I don’t think its too much of a stretch to think that all of us played with toys as a kid. On top of that I’d imagine that many of us played with all of our different toys together, not caring if they were from the same movie or series. Barbies danced with Power Rangers, and Hot Wheels raced against remote control cars. That magic and wonder is what made play great, and Disney Infinity is a game that aims to capture that feeling, and replicate it in video games. Disney has succeeded in their quest to capture the magic of play, and by bringing together characters from their past, present and future, have created experience that despite its technical shortcomings, is as memorable as it is endearing.
Disney Infinity is all about making your own story, igniting the spark of imagination and wonder that comes from playing with toys as a kid. To this end, story doesn’t play a large part in the Disney Infinity world.
Each of the Play Sets features its own unique charming and enjoyable story. These stories are self-contained to their respective universes, and are a reasonable 6 hours a piece in length. In Monsters U, you take on the role of Mike, Sulley or Randall, and go about trying to out-prank MU’s longstanding rival; Fear Tech. While in Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbarossa are once again off in search of treasures unforetold. The Incredibles places you in Metro City, where Syndrome has broken three super villains out of prison, and has unleashed them upon the city, as well as an army of Omnidroids. Personally, I found the best part of these Play Set Adventures was the fact that they were very true to the source material.
Outside of the Starter Pack, the two additional Play Sets; Cars and The Lone Ranger also feature their own self-contained stories. Since pre-made stories are not really what Disney Infinity is all about, it was a welcome surprise to see so much love and care put into them. What starts as “I’ll just play through The Incredibles to unlock the helicopter,” quickly becomes “Damn you Syndrome!”
Disney Infinity is broken up into a wide variety of different aspects. When it comes to gameplay the two main options players will have are Play Sets and Toy Box Mode.
The Play Sets are little self-contained stories set within a particular universe. Each Play Set will take you about 6 hours to complete the main story, while afterwards there are a bunch of optional side-missions and collectibles to find. Each of the Play Sets offers a largely different game play experience to the others, which means that even in the Starter Pack alone you will be playing three completely different games.
The Incredibles Play Set is a large open-world adventure where you race through the city of Metroville, scaling its buildings, destroying Omnidroids, escorting police to your secret base and stopping the evil Syndrome.
Monsters U has you trying to prank rival scaring institution; Fear Tech. Monsters U is reminiscent of third person action games, with many of the missions available involving you being armed with a trusty paint gun (or toilet paper launcher) and messing up Fear Tech as best you can.
Pirates of the Caribbean plays as part Uncharted/Tomb Raider and part Assassin’s Creed 3. As you travel around scaling older buildings in search for secrets and treasures, you will engage in a lot of platforming and other adventure-game mainstays. The Play Set also features naval battles that play out a LOT like AC3’s. The variety in this Play Set makes it one of the most varied and fun of the lot.
Each of the Play Sets available in the starter sets covers a popular gaming genre, and at a modest 6 hours a piece there is a lot of content to go through. Some of the missions can get repetitive and the Play Sets aren’t as deep or as complex as some of the games that they are inspired by, but this is by design as Disney Infinity is aimed at kids, and kids will get a kick out of it. While Pirates of the Caribbean isn’t as deep a gameplay experience as Uncharted 3, there is still a heap of fun to be had there and no one will leave feeling overly disappointed.
Where Disney Infinity really shines though is its much-hyped Toy Box Mode. Toy Box mode lets you create levels, worlds and even entire games from a variety of pieces that you unlock by playing the Play Sets and also just for performing various actions in the Toy Box itself. With well more than 1000 toys, terrains, weapons, mounts, blocks and buildings to use, you will be able to create masterpieces without any trouble.
It would be easy to think at first glance that with the incredible amount of items available at your disposal in the Toy Box that making anything would be a daunting challenge for anyone to overcome, let alone the game’s target audience of children. However it doesn’t take too long before you see that the toy box tools are all really simplistic and work together quite nicely. In a few seconds you can set up a goal post that triggers a fireworks display and a change of a scoreboard whenever a goal is scored. It really is that simple, and that makes for a robust experience that anyone can handle.
Unfortunately, all is not perfect in Disney Infinity, as the game suffers from some real performance and gameplay issues that can not only break the experience, but can be down-right frustrating.
The game oftentimes suffers from incredible amounts of Lag. The Toy Box suffers the most from this issue, as changing even something minor can really cause the game to chug and slow down. The texture-pack power discs are the worse, as the whole transition from one texture to the next is not a seamless one. The game comes to an almost complete halt as you watch the textures slowly change around you. It is enough to warrant you only using the power discs sparingly, and just dealing with being under the sea, even though you really want the background to be Rapunzel’s Birthday Lights.
Aside from the lag issues, Disney Infinity also suffers from a few gameplay hiccups that can grow frustrating. The most notable one is that there is no on-screen prompt to show you have changed your character’s currently equipped weapon or pack. It can become frustrating when you are in the middle of a combat scenario and your attack button is currently being used to activate your character’s glide-pack. These little annoyances are by no means game-breaking, but they do happen often enough to bring down the overall experience.
