Disney Infinity captured the imaginations of us all last year, using a model not unlike Skylanders. I was out at the store day one with my copy in hand, and I thought it was great. If you are interested in my thoughts from last year, here’s a copy to the review, along with a short gameplay video. Otherwise, let’s take a look at this year’s edition.
Release date: September 26th, 2014
Consoles: Numerous (Visit the Disney Infinity 2.0 online store – For individual starter kit links, scroll to the bottom)
The biggest difference between last year and this year is the integration of the Marvel Superheroes Universe. In fact, the starter kit is based around solely around it. The interesting thing here is that it opens up a crazy new dynamic in the free for all toy box mode, allowing you and your kids to combine the best of both worlds. As well, there have been a lot of questions coming from concerned gamers and parents around what is and isn’t backwards and forwards compatible between the two games. Disney Interactive had the foresight to include a chart on the back of the software over what it is and isn’t going to work. Here’s that list:
As seems to be the case, you’re going to be presented with a software update right off the hop. It’s around 1.3 GB, so head off and run a couple errands before you come back. If anybody is keeping score at home, this is the third game in a row in the last 7 days that I’ve reviewed now that has had massive day one software updates.
Anyway, this gave me time to unbox the starter set. My biggest gripe last year was that I basically had to destroy the packaging the game came in to get everything out. It was much easier this year. I managed to get all the starter set characters out without much effort, and the rest without breaking a sweat. The Marvel Superheroes Starter Pack comes with the game, base, Black Widow, Iron Man and Thor, along with a couple power discs and the Avengers/Stark Tower. Additional comicbook characters (such as the Guardians of the Galaxy) can be purchased, as well as new Disney characters that will be coming out in the next few months, like Tinker Bell and Stitch.
Like last year, these figures look great. Not only are they very professionally put together, but they don’t have the look and feel of a cheap plaything. They’re not just a piece of light and airy moulded plastic on top of a little base with a chip inside. These are well painted and well cared for, sturdy enough to place and displace into the original packaging and take a couple scratches in between.
The concept and controls for Disney Infinity are very simple. It’s a bit button mashy for most older gamers, but the younger gamers will have a much easier time. The timing window and character targeting are very generous and fairly automatic, so you can press away without worrying about running off screen with a pack of enemies behind you. The gameplay itself is very simple, and some very simple puzzles are integrated throughout.
New to the game is the idea of crossover characters. Certain additional characters you purchase can be played as in play sets other than their own. In order to unlock this capability, however, you must collect all of that character’s respective crossover coins. You will see this very early in the game (the second stage of the Avengers set) when you begin to collect Rocket Raccoon (from Guardians of the Galaxy) coins. Collect all 10 of the scattered coins, and you unlock the ability to play as them on that play set. This only works for certain characters right now, however, and it won’t be something for every figure. The only characters that can cross over to other play sets right now are Rocket Raccoon, Nova (from the Spider-Man pack,) The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man.
The Voice Casting for video games are always fun, and this game is no exception. Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, and Steven Weber (of Wings fame) is back as the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man set. You’ll also hear from famous cartoon voiceover actors like Tom Kenny, Charlie Adler and Carlos Alazraqui, and of course, what is a Disney game without an appearance by Scott Weinger? I don’t even know if he’s done anything with his acting career besides Aladdin and Full House, but he’s definitely got a job for life as long as Agrabah’s finest needs his voice.
The play sets themselves are a pretty straightforward action/adventure title for each, bringing you into the world of that respective franchise. Unlike last year’s game where you had 3 different play sets in the starter cube (depending on the character you started with,) you’ve got the one master Avengers playset this time out. The basis is for you to thwart New York City of the Frost Giants Loki has unleashed in an attempt to stop the Avengers. It’s pretty simplistic, and it kind of is. This play set here I believe is really just a way for you to learn the basic mechanics of the game, and the biggest addition to the characters’ playability – The Skill Tree. The Skill Tree here is the same as you saw in Watch Dogs, and you’ll see in most games. It’s literally a tree because for you to obtain the fruit, you have to travel up the branches, so to speak. You unlock one skill through the acquisition of points (via spark collection) and once done, you can unlock more complex skills along that general line of skill sets. The time has been taken for all of the previous game’s characters to take advantage of this capability as well, so not to feel you’re taking empty shell characters into new battles. They don’t have some of the specialty capabilities that the 2.0 characters do, but it’s nice that they’re invited into the fold nevertheless.
This isn’t the cool part of Disney Infinity and its following though. The encouragement for community input is, and thankfully, the Toy Box is much more robust and much easier for you to manipulate for the good of creating your own content. You can do everything from create your own cityscapes to races. It’s all laid out pretty well, and each specific toy chest area has a gatekeeper figurehead to take you through the whole thing.
To be honest, I really didn’t understand why the Toy Box in the first game was so darned difficult for you to just obtain your own content, but this one makes it a whole lot easier to walk through and get started. This time out, the Sparks you pick up are used for your own items, though in some cases, more complex pieces can only be unlocked when you’ve purchased pre-requisites. As with the first game, the different colored sparks have different purposes, from charging special meters to regenerating life.
(On a side note, if anybody’s put together some really cool Phineas and Ferb content, especially as concerns with Agent P, get in touch.)
While the title seems more refined overall than the first game, there are still a few things that need addressing. Kids probably won’t notice or care, but the graphics can be a tad clippy. I found cases where my character’s arm would disappear into the wall during a punch, or seemingly travel through an enemy like a 70s Kung Fu B movie. Since the game does a lot of auto-targeting, camera angle logic is completely out the window, and you’ll often be unable to see what you’re doing if there are 4 or 5 that you’re attacking simultaneously. That’s really my only complaints though. Disney Infinity tends to be one of my favourite new series’ out there because not only is it a great opportunity to play and collect familiar faces, but it encourages you to bring out your creative side and let loose. You can even share any Toy Boxes that you’ve created through the Friend Share options, however, it’s only available to you if you have a Disney Account that you’ve signed in through at the game’s setup. The feature’s always available if you bypass.
That being said, Disney Infinity does remain a pretty niche game, however, due to my family’s lifelong love for all things Disney (My wife and I even picked Disneyworld as our honeymoon spot) and the recognizable nature of all the characters, I would pick this over Skylanders in a heartbeat. The kids know who Iron Man, or Stitch, or Anna and Elsa are, and one of the coolest aspects for them is the way they can own the little characters and bring them to life on their gaming console as well. It really helps that the characters from the last game are forward compatible, meaning that buying all those extras weren’t for naught.
Remember, the fun doesn’t end once the Avengers story does! There are going to be plenty of playsets upcoming, and a new generation of Power Discs have been released specifically for this game too to unlock even more content for you. Like last year, you obtain them in randomly sealed packs. Here’s a list of all the available Power Discs:
Gameplay: 4 / 5
Graphics: 4 / 5
Sound: 4 / 5
Controls: 4 / 5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4 / 5
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 (80%)
Disney Infinity 2.0 is available in two different forms. Those who want to make the leap now can purchase the starter kit for the following consoles:
PlayStation 4 Limited Edition (Very Limited Stock left)
PlayStation 3 Limited Edition (Currently Sold Out)
If you’re not interested in the Marvel Superheroes element of it, a Toy Box starter kit is due for release in November and features Merida (from Brave) and Stitch along with the base, 2 power discs and the base. Those you can pre-order now for the following consoles.