Review: "Skylanders Giants" Towers Over the Original
Action figures become virtual players in this platforming adventure.
Last year's release of "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure" not only introduced an entertaining action/adventure game for players of all ages, but also inspired the sale of a number of collectible figurines that interact with the game. Activision is going bigger and better with this year's sequel, "Skylanders Giants," which is available in a $75 starter pack for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. (You can also buy the game by itself for $60 if you have older figures and a portal — more on that in a bit.)
In "Giants," you team up with a small group of "Skylander" rebels to stop the evil KAOS, who's seeking a mystical glove that will help him rule the world. It's not easy, as a bunch of dangerous enemies and obstacles stand in your way. Luckily, you've got a wide range of Skylanders to choose from.
As in last year's game, you place figurines on a portal, which puts a virtual version of them in the game, a novel idea that continues to work well. However, for "Giants," Activision has introduced some larger characters that light up when put in place. The bigger versions carry a slightly higher price tag than regular Skylanders ($15, compared to $9), but kids will enjoy their glowing appearance, as well as how they perform in the game. New, regular-sized Skylanders are also being introduced, including Jet Vac, a very effective warrior carrying a wind cannon. (If you're a collector, Toys ‘R' Us and Target already offer exclusive Legendary and special-edition figures.)
The gameplay hasn't changed much from the original, as you still break through into new areas, battle enemies using various techniques and seek out hidden goodies. But it continues to be good fun, especially when you team up with a friend in co-op by placing two figures on the portal. A "versus" multiplayer Arena mode is also available, if you feel like fighting each other.
Toys For Bob, the developers of the "Skylanders" games, hasn't changed the game’s presentation very much. But the new levels are charming, ranging from a crooked pirate town (where you can play tile games against the locals) to a beautiful snow town with frozen pools you can slide around. All the Skylanders display a great deal of character as they move along and attack enemies. For instance, when the mighty Tree Rex attacks, flowers sprout around him.
An easygoing voice-cast adds to the charm. You might recognize the voice of the arrogant Captain Flynn, as Patrick Warburton, "Puddy" from Seinfeld, once again plays the role. The fantasy-based music hits the spot as well.
Though "Skylanders Giants" doesn't change a lot from the original in terms of general gameplay and might cost an arm or a leg when it comes to collecting the deluxe Giant figures, it's still got way more heart than most of the rushed kids' products out there. These "Giants" stand tall amidst the pack.