Disney Infinity Review
Addictively fun but could be dangerously expensive.
Author: Jeff McAllister
After its release, and once the initial skepticism passed, Skylanders — the experimental amalgam of collectible toys and videogames — proved to be a huge success for Activision and demonstrated that there was massive money to be made with the idea. Disney Infinity has taken the same approach as Skylanders did, except instead of creating entirely new characters that no one has ever heard of, Disney already has an exceptionally popular stable of characters at their disposal to pull from, making it an absolutely incredible and endless pairing between toys and videogames for players of all ages.
With the Disney Infinity Starter pack (which, as of writing this, is the only way to get the game disc), you will receive a copy of the game, plus the figures of Captain Jack Sparrow (from Pirates of the Caribbean), Sully (from Monsters Inc. and Monsters University), and Mr. Incredible (from The Incredibles). To use the three figures in their own individual worlds, you are also given their three respective play sets as well. Finally, to be able to use each of the items contained within the kit, you are given a USB-powered interactive base onto which to place the figures and the play set sit on.
Surprisingly, the figures included are solid and well built. The toys have a heft to them that belie any thought of them being cheaply-made, and the uniformed styled visage of each character makes them seem as though they belong within the same universe. The figures are impressive — but sadly the play set pieces are inopportunely hollow transparent plastic lacking in any real aesthetic.
The base itself is a flat hexagon with two circles that light up and twinkle when figures are to be placed on it, as well as a smaller hexagon for the play sets that also light up and shine through the transparent. The base and its lights are curiously appealing during the times it activates and reacts to what is happening in-game, however the cable on the USB base is rather short and having interchangeable objects you can’t reach without having to get up and trudge across the room (or get an extension USB cable) to swap them out is kind of a bummer.
With the physical items out of the way, the actual game itself is a wonderland of gameplay styles and activities to take part in. The game is split up into two main sections: the play sets and the Toy Box. The play sets are actual items that need to be purchased and placed on the base to use. Once placed, they can only interact with characters that belong to that play set. For example, the Pirates of the Caribbean play set can only be used with the Captain Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones, and/or Barbossa.
Each play set features its own gameplay; complete with missions, collectibles, and unlockables that can be used in the Toy Box. The Pirates play set features a town that you run around, completing missions and finding crew members, eventually allowing you to set sail on the high seas in a fashion not dissimilar to that found in Assassins Creed III–albeit more childlike.
Activating Sully lets you take on tasks around the Monsters University, such as scaring, sneaking, and using various items to play pranks on the neighboring school. Mr. Incredible focuses on physical combat and punches his way through enemies thrown at you by the main enemy, Syndrome. All three play sets offer hours of stuff to do and complete, and all —while similar in having the player collect items and face challenges—are different enough that playing one doesn’t feel at all like the others.
The other side of the gameplay is the Toy Box that can be accessed with any of the characters, no matter what franchise or movie they are from. The Toy Box allows you to create whatever landscape or game type you choose—be it a racing game, a combat arena, or anything else you can think of, by using an editor to place objects such as hills, buildings, tracks, activation points, enemies, etc. wherever you choose.
It does get rather complicated when you delve deeper into what can be done with all of the different Toy Box pieces you can have and the actions you can perform– but there are several tutorials for the editor and they do a fairly good job of explaining what you need to know to get started. It will take a lot of experimenting, but there are tons of additional items that can be unlocked from the play sets to experiment with. There are even additional items you can win by earning “spins”, and then visiting the Toy Box Vault where you randomly unlock items.
To help add some diversity to the play sets and characters, there are “Power Discs” which can be placed underneath the items on the base to add new attributes to the characters and areas. The only disc to which I had access was that of “Bolt”– the scrappy puppy from the movie of the same name — which increased the damage dealt by each character it was used under.
The play set discs I had allowed you access to Mickey Mouse’s car and Abu the Elephant while within the Toy Box to drive and ride around on. The Power Discs are sold in opaque packages with two play set items and one character attribute to a pack — the tricky part being that with the more packs you purchase and collect, the higher the chances of buying duplicates will be.
Although the Power Discs are on the cheap side at $5 a pack, other items for the game are not. There should be a huge warning label on the front of the packaging, aimed at parent’s wallets everywhere that it’s going to get a little pricey down the road. The initial starter kit — which includes the game, base, and figures — is $75. From there, each additional figure is $13 (or $30 for a 3-Pack). To add extra play sets to your game, you’re looking at $35 per play set, though each also comes with two additional figures. The prices aren’t abhorrently unreasonable for what you’re getting, but it can add up real quick.
Disney Infinity has something for people of all ages. If one play set doesn’t do it for you, you can just swap it out for another and have hours of playtime in a different setting. As a thirty-something-year-old, I didn’t expect much from the gameplay– but hours later, I was still playing– completing quest after quest within the Pirates play set, which held my interest more than the other two play sets. With all the properties Disney owns– which include Marvel Comics, the Star Wars Universe, and even the Muppets– the possibilities for future additions to the game are mind-boggling, and hold great promise for what is already a great platform.
Title: Disney Infinity