Game Review: Disney Infinity

DI_Logo

Disney Infinity

Release Date: August 18, 2013
Developer: Avalanche Software
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Genre:
Adventure / Sandbox
Plataform: PS3 / 360 / Wii U / Wii / 3DS / Mobile / PC

Lets face it: everyone is a Disney fan! I honestly won’t believe you if you say that at one point of your life you weren’t touched by Disney’s unique way of telling stories. Whether by their characters, art, animations, parks, shows, songs or even by Mickey himself. I bet you have experienced that “magic” and, if you are a human full of emotions, you probably fell in love too.

And finally the big day arrives for all of those Disney lovers: the big release of Disney Infinity, a game that – as Disney – is everywhere. Or at least in almost all platforms. The player can find it on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo WiiU – as the main console version – or even on Nintendo 3DS, following more as a “Mario Party” gameplay style. Nintendo Wii also received the game for its platform, though with fewer features, such as the absence of a co-op experience in the Play Set part of the game. And if it wasn’t enough, players can also experience Disney Infinity on PC and iOS devices, offering the options to build, edit and share all of your toy box experiments at any time.

For the ones who still don’t know, the game allows players to share their creations on ANY PLATFORM. It doesn’t matter if you are a Nintendo player, you can easily share your Toy Box with an user that plays on PlayStation 3, for example.

WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE

Disney Infinity it is not just one game, it’s a game within a game. Imagine that you have the opportunity to go back to your childhood and you are gifted with an amazing and colorful Toy Box. All you need to do is to drop all of these items on the floor and start to build your own dreams. You can do “anything”, you just need to use a spark of your imagination. Who never imagined making the boring Winnie the Pooh do a quick visit to Cruella de Vil‘s house? Well, maybe not! Who would want to do such a thing, right? *cough cough*

The point is: while the game offers original Play Sets with original adventure experiences related to the character’s Universe, it also offers a second game mode in which it is YOU who have freedom to create whatever you want, in the way that you want, to finally share with your friends and see how they will react whitin your creations. This concept allows the game to attract an even wider audience. Whether you are a big fan of the movies, or adventure games, or even if you are just a crazy action figure collector person like myself, you will always find people getting trapped inside this expensive cycle. So, by following this philosophy I will write this review in a different way than usual: find the category that best fits you and read this review. (Or, you might just read it all, since I lost loads of time writing it! LOL)

DISNEY INFINITY FOR GAMERS

First of all, Disney Infinity is not Skylanders. The only thing similar between both games is the Base that allows to have figures being “scanned” inside the game. But besides that, the games are totally different. It’s almost like trying to compare Assassin’s Creed with Watch Dogs, because both use basically the same control scheme. Anyway…

By purchasing the Starter Pack the player will receive three characters/figures – Jack Sparrow, Sulley and Mr. Incredible – and a Play Set with their unique worlds. Play Sets are a piece that contains the whole Universe of a specific group of characters. The player needs to place this piece on top of the Disney Infinity Base – that comes in the Starter Pack – to finally be able to access this Universe. Within the Play Set, players also needs to place their characters on the DI Base, so they can be brought to “life” into the game.

Each Play Set delivers a complete open world campaign experience – based on the Play Set theme – full of objectives and collectables. Because of the theme related experience, the players can only use the characters that are part of that Universe. So, if you want to play, for example, in The Incredibles’ Metro City, you will need to use Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, Dash, Violet or Syndrome. But if you want to use different characters from different Disney Worlds, you will only be able to do it by playing in the Toy Box. And that’s the good news: there is a secret Big Vault in each one of the Play Sets, that can only be opened if you use all of the characters from that Universe. By opening it you will be rewarded with an already designed Toy Box of that specific Play Set. So you and your friends can play together, without the restriction of only being able to use characters of that specific universe. Finally, there are also unique items to unlock in the Toy Box that can only be found in specific Play Sets.

