'Skylanders: Giants' from Activision.
'Skylanders: Giants' from Activision.
Last year's Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure video game title from Activision proved to be a rather big deal. So, how does the game publisher one-up themselves for the second title in the Skylanders series? They go "giant" of course!
Just like in Spyro's Adventure (hereon referred to as SA), Giants uses special plastic figurines that represent the game's many different characters. Placing a figurine on a special platform, called the "Portal of Power", puts that character on screen so the player may control it, leveling it up along the way. Outside of a new story, enemies, and so on software-wise, Giants goes a step further and introduces new Giant Skylanders. These new characters not only have larger figurines than those found in SA, but also play bigger and stronger in the game. One nice thing is that all of the Skylanders that the player may or may not have purchased and leveled-up while playing SA are fully compatible with Giants (just not the other way around). Furthermore, the characters' level caps have been increased for a max level of 10 in SA to 15 in Giants.
Actual gameplay is simple, yet (mostly) enjoyable. Players essentially traverse the land, beating-up or breaking nearly everything that stands in his way in essentially the same spirit as was done in SA. This time, however, there are bigger feats to accomplish. This is where the Giants, who hit harder and can better deal with heavier objects that standard-sized Skylanders cannot, come in. Furthermore, the actual figures of these Giants (apart from being physically larger) light up when on/near the Portal of Power. While this does absolutely nothing to gameplay, it's still nifty (and hazardous to one's wallet should they like glowy things). Breaking up the baddie beatings are segments of the game that involve fairly simplistic puzzles and rather enjoyable shooting sequences (which use the Wii remote).
The entire main storyline for Skylanders Giants can be completed with the characters that come with the starter pack, which includes two standard and one Giant Skylander. The main storyline, however, is only part of the fun. Just like in SA, players who want more than just the core experience will need to shell out extra dollars purchasing new figurines with different attributes in order to access otherwise inaccessible areas of the land. Be forewarned: this can get expensive quickly.
Local co-op play can be a fun experience. One very nice feature with this multi-platform game is that the software doesn't really care what video game console player two's character came from. In other words, if a friend who owns a Skylanders game for PlayStation 3 comes over and brings his figurines can use them on your Wii version of Skylanders. This feature was a good move for Activision with SA and it's a very good thing indeed that it was carried over for Giants.
With an art style and overall attitude that can best be described as cartoonish, Giants won't win many people over with its graphics. It will, however, find many fans through its charm and youthful appeal. Performance-wise, it's not perfect as slowdowns can occur if there is too much action at one time on the screen, but issues like that don't seem to happen too often.
Continuing the racket between the game software and the ever-increasing number of individually purchased character figurines, Activision has found themselves another potential cash cow of a game in Skylanders Giants. It's a game with which dedicated players will need to keep an eye on their checkbooks, but it's also one that delivers enjoyable and accessible gameplay for those stuck between the stereotypical "casual" and "hardcore" gaming crowds. And, at the very least, it's liabel to be a hit with kids.
Final Game Guys grade: B
(Activision provided a Wii copy of this game and related hardware for the purpose of this review.)