Developer: Toys for Bob,
n-Space (3DS), Vicarious Visions (Wii U)
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, 3DS
Release Date: October 21, 2012,
November 18, 2012 (Wii U)
This review and its score are based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of the game provided by Activision for review. Wii and 3DS versions are also discussed below.
When the first release of Skylanders came to me in the mail for review last year, my adult mind was frothing at the mouth to write it off as some kidsâ€™ game and nothing more. After a couple hours of switching my characters in and out, leveling them up, and laughing at the dialogue, I came to realize how much potential this game had. Now, with Activisionâ€™s follow-up Skylanders Giants, I approached the game with a tad more open-mindedness. And for what it is, it definitely does not disappoint.
The story this time around introduces an ancient race of tyrannical robots called Arkeyans who once enslaved the lands thousands years ago but were defeated and laid dormant all these centuries. That is, until they are reawakened once more, wreaking havoc. And the only thing that can stop them are two things: the original Skylander guardians from 1000 years ago, and of course, the portal master who brings them into the world (i.e. the player).
Much of what made the game enjoyable the first time around is back in this game. The funny dialogue, the secret and alternate routes through the levels, special loot and items, and above all â€“ the Skylander figures themselves all make a return in Giants, but they all come with some welcomed additions.
The first major new facet is the inclusion of the aforementioned giants. Each giant is a huge, super powered Skylander that can use their size to turn the tides of an outnumbered battle as well as destroy walls and obstacles that their smaller companions could never overcome. They also have special light-up parts that glow when they are placed on the portal base to transport them into the game. Along with the giants, there are new Skylander figures and special â€œSeries 2â€ edition of past characters replete with new powers and unique skills to upgrade. Also, some of the series 2 figures have special â€œlight coreâ€ editions that light up when placed on the base and have a special power not available in their original counterparts.
Speaking of upgrades, Skylanders Giants provides some further perks to tweak and build your miniature warrior. As you go through the levels, opening up chests, beating bosses and foes alike â€“ you acquire loot that you can use on purchasing new skills or boosting the skills you already have. For example, Spyro can unlock the ability to fly and rain fire from above. Along with skills, you will also come across several hats which add stat bonuses like speed boosts, strength augments, or increase in critical hit damage.
The main draw with Skylanders Giants is the ability to drop characters in and out via placing them on the base, which the game calls a â€œportal of power.â€ Being able to use your character and all their skills and powers on any major system is a huge boon to the game. Also, the game encourages the player to swap characters. For instance, some areas will themed after a certain charactersâ€™ elemental affinity, so if you use a fire-type Skylander in a fire-themed area of the level, they will get a boost in stats. In other situations, some areas are completely blocked off unless you use the right elemental creature.
When it comes to combat, the system is relatively straightforward with an overhead view and simple two button attack layout: one button to attack, the other for a character specific special skill. The game plays like a very "lite" version of Diablo â€“ lots of exploration, loot to find, swarms of enemies to wipe out, and pooling resources to boost skills and stats.
There are also many puzzles in the game used to break up the action and give some moments of respite. However, since this is a game geared towards kids in mind, the puzzles are never too challenging. And even if you are stuck on something, the game lays some pretty heavy-handed hints that all but point to where you are to go and what you are supposed to do at any given moment. The level of hand-holding is a little annoying, but to people half or even a quarter my age, it could be seen as a welcome asset.
While the game is fun to play, especially with other people around, it is not without its shortcomings - the main problem being the insane level of advertisement in the game which constantly tries to sell on the idea of buying the whole set. Some other examples are the various unique special moves for other Skylanders you find in the game accompanied by a teaser reel of the character. The game does a good job of setting you up with a solid experience, but it still cannot escape the ever-present sense of marketing.
Overall, Skylanders Giants is a fun and great edition to the series adding enough perks and tweaks to make it an excellent choice to dive into with some of your younger buds. Just make sure you have the cash to go the distance.
by Chris Haygood
After reviewing the Wii version of Skylanders last year, I can say that Skylanders Giants is more of the same, which is by no means a bad thing: solid, Gauntlet-style gameplay and a large cast of fun characters make Giants a joy for younger gamers, with enough depth to keep older ones entertained as well - great news for gamer parents.
Little has changed in the way of controls, which are simple and easy to master with the Wii controller, and although one can expect a slight graphics discrepancy between the Wii version and the other consoles, the colorful backdrops look great on the system, and seeing the Skylanders and their moves in action is a visual treat.
Overall, Skylanders Giants is everything Spyro's Adventure was, only with a larger cast of characters (larger, ha ha, I'm so funny). There isn't really anything that makes the Wii incarnation the definitive version of Giants, but I personally enjoy the feeling of the Wii controller when playing this game, and if you have a younger gamer in your household, chances are you own a Wii anyway.
by Jason Clement
Much like last year's game, Skylanders Giants on 3DS is actually a different game from its console counterparts (this time developed by n-Space). The core theme of using different Skylanders remains the same, as does the setting of Skylands, but this version has an entirely new story.
Instead of Kaos, the enemy here is Frightbeard, an evil giant Skylander who has escaped from an object known as the Book of Exile, and his goal is to restore his army of pirates from the book as well. Of course, the Skylanders are alerted to this and intend to put a stop to Frightbeard's plans before they come to fruition.
One new addition to this version is the inclusion of some minor voice-acting during a few cutscenes, which is nice to hear. Otherwise, it remains much of the same type of game as last year's. In some ways, the 3DS version seems closer to how Skylander's ideal gameplay should be, since this version actually includes jumping and platforming elements missing in the console versions.
That said, the game is still relatively linear and repetitive at times, though there are definitely some exciting level designs. It also looks fairly solid as far as visuals go, though the framerate does dip well below 30 frames a second at different points throughout each level, but it's only a minor annoyance. If you're looking for a more platformer-oriented experience, definitely check out the 3DS version of the game.
+ New Skylanders and Giants are fun to play
+ Writing is clever and funny
+ Lots to do and discover
- Having to buy more figures
- Lacking an online feature
Overall Score: 7 (out of 10)
Skylanders Giants isn't radically different from last year's entry, but it adds just enough to stay interesting and entertaining, especially for kids.