Gameplay wise Play Sets also offers different types of gaming mechanics and experiences. Although all of them follows for an open world adventure idea, each one of the Play Sets focus more on a different concept. Monster University is all about pranks, scares and competing. They even have a school points scale, that reminds me the whole idea of House’s competition in Harry Potter series. LOL. Pirates of the Caribbean introduces swordplay combats, ship battles and even ship customization. Yeah, you can customize your own ship! And, finally, The Incredibles gives you loads of melee combat, with super powers and small missions around Metro City.

Each Play Set can take around 5 to 7 hours to complete, plus the hours that you will spend by searching for all unlockable items. Since the Starter Pack comes with 3 Play Sets, you can easily calculate 15 to 21 hours of experience to complete the whole game of this first wave. Of course the player can always place a new character and search for all the specific missions and items related to that character, increasing even more their gameplay.

Not everything is perfect, though. Even offering different mechanics, story lines, environments and experience, all the starter play sets end up giving the feeling of lack of something. The stories are not very strong – compared to the original movies – and the missions tend to not vary too much, differing only on basic mechanics, for the same theme/idea. But don’t get me wrong! I am not saying that the game, or these Play Sets, are bad. They are actually very good. But not perfect, you know? I was actually quite surprise with The Incredibles in specific, because I felt like they had a bigger variance of characters vs. powers, compared to Pirates of the Caribbean for instance. But on the other hand, in the Pirates Play Set I found that the universe looked bigger, and with more stuff to do, while the characters themselves were almost the same.

Regarding the controls, while the Nintendo Wii U seemed to be the best option to play the game – considering that the player could easily use the gamepad to navigate through the items, objectives and menus – if the player decides to play on Co-Op, the only controller that will actually work for the second player is the Wii Remote. This kind of sucks, considering that it’s a mess to move and rotate the camera, or even to use special attacks etc. Luckily Disney already announced that they will soon release a patch giving support to the Pro Controller as well. Besides that, all controllers are pretty easy to learn and it seems to be very intuitive, even with loads of options to do.

Finally, if you are a gamer who loves to create your own Worlds, quests and stories, the best game mode for you will definitely be the Toy Box.

The Toy Box is this empty environment/level to be filled up with your imagination, using the items you collected in the game. By playing the main campaigns – or the characters specific Adventures – and leveling up your character, the player is rewarded with Spins. Spins can also be found in capsules, around other pre-made Toy Boxes. Those Spins can be used in the Toy Box Vault which randomly rewards the player with one item, out of 16, per spin. Every time that you want to increase the number of items to use in your Toy Box, you will need to rely on your luck and in your progression with Spins. The other option, of course, is to collect those items around each one of the Play Sets, as I said before.

It is not hard to create your own adventures, but it might require a little bit of patience. You just need to change between pages of categories and items, and finally place it on the environment. You have the option to rotate and move those pieces until you achieve the best spot for your adventure. To change textures or even to delete something, you can use the Magic Wand that offers more options to the player. There are also items that help you to quickly change the sky just by pressing a button, as well as to spawn new enemies etc. But talking about “patience” one more time, what I found a little bit frustrating is the low speed between menus and items. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I decide to move from gameplay mode, to building mode, it drives me crazy because of the delay between options.

Triggers, events box and links can also be used in the Toy Box. if you are familiar with some Game Engines such as UDK or Unity, you will find that to “script” the events on Disney Infinity is very easy. Players can connect special items together and give them basic rules. You can easily link a button that, when pressed, will activate fireworks, open doors, start a song or spawn new objects or enemies. There are even cameras to unlock in the Toy Box Vault that allows you to change from top-down to side-scrolling games. And the character will also follow this pattern while locked inside this camera mode. It’s awesome! And, the best part is that for the new players, the game also offers tutorials teaching the basic mechanics of the triggers and objects.

After creating your own Toy Box, you can easily share it online between your friends, or even send to Disney to wait for a review. If approved, your Toy Box can be downloaded directly from their Original Database. Players can play any toy box in any of the platforms.

