We all called it. Back when Disney purchased some little known franchise from some bloke called Lucas, we all said imagine Star Wars Infinity. Fast Forward 3 years and our idle speculation has become a reality.
Toys-to-life franchises tend to split people into three groups, those that love the idea and have to collect all of the toys to make the most of the games, those that think that the games are incomplete with gloriously expensive DLC (would you pay £30 for a level and £12.50 for a character on any other game?) and the third group who can’t really make up their mind as to which of the first two groups they fall into.
Personally, I fall into the 2nd group for most of these types of franchises, I’m not a fan of Skylanders, I’ve listened to the Year of Shame Challenge and see what Amiibos can do to your health and wellbeing and although I love Lego, I’m old school Lego where you get a box of generic bricks and make something with your imagination not what a manual tells you to.
The one exception to this rule, and I’m sure having two Disney mad kids aids my feelings on this, is Disney Infinity. The only problem I found with Infinity was it was a bit lacking. The game and playsets didn’t really feel like a complete game and the figures felt like a plastic shell cash grab. Would 3.0 make a leap towards making the franchise more worthwhile and fulfilling?
After so many years of existence I’m sure you all now the concept of toys to life by now but in brief – The game is a straightforward third person action game similar in all aspects to an older childs movie tie in – think less Peppa Pig more Wreck it Ralph – now imagine that you can purchase characters that have nothing to do with said movie and play with them in the game, now think Wreck it Ralph helping Peppa Pig. The big gimmick is that you are actually buying real life toys which you can place on a base where they come to life in the game.
As previously mentioned, these toys average around £15 per figure, although you can get some deals in your local supermarkets occasionally. You can also buy “playsets” for about £30 which are in fact an extension of the game in miniature form, which normally add about 2-5 hours extra gameplay. This soon adds up and although 3.0 does try and ease this a little by offering a game only pack if you already have a base if you bought everything that was released on day one, you would have spent £420 (2 playsets, 23 characters and a solus game pack) – ouch.
The first two titles were riddled with problems and bugs. The biggest being the first wouldn’t let you play co-op unless you bought extra figures and the second was a major bug fest which felt shallow and rushed to meet the Christmas market. Disney Infinity 3.0, thankfully, addresses all of these issues and is starting to reach the potential that the franchise had.
The first games theme was only really “Disney” whilst the second jumped onto the Marvel franchise. This year, as expected, is all about Star Wars as the world of Skywalker and friends adopt the cartoony Infinity style. This fits the Clone Wars Playset quite well with us old gamers maybe looking a little further into the future when the Empire playset is released with Luke and Leia figures.
3.0 is literally head and shoulders above the previous iterations with the combat now feeling tight, characters movement now feels less floaty and blocking and dodging in combat is essential; It feels how a video game should feel. You have to keep in mind that Infinity is certainly aimed at a younger audience and as such it’s not a complex beast with the basic skill upgrades being shared by all characters with the occasional unique move or combination sprinkled here and there.
The side quests remain a little repetitive and the few puzzles there are seem a little too easy and were picked up far too quickly by my two little rugrats. On the flip side its nice not to here “DAAAAAAAAAAD I’M STUUUUUCK” every five minutes. The other small issue that some may shirk at initially is that there are only two, very similar, characters in the box this year rather than the normal three.
A quick hands on with the figures instantly shows that it is quality rather than quantity with the figures this year. They actually feel like they have a little depth. The easiest way to explain the difference is that it is all about what isn’t there rather than what is. Anger from Inside Outs mouth is a gaping chasm that you can actually put your finger in rather than a solid piece of plastic with a mouth painted on. The hulk buster figure has gaps and spaces in between the metal plates rather than be a solid lump. The little things like this make a difference.
The most interesting part for me is the Toy Box Mode which is like an all new game within the game. Toy Box Mode is a cross between Little Big Planet and Minecraft with a great big Disney logo painted on the side. It actively encourages players to make their own stages, levels and different play areas. These can range from simple “Simon Says” musical levels right up to the Splatoon inspired Squid wars as you run around a similar level design covering as much of it in your squids coloured ink. Let’s not forget the Mario Kart inspired Toybox Takeover race car minigame as your characters get vehicles inspired by their own franchise.
With a new sidekick system which allows you train up a mini-me version of your figures which can in turn heal you or buff your combat abilities and the new Interiors mode which acts like an Animal Crossing style house which you can fill with Disney Movie memorabilia of your choice you have plenty to keep bringing you back – after you have bought a couple new characters of course.
As a parent this is something I don’t want to admit, and if you are a parent you won’t want to hear, but Disney Infinity is probably the most improved sequel I have ever played. Disney Infinity can now certainly compete with the big boys of Nintendo and Skylanders and although your wallet is going to take a brutal hammering at least you are getting a decent game out of it now.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 8.5/10 Format: Xbox One/Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4 Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Disney Infinity by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.