- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Toys For Bob
- ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
- Genre: Family Action
- Pros: Unique Gameplay, Fun Character Design
- Cons: Boring Environments, Dull Action
Is it any good? Not really. "Skylanders Giants" is a relatively straightforward platforming game that relies heavily on smashing items to collect things -- the basic foundation of most kids action games. The player moves action figures on to a physical pedestal and they enter the game. The figure even remembers your progress, which means you could build up a character with new skills or experience points and take it on the road. One can also constantly buy new characters to bring into the Skylanders world and all toys for the "Skylanders Spyro's Adventures" game are compatible here.
Smash items. Smash enemies. Jump. Smash some more. There's something to be said for simplified gameplay that allows a game like "Skylanders Giants" to appeal to a wide fan base. However, it doesn't have to be THIS simple. The "LEGO" games have proven that family games could be complex enough to appeal to older players while also working for the young ones. There are times where "Skylanders Giants" becomes numbing in its repetition, something little kids don't mind but that will frustrate older games. There are so many creative family games on the market ("LittleBigPlanet: Karting" is a great example) that I really hoped "Skylanders Giants" would have a bit more depth in its gameplay and I was disappointed to find that the game really disappoints for most gamers over ten.
The fact is that a lot of this game feels like it was produced to a bare minimum. "What's the simplest environment we could create for players to inhabit with their toys?" The landscapes are practically two-dimensional and the actual combat is deadly dull. And nearly everything the player needs to do in "Giants" comes down to simple quest tasks -- for example, find the key, open the door. There are a series of mini-games throughout the title that are actually more inventive than the core of the title. And this version introduces more competitive gameplay, including a Battle Mode.
And yet there's something kind of fun about the action figure structure of the title. As I switched between the three characters that came with my "Giants" starter kit, I could easily sense how the 10-year-old boy in me would have loved the blend of physical toys and virtual reality. Imagine your favorite action figures as a child not only come to life on your TV but in a way you can control. There's a reason these games have made a fortune and with 40 new toy figures for this release, the money will keep rolling in.
It helps that the best thing about the game, by far, are the actual figures. The three that came with my Starter Kit had different skill sets and were better equipped for different portions of the game. They also felt like the elements of the title that were most detailed in their design. It makes sense -- where do you put the most love and care as a development team? On what you can continue to sell to fans after they buy the game.