Disney’s goal with DI was to create a game that not only mimicked the imagination and spark of playing with toys, but also allowed for the first time ever, all of their popular franchises to stand side-by-side. To make this possible, the characters have undergone some slight redesigns to allow them to occupy the same space.
Mr. Incredible can now stand side by side with Jack Sparrow, The Lone Ranger and Lightning McQueen and not a single one will look out of place. This is an incredible feat by Disney as in their recreations of these classic characters, none of their original defining features or the charm that comes along with them has been sacrificed. Although Tonto and Sully look like they belong next to each other, they are still distinctly Tonto and Sully.
Since everything in Disney Infinity is meant to be a toy of some sort or another, the art style chosen for the game works quite well. If there are any downsides to the way the game is presented, it is that the toy look strips away a lot of the detail that would otherwise be present. This looks well and as said before, all of the figures and toys look like they belong together, but it would have been nice to see a little more detail from some of the buildings and set pieces.
Part of the magic that is Disney has always been its characters. From their personalities to their designs and yes, especially their voices. Whenever a licensed game is released I am always really hesitant that voices are not going to match the source material. Luckily, Disney Infinity’s voice work is a real treat to listen to. Many of the film’s actors have returned to reprise their roles, while others are replaced with voice actors who sound so close to their counterparts that you will be arguing with your family about whether or not it is really Johnny Depp voicing Jack Sparrow (to solve some of those arguments; it isn’t, but he often sounds damn close).
The talent of the new actors is one thing, and they fit in well with seasoned veterans who have returned to the roles (some of which haven’t done so for years). Having Craig T. Nelson back as Mr Incredible is… well it is Incredible. The same goes for Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), John Ratzenberger (Hamm and Mack), Vincent Martella (Phineas) as well as all the rest. The voice vast both old and new really make this game a dream come true for Disney fans.
The music of Disney Infinity while great, doesn’t quite have the same charm. Much like the character designs and the figures themselves, the music has been tweaked from some of the more popular franchises to make the whole experience feel like a cohesive whole. The downside to that is that some of the memorable themes and tunes sit by the wayside. The most notable disappointment for me personally was that the famous “He’s A Pirate” was not a main music theme in the Pirates Play Set. It is a small detail, but anyone who knows Pirates of the Caribbean knows that tune, and its absence makes the experience seem a little shallower.
Disney Infinity uses a series of figures, power discs and play set pieces in order to unlock its content. In the starter pack you are given three figures; Mr. Incredible, Captain Jack Sparrow and James P. Sullivan. Other figures can be bought separately, and you will need to spend a bit of extra cash in order to experience all that the game has to offer.
For you older gamers out there, and even for the Disney or figurine collectors, these toys look outstanding on a shelf together. It is probably the best way to see how all of these characters you know and love are so elegantly recreated to look like they all belong together. The Lone Ranger is right at home standing next to Lightning McQueen, while the Incredibles all look fantastic side by side.
Alongside the figures are the Power Discs. Power Discs come in two varieties; hexagonal and circular. Hexagonal discs are used in the game’s Toy Box Mode and will introduce new items, new mounts and new texture packs for your worlds. Circular discs on the other hand are placed under the character figures and provide a buff to gameplay such as additional EXP or more damage to enemies. Your starter set will come pre-packed with one random disc, while others are purchased separately in blind packs of 2. With 20 discs available in the first-wave, you will need to buy a lot of packs before you have the whole set. The discs themselves are nice and solid, and big enough that they aren’t a choking hazard for small children. The artwork on them is really well done, and the rarer discs even have a lenticular hologram that makes them stand apart from the rest.
The Infinity Base, which comes with the starter set, and allows the game to read the figures and discs placed is rather well built. It doesn’t feel like it will break or snap if handled too roughly. However it will sometimes have trouble reading what is placed on it. I spent a good fifteen minutes fighting with my infinity base over my Violet figure, as it deemed it to be an incompatible character with The Incredibles Play Set. Other problems are that it will constantly re-read the discs, causing any character-buff power disc to disappear and reappear in game. The problems are almost always solved by unplugging the base from its USB power supply and then plugging it back in, but the fact that it isn’t a one-off occurrence means you will quickly get frustrated at the device.
Disney Infinity is a game that manages to capture your heart and imagination no matter how old you are. If you have ever seen a Disney movie, or played with toys as a kid then you will find something here to love. Disney has worked hard to keep the magic from their films alive and well, while presenting them in a new format. Everything from the character designs to the voice acting is outstanding, and the absolute sheer depth of content is staggering. Whether you are 8, or 88 you will be able to spend an infinte amount of time building, creating, playing and sharing your creations. Sadly, the game’s really noticeable lag and frequent problems with the infinity base really dampen the experience, as does the price you will be required to pay if you want to experience everything the game has to offer. Regardless, Disney Infinity is a must-have for kids, kids at heart, and Disney Fans everywhere.
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