literally) in the dialogue department.
Let’s face it, though, the driving force in this game is watching your toys come to life in a video game and level them up as you play through the game. Skylanders Giants does that well, adding a new type of figurine to the already-diverse cast of toys available. All of the toys you bought for the last game are compatible, so you have the opportunity to use old favorites as well as new characters.
In terms of gameplay, it’s very much the same as before so, if you have played Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, you will feel right at home. Like I said, it’s very much a safe sequel in many regards. You have a main hub between stages, each stage is littered with optional content based on what Skylanders you have, and completing each stage is rewarded with the often-times humorous cutscene. The sole problem with Skylanders Giants, if it can even be called that, is that it doesn’t really introducing anything new.
The Giants can’t really be considered new, in terms of gameplay. Scattered throughout the levels are places where they can break things that other Skylanders can’t. They move a little slower and look a little bigger but, other than that, they are just new figures.
Skylanders Giants isn’t particularly lacking anything, it just feels like more levels for Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. You can’t fault the developer for taking this route, but it would have been nice to see something genuinely new to the series instead of a few minor tweaks. That said, it’s still a great investment for those who loved the first one or anyone looking to get into the figurine-collecting craze.
Adult Score: 4/5
Last year, my son (age 8 now) had some difficulties with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. There was a noticeable difficulty spike at the end, which frustrated him a lot. This time around, he hasn’t had much problem getting through the game so far.
He laughs during the story, but also has a tendency to skip parts of the story by accident. To that effect, it’s been rather hard to get information out of him about what is going on. I would ask after he played some, and he never had an answer outside of something that just happened when he was actually playing.
As I said, the difficulty seems to be more fitting this time around. During the course of time we played together, I played as the Giant (Tree Rex comes with the starter pack) and he would swap between other Skylanders. He never picked the Giants because they moved “too slow,” but he liked how they looked. That’s not enough to warrant purchasing all eight new Giants, so if this purchase is solely for your kid make sure to keep that in mind before you drop a bunch of money on characters they won’t use. Your kid could prefer the Giants.
There was an agreement between the two of us (unprovoked by me) that the game is very much the same as the first. Like me, he didn’t find this to be a fault of the game, and whether or not the game is just a tad easier or he is getting better at games, he’s spent less time being frustrated with the game than the original. This is quite possibly the biggest perk of the game, not the added characters.
If for some reason you skipped the first round of Skylanders for whatever reason and your kid is itching to get into the trend, Skylanders Giants is a viable game for kids and families alike. My son’s birthday and Christmas list is now filled with Skylanders figures, which makes my Fall shopping a little easier.
Kids Score: 4/5
Note: This review is based on gameplay for the Playstation 3 console with material received by the publisher. Skylanders Giants is also available on the 3DS, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii and Wii U platforms.