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Skylanders: Giants game review

Last year, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure came almost out of nowhere to sell 30 million games. The action figures became instantly collectible. Now Activision has released Skylanders: Giants. And guess what? I’m happy to report that Giants is excellent, as well as a bit more challenging than the first version — especially when you play it on Heavy Hitter (Hard) Mode.

SKYLANDERS: GIANTS
(Activision for PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, 3DS)
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older


Gameplay: 9.0
Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.6
Replay Value: 9.0
Overall Score: 9.0

Pros: Good game design. Giants are genius. Secret places.

Cons: Unplayable characters can be cliché. Still no online play. Characters can’t jump.

With Skylanders: Giants, you get a game for your console, plus action figures, plus a Portal of Power to put those toys into the game. Plug the Portal into your console, and it glows in many colors. Stand a figure on it and whoosh! — like magic, your toy appears as a character in the game.

You level him up and find all sorts of useful powerups and weird hats for your Skylander to wear to become stronger.

But you had all this good stuff in the last game. What makes Giants better?

WHY GIANTS IS BETTER

With all the things to do, Skylanders: Giants is longer. And it’s more wondrous. In this version, a Giant is one of the three figures you receive in your game package. The Giant Tree Rex is kind of a redwood with the attitude and strength of a T-Rex dinosaur.

Why is a bigger Skylanders so excellent? For the same reason it’s fun to play as the large Mario or a Transformer or the Hulk. A big dude like Tree Rex is as huge and strong as you’ll ever dream of being. Just walk him over certain weaker enemies like Chompies (which look like green Pac-Men with sharp teeth) and, splat, they’re gone. He can lift and throw massive boulders. He can pound a hole in rock, too. It’s really kind of empowering.

BIG IS FUN, BUT NOT ALWAYS BETTER

Yet your Giant is also slow and lumbering, at least when you start out. You can win the some of game’s many upgrades to move faster. He’s still not as quick and agile as, say, the purple-winged dragon, Cynder. At one point early on as Tree-Rex, I was ambushed by fire-arrow-wielding enemies called Drow Archers. I just couldn’t move out of the way fast enough. My health went to nothing in seconds, and I had to play the chapter all over again.

The lesson? Big is fun, but it isn’t always better in Giants. That’s why you have two other characters to switch in and out on the Portal.

Even though it isn’t the most creative plot in the world, the tale overall is a worthy one. KAOS, the skull-headed meanie with the black eye tattoos, has broken free of his magical bonds. It’s up to the ancient Giants to help the Skylanders save their world from destruction.

Although they’re sometimes a little too long, I like the scenes that move the story forward after you complete a chapter. The animation isn’t as detailed as in a Pixar movie like “Toy Story 3.” But it’s believable. And the dialog is almost as well written as a Toy Story movie. Sometimes the humor falls flat because it’s corny.

FUN EXTRAS

Gamewise, there’s so much to do this time around. Beyond customizing your character with crazy hats that give you a little extra oomph, you’ll find gem-filled butterflies that give you discounts on accessories in the store.

Plus, you’ll play Skystones against the characters you meet. It’s a fast-paced board game that takes a few minutes for a full game. If you win, you get a Skystone for your collection. I found it so much fun that I played for over an hour against a pirate.

There’s a semi-secret way to level up without playing Story Mode. Once you defeat the big blue bruiser Brock, he becomes your friend. On the flying ship that moves you to various lands in the sky, you can try your luck in a series of battles featuring wave after wave of enemies.

You might be defeated here. (I had a really hard time with the fourth wave of Brock’s Rump Roaster Ruckus.) But the bonus is that each enemy you defeat, even the weak ones, adds points to your level-up bar.

SIMPLY ONE OF THE BEST

The Skylanders characters are cooler than ever. Tree Rex, for example, is twice the size of a non-Giant. He lights up in two spots when you place him on the Portal of Power. His eyes are deep royal blue, and he holds a photosynthesis laser that lights up green. He looks even more intense in a darkened room.

However, some of the characters in Skylanders are too similar to the characters in Toy Story. For instance, goofy Cap’n Flynn might remind you of the swaggering Buzz Lightyear and Woody. But Flynn is not a character you play, so you have to deal with him only in scenes that propel the story.

Despite a few glitches and omissions (Skylanders can’t jump), Giants is even more wide-ranging than Spyro’s Adventure. There’s no doubt about it: It’s one of the year’s best games for kids. And if your parents are young at heart, they’ll really enjoy it, too.

103 Comments on Skylanders: Giants game review

  1. Capt.Mario111 // February 10, 2014 at 7:26 am // Reply

    I have 23 skylanders

  2. Capt.Mario111 // December 14, 2013 at 9:26 am // Reply

    I have Spyro,pumpkin eye brawl,cynder,
    Jet vac,tree Rex,hot head, shroomboom,bouncer and flashwing

  3. Skylanders is the best game series ever!

  4. i love allof the skylanders not even the lame ones i even have all the sylanders

  5. I have crusher. Both.
    (Green and blue)

  6. I finished adventure mode and I have all of the giants including Ninjini

  7. skylanders kid says // April 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm // Reply

    You can’t use any giant or new skylander on the old game.

  8. rad

  9. 1223456789 // March 12, 2013 at 7:09 am // Reply

    I like battle mode. But fighting Kaos is cool too.

  10. i beat it

  11. I just beat skylanders giants yesterday febuary 17 2013 chapter 16 the final battle im board with it now can they make more chapters my skylanders are gnarly tree rex, jet vac, and cynder,

  12. I love the game. My friend had it and it was so much fun i had to get it.

  13. I have a granite crusher and i beat the game, there are 16 main chapters in all included without the special packs. I have the cheat guide too. By the way, a granite crusher is a normal Crusher but it has a black body with blue crystals.

  14. I once got all of my characters defeated! ALL AT THE SAME CHAPTER!!!!!!!!!!!( I only have the skylanders that come with the game). I! Need! HELP!

  15. die Kaos die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. I have about 14 Skylanders and 3 Items: Ignitor S1, Dark Spyro, Stealth Elf S1, Crusher, Bouncer, Tree Rex, Cynder S2, Jet-vac, Gill Grunt S2, Whirlwind S2, Slam Bam S1, Trigger Happy S2, Double Trouble S1, and LightCore Prism Break.

    Items: Empire of Ice, Sky-Iron Shield, and Anvil Rain

  17. skylanders giants players // January 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm // Reply

    the 3ds version is nothing they say in the giants game view

  18. skylaindeed giants player // January 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm // Reply

    I have a collection. so far I have tree rex bouncer pop fizz euruptor and cynder.

  19. i have 3 skylanders 4 the new game (including the game)i have:Jet-vac,Tree rex,and cynder

  20. I Have the game its pritty rad

  21. What is there to do after you have played all 16 Chapters? Can you buy additional Chapters?

  22. stuck on level 5

  23. my fav boss fight is the drill on chapter 11! ITS SO FUNNY BECAUSE HE SINGS DURING THE FIGHT!

  24. dont have it yet hoping for christmas

  25. my friend is getting it .i hope it has battle mode like the first one if it doesn’t i’ll hate it

  26. I have swarm and pop fizz but I do not have the new skylander giants game so I will us my swarm and fizz on the old skylanders.

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