Disney has released the third iteration of its Infinity “Toys to life” videogame series, and version 3.0 is easily the most aggressive – and arguably the best – of the lot.
This isn’t just because it includes a ton of Star Wars characters or that its Toy Box mode is even better than it was in version 2.0. No, it’s because with it includes a veritable barrage of new figurines to collect, and they are just incredible.
Each of the new Disney Infinity toys are beautifully crafted; they’re lovely to hold and look at and – more importantly – they’re exactly the kind of thing kids will bug their parents for. Furthermore, if you’re into toy collecting, they’re like catnip, designed to foster a desire – a need to buy them all.
So if you’re either a parent of small children or something of an otaku when it comes to figurines you’re likely cursing Disney for this. Each figurine costs R199, and there are over 30 of the little sods to collect because Disney has chosen to milk as many of its iconic franchises as possible. Oh, and you’ll have to buy those only after you’ve shelled out for the “Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Kit”, which will set you back about R799.
It’s a money-printing scheme by everyone’s favourite family entertainment powerhouse, designed to separate you from your money using your kids – or your collector’s gene – as the crowbar.
While we (admittedly) resent Disney somewhat for doing this, two facts remain: it’s a brilliant idea, plus the game’s actually quite good even when judged on its its mechanics and production values alone.
Disney Infinity 3.0: Starter Kit
In the Starter Kit you need to purchase – the same one we review here – you’ll receive the Infinity Base that connects to your console with a USB cable, and two figurines – Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. [WHAT ELSE?]
Once the game is booted up, players have a ton of options. They can play through the Twilight of the Republic campaign – a third-person action game set in the Star Wars universe that clocks in at roughly six-hours – or they can fire up the Toy Box, a freeform content-creator mode that allows them turn their imaginations loose on the game’s landscape.
Then there are Play Sets, a series meticulously well made sub-games based on several popular Disney franchises including Marvel, Pixar and the company’s iconic characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald and the rest of the gang.
Some of the Play-Sets can only be accessed if you place specific characters on the Infinity Base, which means – you guessed it – buying the required figurines first. Disney will also offer additional Play Sets for purchase in future, to the surprise of absolutely no-one.
The Toy Box is where the “Infinity” in the game’s title justifies itself – you can make your own content here, play the default content or try out some player-created levels downloaded from the internet, giving you access to pretty much endless entertainment.
For this version, Disney has included pretty good tutorials that do a great job of introducing new players to the game’s concepts. To access them, simply talk to the characters you encounter in the Toy Box mode, as they often have mini-games for you to try that help to get the game’s core concepts across.
Disney Infinity 3.0: Quality and quantity
Disney has also tinkered with the modes that compliment Toy Box, which were rather lightweight in previous iterations. Disney Infinity 3.0’s campaign is pretty meaty’ it’s set just after the events of Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and follows Anakin, Ahsoka, Yoda and Obi-wan pursuing the nefarious forces who reactivated the Droid factory on the planet Geonosis.
Since this is a game featuring ightsabre-and-gun-wielding Jedis and Sith, there’s a lot of fighting. While the combat itself isn’t particularly bloody (and is thus child-friendly), the fighting system itself is incredibly deep as it’s based on the combat from the Force Unleashed games.
This isn’t a button-masher; it actually requires some skill and dedication on the player’s part. As a result the game is challenging but fun, and the combo system that lets you change your attack on the fly is particularly satisfying to master.
The levels contain quite a bit of variety in terms of their visuals and design; you’ll visit three planets with three completely different environments – the high-tech cityscapes of Naboo, the semi-civilized dusty landscape of Coruscant and the deserts of Tatooine . All of them look delightfully cartoony and offer plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
Unfortunately (depending on how you feel about him), you’ll also meet Jar Jar Binks on Naboo, and yes, he’s as irritating as always and no, you can’t kill him. Missed opportunity, I say.
Defeated enemies drop coloured ‘Spark’ orbs, the game’s currency, which comes in four different colours. Blue Spark is used to unlock new Toy Box items, Green Spark restores health, Purple Spark fills the power meter enabling your characters to pull off special moves and Orange Spark earns you bonus experience points with which you can upgrade your character’s abilities.
With so much money being thrown at it and the development being handled by veterans Avalanche Studios (the guys behind the Just Cause games), Disney Infinity plays like a top-notch videogame. I really can’t stress enough just how polished it is, not to mention fun, especially with a second player, which turns the game into a split-screen co-op adventure.
Disney Infinity 3.0: Bringing toys to life
If you’ve never played a game oft this type, you simply drop a figurine onto the Base and – hey, presto! – the character appears on the screen. It’s a system that lends itself to drop-in/drop-out play and it makes things a synch to swap between characters on the fly – there’s no need here to open a menu. .
If you have a second controller, dropping the second character onto the platform begins a local multiplayer game, which is fantastic for parents who want to play with their kids.
They also serve saving device, storing unlocks, progress and customisation on the figurine itself. This effectively makes the figurines a portable save file; kids can take their toys to a friend’s houses, plop it onto the Infinity Base, and resume where they left off; as long as their friends’ game is on the same platform.
The feature fans of the franchise will likely enjoy the most, is backwards compatibility. All figurines from Disney Infinity and Disney Infinity 2.0 will work with 3.0, so don’t worry, your old toys aren’t obsolete.
There’s genuinely a lot of game here, so if it’s value for money you’re after or a game that could potentially occupy your kids for an entire school holiday, you won’t be disappointed.
Disney Infinity 3.0: Not quite perfect
There are, though, a few issues with the game. Because some Play Sets require specific characters to unlock – an additional purchase – you’re locked behind a paywall, to a degree. It’s fine if you’re flush with cash, but for gamers who save and save just to get the Starter Kit, that paywall is going to feel a bit unfair.
Sure, you can get a lot of fun out of just the Starter Kit and the main campaign is fantastic, but Disney wants you to want more, and Disney Infinity 3.0 accomplishes this almost too well.
The game’s appeal is such that should you take the first step and buy
yourself your kids a Starter Kit, you’ll inevitably be tempted, if not outright blackmailed by your nearest and dearest into buying more figurines and Play Sets for the game.
There are over 30 to choose from right now, with more planned, so be warned – the Infinity in the title could potentially also apply to the money the game will siphon from your wallet.
Disney Infinity: Conclusion
Ultimately, though, Disney Infinity 3.0 is most definitely worth your time and cash if you’re want a great way to introduce your kids to Disney’s multitude of franchise – or get them into Star Wars without having to watch the terrible prequels.
Misgivings about Disney’s clear intention to milk all of its franchises for everything they’re worth aside, Avalanche has created an amazing game. The campaign is great, the mechanics are deep (for a game of this type) and Toy Box mode is the best it’s ever been offering almost limitless creative possibilities.