Skylanders Giants Review
I discovered the Skylanders craze pretty late in the game, when I came across a display for Skylanders Giants in a Toys R’ Us. It definitely caught my eye, and once I realized that the toys you bought in the store are actually brought to life in the game, I had to play it for myself. After putting a large amount of hours into it, I am happy to report that Skylanders Giants is not only an incredibly cool concept, but also a really enjoyable game.
Skylanders Giants is a sort of hard to explain, if only because it’s really the first of its kind (though Disney Infinity recently stepped up to the plate with a very similar concept). Basically, when you purchase the Skylanders Giants Starter Kit, you get three figures (and their in-game avatars). Included in the pack are Cynder (Undead), Jet-Vac (Air), and a Giant, Tree Rex (Life). There are plenty of other Skylanders that you can purchase in stores, but they aren’t necessary to complete the game. The figures are placed on the included Portal Of Power, and the characters appear instantly in the game. All of the figures have a “brain” memory chip inside them, which saves all of the figure’s progress and leveling – and they can be used on any console platform. All of the Giants figures light up when placed on the platform, and are noticeably larger than the regular figures. The Giants can break walls and use their weight to fall through floors, accessing new paths that can lead to secret Hats and Soul Gems. They can also pick up boulders and throw them at enemies, and move large stones to create bridges. I’ve purchased the Giant figures Ninjini and Bouncer (along with a number of regular characters and a limited edition Gnarly Tree Rex), and they all seem to be stronger than the standard characters, but also significantly slower.
You could say that Skylanders Giants plays a bit like the LEGO games, with simplistic adventure/ platforming gameplay, and up to two players can join the game at once. You’ll essentially be taking on hordes of bad guys and adventuring through many different worlds, all while collecting loot to purchase upgrades and cool hats that add attribute boosts. I never played the original game, Spyro’s Adventure, but from what I understand the games are very similar, and certain figures from that game have been brought back for another round with a Series 2 update, featuring upgraded moves and abilities. One more very cool thing: all of the Spyro’s Adventure figures are compatible with Skylanders Giants, and all of the Skylanders Giants figures will be compatible with this fall’s Skylanders Swap Force. Every Skylander belongs to an element, like Fire, Air, Water, Tech, etc. Every character is brimming with life, and the colorful animations, sound effects, voice acting and a great score by Hans Zimmer add a lot to the production value.
When a Skylander is in an area that matches their element, they can heal up, they’re stronger, and they also gain more experience. Further, certain paths can only be accessed by Skylanders of a certain element. So if you want to find every secret in the game, you’ll need to purchase one Skylander from every element, of which there are eight. The Starter Kit comes with three characters, all from different elements. The toys themselves are quite impressive, with a ton of detail and creativity. The toys and the Portal of Power worked flawlessly in my time with the game. It should be noted that the Series 2 figures can work with the previous game, without any of the upgrades from Giants, but the actual Giants figures will not work, which is understandable as the game was not built with them in mind.
The gameplay is definitely enjoyable, especially with a friend. I found that it’s a great title to play with people who aren’t very familiar with complex modern games and controls, for instance my girlfriend, who fell in love with Skylanders Giants. The only real drawbacks to the game are the noticeably slow speed of movement (especially with the Giant characters like Tree Rex), and that there is no jump button (even my girlfriend, who rarely plays 3D games, almost immediately noticed this). I’ve heard that a jump function is being added to the upcoming Skylanders Swap Force, and hopefully they’ll figure out a way to eventually make the game four player as well. The Battle Mode would be especially fun with more than just two players. Even if two Portals had to be hooked up, I’m sure many fans would jump at the chance to play four-player Skylanders.
Overall, Skylanders Giants is an enjoyable experience for just about anyone. It provides a more relaxing escape from the ultra-dark shooters and frustrating FPS games flooding the market today, and it’s simple and innocuous enough that young children and even grandparents can pick it up and have fun. If your significant other doesn’t play many games because they don’t know how, Skylanders Giants might just be the answer for some quality gaming time. In fact, I found my girlfriend constantly pestering me to play the game while I was trying to get work done. It’s definitely an addictive experience, and every aspect of Skylanders Giants is well-crafted. There’s even a Nightmare mode for more experienced gamers, and the variety of figures available gives the game a lot of replay value. Hats off to Toys For Bob for creating a superb family gaming experience.
Skylanders Giants can be purchased on Amazon here.