Skylanders Giants Portal Pack Xbox 360 User Review
Super Gamer Dude
After the massive success of the first Skylanders game, Activision clearly had to release a sequel, and now we finally have that sequel in Skylanders Giants. There are two different ways you can buy this sequel, depending on whether or not you bought the first game. For people who have never purchased a Skylanders game before, Activision offers a starter kit once again, but they are also offering what they call the Skylanders Giants Booster Pack. This version of the game ditches the portal and the normal sized characters that come with the starter pack, and only comes with a copy of the game and one of the new figure types, "Giants".
The biggest new feature of Skylanders Giants is rather appropriately the Giants that have been added to the game. And... well, they're bigger than normal Skylanders, both in terms of the real life toys as well as and in the game itself. In true Skylanders fashion, owning a giant of some sort or another is essential to being able to finish the game, and owning more than one will make it much, much easier to beat the game.
In addition to the Giants, Activision has also introduced the second series of normal sized Skylanders characters as well as re-issues of the first line of characters. They are simply calling this set "Series 2", and each of the new Skylanders start at level 1, even if they are a re-issue of a Skylander that you already owned.
While all the additions to the figures themselves are certainly welcome, it seems like the team that worked on this came was far too heavily invested in that part and not nearly enough invested in the game itself. For starters, the new hub world is far too limited when compared to the hub from the old game, and the new board game you play there named "Skystones" feels tacked on and practically worthless. In fact, if I had to sum up what Skylanders Giants is, its practically the exact same game with a few new characters to play with.
Skylanders also keeps some of the most exploitative and disapointing practices of the first game, such as the soul gems that give you abilities for Skylanders you do not actually own, then play an advertisement for that character. The new series two re-issues have one or two new skills, and those new skills are never available to get for the series 1 characters.
At the end of the day, if you or your kid was super into the first Skylanders, this game is a great follow-up to that, but if Activision does not start changing up the formula sooner rather than later, the gameplay will grow stale, not unlike Activision has already made happen with several of their franchises in the past. Nevertheless, the great feeling you get when you use the portal hasn't quite gone away yet, and you should enjoy Giants for what it is, not what it could become.