Last year, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure surprised the world reviving the once dead Spyro franchise that had filled with substandard games and replacing it with an addictive game that gave plenty of incentive to spend your hard earned money on. The Skylander toys that gave you in-game characters proved me an addictive and costly obsession to get the most out of the game. It’s a year later and Activision has been rather quick to capitalize on the success of the original games with the follow up Skylanders Giants. Does this quick development cycle mean that this game is a disaster that was released way too early in an attempt to strike while the iron is hot or is Skylander Giants another exciting chapter in a brand new series?
Skylander Giants’ controls should be rather familiar if you played last year’s game or if you’ve had any experience with the Pokemon Rumble franchise. Each Skylander has 2 attacks to start, you roam around the world taking out the evil Skylanders who are in cahoots with the big baddie Kaos. As you go along, your different Skylanders will level up and get stronger, each Skylanders earns their own coins that can be used to upgrade their powers and purchase a 3rd attack for each character bringing them up to a total of 3 attacks. There are many chapters for you to play through and level up your Skylanders and within different portions of each level you have different types of Skylanders that are more powerful within that portion and there are even some areas with items that you can only get if you use certain type of Skylander (there are many different types of Skylander similar to Pokemon). When a Skylander is knocked out he’s useless until you’ve either restarted the level or finished it completely. This is where the game starts to get expensive, you obviously want a lot of Skylanders to be able to fully enjoy the game and have the easiest time beating the game without having to restart the level many times over. Sets of Skylander are expensive with 3 packs selling for $20-25 dollars a shot. As the title of the game suggests a new type of Skylander are introduced called the Giant which both the toy and in-game model are bigger than your average Skylander. This bigger aspect also extends to price where a pack of 3 will cost you around the range of $40. These Skylanders are both more powerful and allow you to access Giant only portions of levels where you need a Giant character to get to. While you only need one Giant character (which is included in the $75 Starter Pack) building an sizable collection of Skylanders will cost you a good amount of money. The game will even give you incentive to have many of the same type, making all of them of the same type more powerful for each of the same type you own which obviously was well thought out for maximizing the money you spend. While this is a pricey game to own I will have to say it’s plenty fun and while you might not be able to justify having a big collection the starter pack gives you something to work with.
The multiplayer options within the game are rather limited. First off you can play the story mode with a friend who’s physically in the same room if he places his Skylander on your reader and joining your game. After which you can play your local save game which each other but being unable to move too far from each other without respawning if you move too far away or being held back by an elastic band which is a disappointingly short range. The co-op is fun though I feel like there could been so much more done allowing more players to play at the same time would have a good addition and having online co-op would have been a great addition. There are a couple of two player battle modes that you can play with your friends like head to head battling, a mode where you must knock your opponent out of the arena, a football inspired mode called Skygoals which would have been a lot more fun if it were 2 vs 2 and Skygems Master where you try and collect gems and steals gems that have been already collected by attacking the other guy. Of all the modes the only one that’s the least bit fun is Skygems but even that is rather bare and I wasn’t really entertained for all that long.
Skylanders Giants features some rather average visuals that are hardly impressive though it’s probably the reason it’s able to run on just about any system I can think of (360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, PC). The world is rather colorful touching just about every color in the rainbow though every color used seems to lean towards the duller side of each rather than the pastel like colors found in a lot of kid friendly games. The character models are rather basic though accurate representation of the Skylander toys they are based on. On the negative the frame rate feels like it lags a lot of the time, not to the point where it effects the gameplay but enough to be noticeable detraction from the presentation of the game. The voice acting cast is rather diverse making up many well known actors that you will surely recognize from George Takei (Sulu on Star Trek to most) to Patrick Warburton (Best known for Puddy on Seinfeld or Joe on Family Guy). The voice acting is rather well done with plenty of comedy added to mix make the dialog a nice bonus. The music is a solid attraction that while i doubt you’ll remember it a year from will definitely appreciate the grand adventure feel it gives you.
Skylanders Giants is a solid game where there’s plenty of fun to be had if you’re willing to pay the price of admission. The $75 starter pack is a good place to start but if you want anywhere near the full enjoyment of the game you’ll need to spend alot more than that to amass a complete collection. While I did enjoy my time with the game I can’t give my full hearted recommendation for this installment because of the half-hearted attempt at multiplayer which would have given my collection of Skylanders a larger purpose. The first generation Skylanders are compatible with this game as I’m sure these second generation will be compatible with the next and each Skylanders does store the stats within a chip in each toy, I’d have to say I won’t get full enjoyment out these toys until a new Skylanders games comes out with fully fleshed out multiplayer mode. This a good installment in the series but i’d have to think the best is yet to come.