Friday, 9 November 2012

Review: Skylanders: Giants (PS3)

I really like Skylanders: Giants. The chief reason for this enjoyment is that I don't have to play it. That might require some explanation if you're just stumbling onto this review and you don't know me from a hole in the ground.

I have five (5) kids at home, boys and girls ranging in age from 13 to 1. The bulk of the games I play and enjoy can't be played in the presence of minors. Halo 4, Dishonored, LA Noire, titles that are definitely not in the kid-friendly wheelhouse. Skylanders: Giants, carrying forward the ideas of the original Skylanders, is very kid friendly. It's bright and colourful, progress is relatively straightforward (beat things up, collect stuff, open doors, etc.), and any adult with a bit of knowledge of video games can step in and navigate the truly difficult areas. It's great to have a game like this that engages kids but doesn't insult the intelligence of adults.

Basically this review is the product of unpaid child labour because all I did was sit and watch and occasionally swap out Skylander figures or take the controller for a couple of minutes.

For those of you that may not know, the "hook" for Skylanders: Giants is the "portal" that plugs into the Playstation 3 and a (seemingly) endless roster of characters can be placed on the portal to zap into the game. On occasion the game demands a specific "type" of Skylander to access an area or complete some objective during the rambling story mode, but for a lot of the game players can use a small handful of characters. In fact, it would be easy to level up the three characters that come with the boxed version of the game -- two regular, one giant -- and never need another character.

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I think I'm finally through that part in my life where collecting figurines and action figures has finally fallen to the wayside, but kids love collecting stuff, especially if they can interact with it in some way. So, like last year's game, it's probably a good thing for Activision and developer Toys for Bob that Giants comes out now, right before Christmas and the holiday season, with a host of collectible figurines to choose from, especially because all the "old" figures will work with Giants, too. Warning to Parents: Collecting them all could set you back a fair amount!

Besides being accessible to just about all ages -- my 4-year old had no problems, though he finished Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes without much help so maybe that's not the best yardstick to measure "accessible" -- it's inoffensive, provides a middlin' challenge, and it's fun to watch and play (if it comes down to it.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- The "giant" figure actually has some weight to it
- Fun for kids (with some adult supervision)
- Accessible for just about everyone
- Compatible with last year's Skylander figures

The Bad:
- Feeding a collection can make for a pricey proposition

Score: 8.5 / 10