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Skylander fever is still raging for many gamers. Collecting all the toys and level packs released for Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure can run you well over $300 at this point, yet parents and players all over the world are scrambling to get a full set of figures. That’s because despite the whimsical atmosphere and child-friendly design, Skylanders is a dungeon crawler, and a pretty addictive one at that.
Skylanders Giants maintains the epic quest foundations laid down in Spyro’s Adventure but deepens the gameplay through interactive environments and usable items. It feels much more like a measured introduction to Blizzard’s hack-n-slash Diablo series than its predecessor and gives players many more opportunities to customize their experiences.
What you’ll like
The first Skylanders game was very pretty, but many levels felt too short or too simple. Giants answers this by introducing sweeping, multistage worlds full of hidden pathways and tricky puzzles.
One of the biggest changes is that characters can now go inside of buildings. You never know what you’re going to find tucked away inside a house, and that adds so much to the depth of a level. You can easily overlook some of the legendary treasures or hats hidden in each level if you don’t explore every inch of the map.
Element-specific areas are also better designed. Rather than putting up a special gate that is often thematically inconsistent to everything else in the world, elemental areas now send up rocks, towers of gears, or vines to block Skylanders that aren’t allowed in.
Finding these areas are little more difficult than before, but it’s a lot more fun to stumble across a special zone and watch the path close in front of you until you select a corresponding character.
However profit-driven you believe Activision is, the company is smart enough to realize that forcing consumers to buy a whole new set of Skylanders toys to replace the ones they already have is a terrible plan. When you pick up Skylanders Giants, all of your current figures will work.
A whole new batch of toys is on the way, though, and a few of them won’t work with the older Spyro’s Adventure. But enough characters overlap that you won’t feel cheated.
What’s really great is that the separate adventure maps from the first game actually work on Giants. I was very surprised when I threw my pirate ship figure on the portal and actually got to play through the level again. You can even use the new Skylanders in these additional areas.
This will likely make a lot of parents very happy since the adventure maps were $25 a piece when they launched. Activision also has a handy Skylanders compatibility list on the game’s website.
The eight new giant Skylanders are massive, brawny monsters ripped out of Skyland’s history. They were the first heroes in the world and act a lot like titans out of Greek mythology.
Beyond their place in the story, stomping around as a massive and seemingly indestructible character is amazingly fun. They can perform new feats of strength, which means that they can throw piles of logs in the air or pull chained islands down so you can access the goodies on them. They can even break through obstacles other Skylanders need cannons or bombs to destroy.
Giants are the perfect characters for less experienced players who want to smash everything in their paths but don’t think about conserving health. Giants have twice the hit points of other Skylanders and deal out a lot more damage, so they’re great for crowd control.