CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Activision struck gold last year with the release of "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure," a first-of-its-kind entertainment experience that seamlessly merged the worlds of video games and collectible toys. Allowing players to bring their toys to life in an immersive virtual world, "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure" proved to be a hit with gamers of all ages.
So how exactly does one follow up on such a smashing success? In the case of "Skylanders," the answer is simple. Go big. Go Giant.
"Skylanders Giants" builds upon everything that fans loved about the original while maintaining the same light-hearted vibe and tight gameplay. Like its predecessor, "Giants" is all about teaming up with a friend and beating up wave after wave of enemies while collecting loot and solving puzzles for good measure. Placing a Skylanders toy on the Portal of Power drops it into the game world, and all of the experience and loot you earn with each character is saved to the figure, itself. This allows you to take your favorites to a friend's house and show off your powered-up creation.
While all of your original Skylanders are compatible with "Giants," the new game introduces eight new Skylanders along with eight Giant Skylanders, characters capable of smashing through obstacles, tossing boulders and delivering a serious beat-down to even the most annoying boss. New versions of original Skylanders characters are also available, complete with new powers.
The Skylanders figures cost between $10-15 apiece, so "Giants" can become a rather expensive hobby. But the game can be completed with the figures included in the $74.99 starter pack or any Skylanders you already own, so purchasing additional figures isn't required. Even if a particular youngster tries to convince you otherwise.
In addition to the campaign - which I found to be surprisingly long and satisfyingly challenging for a game of this type - there are player-vs.-player battles that let two gamers duel with their favorite characters for coins and experience. It's a nice distraction, but my kids and I spent the bulk of our time tackling the story mode with a small collection of Skylanders at our disposal.
My only gripes with "Giants" are the lack of a jump button and the fact the game limits the action to only two players, but these are really only minor annoyances. The fact remains my kids and I had an absolute blast playing through "Skylanders Giants."
Whether you play alongside a child or simply to satisfy your own inner child, "Skylanders Giants" is an experience that shouldn't be missed.