So, if you are included in the GAMER category that I said before, I would recommend Disney Infinity if you like an easy-to-play adventure experience, with building and customization options. If you are a big fan of Little Big Planet and Minecraft you will probably love this game.

DISNEY INFINITY FOR FANS

It’s pretty clear how much love the effort the team put into this game. Disney Infinity was made by Fans for Fans. Each one of the Play Sets features a whole new storyline in parallel with the original one shown in the movies. And it was confirmed that Avalanche Software and Disney worked directly with Pixar to make these storylines as good and complete as the ones seen in theatres. It might have not succeed 100% – as I said earlier in this review – but it was pretty close to it.

You can easily recognize the personality of each one of your favourite characters. The voice acting is stunning and the animations make them be extremely alive. It’s nice to have the option to see how their lives existed after the movies and how we have total control on top of that now.

Right in the beginning of the game the player can experience one of the most beautiful introductions I have ever see in a game. All the first part is actually playable – and without spoilers – you will learn the first mechanics and controls, and also be enchanted with the beautiful Universe that Infinity is part of. All the possibilities are introduced right there, and it just make us, fans, even more excited to start building everything that we always dreamed as well.

As a fan, if there is a negative point in the game I would say that it is the lack of classic characters. Of course this problem can easily be solved soon, in the next wave of characters and Play Sets. But the thing is, as much as I love Monsters University, The Incredibles, Cars or any of other Pixar movies, I really miss the classic characters from the first Disney animations. Where is Simba? What about Ariel, Mulan or Pocahontas? One Play Set about Aladdin would be amazing as well, you know? I understand that the developers can add it, if they decide to, but I really don’t get why there was a lack of this content for the first wave of the game. I just hope they are not planning to do only Play Sets related to Pixar movies…

DISNEY INFINITY FOR COLLECTORS

Now comes the best part – And also the most expensive one! If you are a crazy collector like me, you finally found the perfect game. Man, no words describes how well done each of the figures are. The quality is amazing! Their unique poses represents perfectly each one of the characters and all that I want is to buy them all, even if I don’t end up playing the game anymore or bankrupting myself in the process.

And if it wasn’t enough, everything related to Disney Infinity comes in waves, bundles, accessories and pieces. You will not only collect figures, but also Power Discs, albums and cases. To have the most powerful character, or the most complete Toy Box, the player can add Power Discs on top of the DI Base, to increase a character’s stats, or add tools and characteristics to your own Toy Box.

For the first wave of items, there are 20 official Power Discs – 3 of them are rare pieces – while stores like Toys R Us and GameStop have their own exclusive Power Discs as well. So, if you decide to have all figures and all Discs, expect to spend at least 200 hundred dollars, if not more.

Knowing about this huge marketing, Disney Infinity created a special feature inside the game that they call the Hall of Fame. Every character or Power Disc that the player purchased and unlocked in the game will appear in this Hall of Fame as a physical statue. The statue can vary from Bronze, Silver to Gold, according to the level experience of the character. The Hall of Fame constantly evolves, growing walls, celling, flowers etc. It’s a very beautiful and stunning experience to face. And you end up having your original figures in hand, but also inside the game.

So, if this review is for you – a collector – don’t think twice and go buy your figures. Take zillions pictures of them. Place it inside protection cases – available from all major retailers for a small cost – and show it to your friends or enemies, so they can envy you too. LOL. Yeah, it’s awesome and I love it! And since Disney knows exactly how to sell more dreams, a new wave of characters are coming soon, with new Play Sets. You will be able to find characters such as Rapunzel, Skeleton Jack, Woody etc.

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

Disney Infinity has everything going for it to be one of the biggest hits for the ending of this generation of video games. It’s a game that allows for the mixing of any type of genre, with the ability to create anything that only relies on your own imagination. It’s a game which also puts friends and family together, with infinite fun and choices. To know for sure how long this game will last, it only depends of how long the developers will give support to it. But I would guess that it will take a long, long time, to disappear from your shelf, or from the stores.


Matheus Pitillo is a VFS Game Design Alumni working at Electronic Arts