It is almost too easy. With the success of Skylanders, it was only a matter of time before the next plastic add-on craze came along. Meshing toys and games lends infinite possibilities (I am still waiting on that Transformers portal Activision), and Disney is the first company to come along and challenge the open market. Disney Infinity is a brilliant idea on paper. Take some of the world’s most well-known characters, and sell toys that become game characters. It’s perfect. Still this initial effort leaves a lot to be desired, with a realm of possibilities still in waiting.
For this review we were sent a starter pack along with one pack of power discs (I will explain those in a minute). The starter set comes with three characters, the portal and three play sets (essentially themed game experiences). These characters are Sully (Monsters Inc.), Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles) and each of their accompanying play sets from those franchises. Each game feels different with The Incredibles focusing on a more open-world superhero-type experience, while Pirates focuses on boat exploration and combat. It is a nice variety right out of the gate.
What bothers me right out of the box was the lack of a way to play local co-op. Each character and playset is exclusive to that world. So I can’t bring Jack Sparrow into Monsters Inc. or vice versa. This meant I had to go out and buy a $30 triple pack of character figures so my wife and I could play the game together. Buying the three pack was the obvious choice considering these bad boys are $14 individually, and I knew we would want to play around with all the games.
The toys themselves are extremely well-made. I actually put my collection on display in between sessions. They are a touch larger than standard Skylanders, and have a solid weight to them. I feel like I could let me three-year old handle them without worry of him breaking them. They are also really well designed. Play sets are also sold separately, and for the review I picked up the Cars one to see how it worked. They come with two characters (for co-op) and around 4-6 hours of game play for $40, which feels like expensive DLC.
Still this is what sets Infinity apart from its competition. Each play set or world feels unique. I am excited for when new play sets launch later this year, including the Toy Story one. I find them overpriced, but I will also likely pick them up just to toy around in those worlds.
Characters all have levels and earn XP throughout their play sets. Learning new moves is as simple as creating buildings within their world to learn them, or finding boxes containing the moves. Leveling up really serves no purpose outside of collecting spins for the Toy Box. This allows players to earn new items, and becomes a grind fest after a while. Each character also has a specific challenge tied to it, but nothing revolutionary.
Probably the best feature Infinity has going for it though is the Toy Box. This one part Minecraft, one part LittleBigPlanet brings the real feel of Disney out of the game. Being able to create worlds and mini-games, not to mention download new ones from other users is pretty awesome. This is also where so much of that Disney love comes into play. Seeing Cinderella’s carriage or plastering Little Nemo designs brings out the kid in me. There is also a TON to unlock and use within the Toy Box. A lot can be found within play sets, but there is also the concept of power discs, which I am not a fan of.
The creation tools are intuitive enough that anyone can create simple things, while deep enough that I am excited to see what crops up down the road. It is also cool that downloading creations is not tied to one console. Wii U owners can share with 360 owners and so on. Same with figures, they are cross-platform meaning I could carry my progress from my version to a friend’s version even if we are not on the same console.
Power discs are sold similar to baseball cards, in random packs. They come in quantities of two, and I never knew what I might end up with. I snagged one with the review copy which had Mulan’s horse and Cinderella’s carriage, while the one I purchased came with the old man’s cane from Up, and Alladin’s elephant (which happened to be a hologram, supposedly those are rare). As ridiculous and disgusting as I find this practice, they are cheap enough that I wanted to buy more to see what I would unlock. Even if I never use them, I can’t help myself. Bravo Disney, you nailed that aspect.
I want to love Disney Infinity more than I do. I think a lot of my issues stem from the high price barrier to entry, and a lack of classic characters. Out of the five play sets available at launch, most of them are fairly recent properties. When/if a Star Wars or Marvel pack lands I won’t be able to resist, and of course the already announced Toy Story needs my attention, but what happened to Mickey? The classic crews? These are all locked into Toy Box; I just hope they don’t stay there.
Disney Infinity looks OK for a current gen game, but it also suffers frame rate issues, especially in co-op mode. The world designs can be great, and sometimes lacking such as the case with the Monsters Inc. play set. I really enjoyed the Cars one, and I would love to check out the Lone Ranger as I have heard good things about it despite its license ills. The soundtrack and voice acting is top-notch. I am pretty certain they got most of the original actors back from the main characters, which is fantastic.
Disney Infinity is a huge gamble that could pay off over time. As of now it is a massive money sink that can be hard to recommend, especially to those already so invested in that “other” toy game. Still, having the stable of characters and licenses Disney has, it has the potential to be something special. I would like to see a release on next-gen to clean up some of the performance issues, especially since my toys should carry over. Only time will tell, but for over $100 just for my wife and I to enjoy it together, I suggest knowing what you are getting into before taking the (expensive) plunge.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.