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More Of What You Love And Expect From Skylanders, But Feels A Little Short
on October 21, 2012
I don't know about you, but my household became consumed with Skylanders in 2012. It was not just a game, it was an obsession AND a collection. To the tune of hundreds of dollars, we grabbed every character that became available (and that wasn't always easy as Activision didn't do a great job in the supply department). So I was both excited by the prospect of Skylanders Giants and fearful of the financial commitment necessary to supply a whole new chapter of adventures. Despite my love of the game, I wasn't sure I wanted to go down this route again. But when I had an opportunity to get an early copy of the Skylanders Giants Starter Kit, I simply couldn't resist. Let me just cut to the chase before providing a more detailed analysis. If you loved Skylanders, this provides more of the same with some cool new features. More of a continuation than a re-imagining, this won't disappoint fans of the original because it sticks closely to the winning formula that made the original game a cultural phenomenon. Having had the game for a little over a day, we have played it relentlessly and beyond all reason! The game in story mode seems too short, I'll be honest.
The initial offering of the game has been released in two versions:
(1) Skylanders Giants Starter Kit: This includes the game, a portal of power (not necessary to re-purchase, your portal from the original Skylanders works here as well), one new Giant figure Tree Rex (a life element), one regular size new figure Jet Vac (an air element), and one reposed figure Cynder (a death element). There is also the new character poster, the trading cards for the new figures, and some stickers.
(2) Skylanders Giants Portal Owner Pack: This includes the game and Tree Rex only and is designed for those that do not wish to purchase a second portal.
Gameplay: Skylanders Giants operates on the same story mode principles as the first game. You are still battling Kaos who is always good for some great villainous comedy! Vocal talent like Patrick Warburton returns and there are new voices like George Takei and Bobcat Goldthwait. The game, honestly, feels a little skimpy at 16 chapters as opposed to the original's 22 (before expansion packs). Running straight through, you could probably finish this game very quickly. There are, however, more collectibles (soul gems, hats, treasures) and more items to buy. Some of the challenges are a bit more difficult as are the Big Boss battles. But the addition of Giants to these confrontations is a nice boost of power.
Extras: There still exists a Battle mode for those that like to pit their characters against one another in different arenas of chance and skill. And the Heroic Challenges (one of my favorite aspects of the original Skylanders) has some great new twists and challenges.
Giants: The Giants certainly look cool. They are bigger (duh!) and Tree Rex is pretty awesome. They light up on the portal unlike previous characters and are able to smash through things, stomp around creating more havoc and opening up surprising new pathways, and performing other strength maneuvers that help you proceed. In many cases, they can do damage that you previously needed a bomb to accomplish. There will be a total of eight new Giants figures: Swarm, Crusher, Bouncer, Tree Rex (already available) AND Eye Brawl, Ninjini, Thumpback, and Hot Head (yet to be released).
Old Figurines: The new game recognizes all of the progress that you have already earned on your initial figures. I was afraid that they would feel obsolete, but they have also gotten an increase in levels. The initial Skylanders capped them at level ten, now they have been expanded to 15 levels (so you can progress them to new powers).
New Regular-sized Figurines: There are eight new character figures (Pop Fizz, Chill, Flashwing, Sprocket, Hot Dog, Shroom Boom, Jet Vac and Fright Rider) with a couple of new features as well as new reposed characters featured already in the first game (they are distinguished as Series 2 on packaging) that light up (like the Giants) with these same new features and a Smart Bomb attack mode.
I love Skylanders, it's just a fact. I might have hoped that this new incarnation might have taken a few more chances and varied the game play. I might also have hoped it was longer and more intricate. But it is solidly entertaining. Just be cautious, as in the original--the soul gems will convince your kids that they need more, more, and even more. While it doesn't look like the financial commitment will hit as deeply this time around, it is still a sizable investment for avid collectors or completists. KGHarris, 10/12.