Size matters, or at least that’s what Activision wants us to believe with Skylanders Giants, the follow-up to the smash-hit Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. Besides providing gamers with an all-new adventure, some new characters and new figures, it also introduces the concept of giant Skylanders, which are larger figurines that manifest into larger in-game characters. But does the age old ‘bigger is better’ adage apply here?
For the most part, the fundamental Skylanders experience hasn’t changed much in the sequel. You’re still traversing through levels, beating up baddies, collecting treasure and levelling up your heroes to unlock additional abilities. All of your existing figures will work here, and they’ll even carry over all of their same stats from the last game, which can make things a bit easier to start.
The big change – figuratively and literally – are the giants. There are a total of 8 giants, one for each element, who are hulking in-game creatures that have certain abilities that regular Skylanders do not. If you get the starter pack or owner’s pack, you’ll get Tree Rex as your starting figure. As far as the figure goes, I love how it looks and how certain elements of the figure light up when placed on the Portal of Power. Playing as them, however, isn’t as fulfilling. Due to their slow movement and attack speed, they’re just not that fun to play and at times, are even a liability to have out there. Because of this, I only used my giant during the specific moments of the game where one was required. Even then, almost every scenario where a giant is ideal, the game provides alternatives in many cases in case they’ve died.
One other marginal addition is Skystones; a Reversi-style mini-game where your can collect better pieces by beating opponents strewn about the world. Most of these instances are optional, though you’ll want to be ready for times when the game is mandatory. It’s not all that interesting and doesn’t add much to the overall experience. I could have done without it.
Because the game’s biggest innovations don’t pan out in the way Activison may have hoped, you’re essentially left with more of the same. This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing if that’s all you were looking for, but the formula definitely wore thin for me. While it is still a solid experience that is arguably a bit better overall than its predecessor, the lack of freshness soured my time with it. This is still easy to recommend to fans of the original, though it squanders its opportunity to really move the franchise forward.