For almost 90 years, the Walt Disney Company has inspired the hearts and minds of millions. Chances are, if you have seen at least ONE movie in your lifetime, it was a Disney movie. Each of their creations features memorable characters and fantastic settings.
But for some reason, Disney’s video games have never quite been able to capture the same magic that is instilled in us through their films. This had changed with the release of the Kingdom Hearts series back in 2002. Still, outside of that franchise, Disney Interactive has continued to net financial losses ranking in the BILLIONS since 2008 due to lack luster titles. Thus, Disney has placed all of their hope in their newest property, hoping to finally capture that special Disney magic in the video game medium. This property is the highly anticipated DISNEY INFINITY!
Disney Infinity takes a cue from Activision’s financial success, Skylanders, in that it combines play between physical figurines and a video game world. Each figure represents a different Disney character with their own unique powers and abilities to use in-game. These powers range from the super strength of Mr. Incredible, to the swashbuckling swordplay of CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow!
Disney made quite a few promises with this game, with functions ranging from fun story modes for each franchise, alongside the expansive “TOY BOX” mode. The honest question on everyone’s mind is, does this game live up to the hype?
In a single word, YES!
From the moment I started up the intro portion of the game, I knew I was in for a treat. Instantly, I felt that Disney Magic I was missing from games of years past. The game creates a world around you, using “sparks of imagination” and shows the player that with just a little imagination, you can create VAST and interesting worlds just on a whim. With every step you take, you are introduced to the vast possibilities available to you in Disney Infinity, from the characters and set pieces, to the varied options of gameplay. One moment, you are fighting alongside Mr. Incredible defeating Omnidroids in Metro City, and the next you are racing against Lightning McQueen and Jessie the Cowgirl for the Piston Cup!
Disney set out to make an incredible game to help expand one’s mind and make the player THINK and create a world of their own through the Disney Infinity “TOY BOX.” But this game is not quite what it appears. At first, I had assumed it was a way to amalgamate every Disney franchise into a single beautiful world. However, this is not the case. Instead of playing as Captain Jack Sparrow or the Incredibles, instead you play as TOYS of these characters. This entire premise makes one think of how, as a child, one would take their favorite toys and action figures and imagine any scenario they wanted. Now you can recreate those scenarios HERE, within the world of Disney Infinity!
The “Toy Box” is very akin to the Halo “Forge” mode or Little Big Planet, in that you can create and add features to a given world and make it your own. One can use items called “creativitoys” and link them together to create different effects or games. One example of linking these toys together allows the player to create their own game types or recreate classic games. A few such examples include pinball and Donkey Kong.
The player is given a limited variety of tools to create their world, which gives the player all the more incentive to explore the prepackaged story modes that come with the Disney Infinity starter set. By playing through the story missions and completing certain objectives, one slowly gains the ability to unlock new “Toy Box” toys from the INFINITY VAULT.
The starter set includes three figures and three story modes, one for each figure. It also comes with the Disney Infinity base, which connects the figurines to your system, and one random Disney Infinity Power Disc.
The figures are insanely detailed and beautifully capture the essence of each character they represent. While the characters originally come from all different design aesthetics, they are merged beautifully into a single art style in Disney Infinity. While Captain Jack Sparrow was originally a live action character, he seems right at home standing next to Sully from Monsters University.
The game’s story mode comes in what is referred to as a “play set.” Keeping with the toy-oriented theme, the “play sets” are meant exclusively for a specific figure. “Play sets” act as a sort of story mode that allows one to embark on an adventure revolving around that specific world.
But unlike most movie based games, these stories are not slaves to the source material. Instead, they take the general atmosphere and feeling of those worlds and create a new adventure all its own.
Another aspect of the story modes I’d like to talk about is the variety. Considering how many characters and worlds that Disney can make “play sets” for, it would be easy for them to re-skin a basic story mode for different worlds and pass it off as a game. But NO! Disney went the extra mile and made each story mode unique in its own way. The Pirates of the Caribbean “play set” feels like an action adventure beat ‘em up with Assassin’s Creed 3 style naval battles thrown in. And when I say they are like A.C. 3, I mean they are DEAD ON exactly the same, which is glorious! The Incredibles “play set” comes off as a sandbox superhero game, much like Prototype. And strangely enough, Monsters University is a stealth shooter. Yet all of these play types fit the stories each set tries to tell and make for engaging and memorable gameplay.
The Disney Infinity Power Discs are another great improvement upon the toy/game paradigm started by Skylanders. Skylanders featured small “extra” figurines that provided bonus power-ups and abilities to your characters. The Power Discs operate in a similar fashion but with a few added bonuses. There are 3 varieties to these Power Discs.
The first kind of disc provides your character with in-game bonuses, such as extra health or attack bonuses that can even be accessed during the story modes.
The second kind gives the player access to new weapons and vehicles not found through in-game progression. These items are only useable in the Disney Infinity “Toy Box.”
The last kind of disc is quite special. These discs provide new in-game textures and background effects to the “Toy Box” environment. By using these discs, you can change the entire appearance of your map from that of the candy coated world of Sugar Rush, to the beautiful lantern lit sky of Tangled.
This game offers so much content that it honestly makes Skylanders look like a cheap, no effort knock off by comparison. Between the fun story missions, the ever-expanding options within the “Toy Box,” and the novelty of the collectibles, I can honestly say that this game captures every speck of the Disney magic I know and love.
-The gameplay is extensive and varied
-The toys are highly detailed and beautifully designed
-The attention to detail and sheer number of bonus content offered throughout the game is staggering
-Creative mode is intuitive and tutorials communicate explanations expertly
-Camera can be finicky at times
-Hefty price tag