Up Up Down Down: Disney Infinity
Disney Infinity has officially landed, and the consensus is that the brand new gaming platform from Disney Interactive definitely delivers something noticeably different from Skylanders. The game is literally one big sandbox for you to play around in and craft your wildest creations. It also boasts traditional campaign-based gameplay for folks who fancy themselves fans of Disney’s many properties, including Monsters University and Pirates of the Caribbean. Just how successful is this latest project in providing a robust user experience, though?
This time on Up Up Down Down, we’re going to talk about why Disney Infinity is so much fun, and why it can be a bit of a bummer at times.
Up Up: Story-based Play Sets are pretty fun
The first thing I sunk a few hours into during my time with Disney Infinity was the Monsters University Play Set. Playing as Sulley, I ran around the campus grounds, feuding with rival school Fear Tech, scaring enemy characters, and just engaging in some straight-up vandalism. The missions are quite fun and combine to provide roughly three to four hours of gameplay. The Starter Pack also includes Pirates and Incredibles Play Sets, both of which offer their own unique spin. If I were to liken the gameplay of the Play Sets to anything, I’d say it’s pretty close to the LEGO games, which is in no way a bad thing. It’s intuitive, non-threatening fun.
Down Down: Camera issues are a pain
Play Set gameplay is largely an action-platforming affair and feels vastly different compared to the Skylanders franchise. Unfortunately, it seems developer Avalanche Software struggled with the camera issues that plagued so many platformers back in the days of the Nintendo 64 and original PlayStation. Due to the fact that there are plenty of carefully timed jumps and meticulously positioned collectibles, it can be difficult having to deal with a pesky camera and constantly missing a ledge or item. It’s 2013, so there’s no room for this type of greatly irritating flaw
Up Up: Toy Box mode is a creative game player’s dream
If you’re a fan of games that spark your imagination and let you build, destroy, and rebuild to your heart’s content, Disney Infinity presents you with a ton of content. You can create anything from racetracks to arenas to platformers of your own. If you wish to recreate your favorite Mario levels, you can do so. If you’re looking to build your very own action-adventure experience, the tools are there for you to mess around with freely. There is a learning curve, but thanks to the in-game tutorials (and YouTube), you can get pretty good at creating in no time.
Down Down: Random spin for Toy Box pieces is a drag
Exploring rewards you with special Spin Tokens that can be redeemed for Toy Box pieces. These pieces allow you to add more elements to your creations, making them a huge part of Disney Infinity. Sadly, you rely on a roulette of sorts to unlock these pieces, and you hardly ever get what you want. I spent so many tokens hoping to get some cool environmental landscapes like hills and caves, but all I got most of the time were duds like rotating floor panels, bushes, and trees. The fact that you need to rely on chance to get the best things in Disney Infinity is just plain dumb.
Up Up: Co-op is a blast
As much fun as it is to take on the adventures of Monsters University on your own, it’s even better with a pal. You can team up with a buddy to engage in the multiple campaigns, and doing so makes for a much more entertaining romp through the colorful Disney worlds. Additionally, if you’ve got kids, this mode is ideal; and because you don’t want to hear their complaining when they can’t come to grips with the bad camera, you’ll be the super parent who helps them complete missions. You can also have some online co-op fun in the Toy Box, where up to four players can construct their own towers, courses, and lands simultaneously.
Down Down: A lot of time and money required for a better overall experience
It should be noted that local co-op requires that you purchase extra figurines. I mean, it would be ridiculous to have Sulley help out Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates Play Set, right? Well, yes, it would be, but it would also be kind of cool, which is why it sucks that you can’t do it. No, you’re going to have to spend even more money on partner characters. You’re also going to have to empty out your wallet if you want more Toy Box goodies as characters and Play Sets all have exclusive content. Speaking of which, you don’t exactly get everything right from the start. You need to explore every crevice in those Play Sets to unlock more Toy Box items, which can be a bore if all you want is to create stuff.
Up Up: The figurines look freakin’ rad
Even though Disney Infinity figurines can’t move like regular toys, they make for some pretty neat collectibles. The quality of the toys is outstanding, and none of them look cheap. It’s easy to see kids collecting and playing with these things, but even older folks who love having figurine displays could get a kick out of them. The quality is so good that it really marries toy collection and video games in a much bigger way than you might expect. Disney Infinity promotes video games and traditional toys equally, making gaming and old school action figure play both seem relevant.
Down Down: Gameplay lacks polish
Now if only the quality of the gameplay mechanics was as solid as the quality of the toys. While it’s certainly fun, Disney Infinity isn’t free of abysmal issues. Aside from the poor camera, a number of hiccups make the whole thing a tad less fun to play. Glitches can make clearing missions a chore. The controls aren’t exactly tight. You can even get hit by baddies during objective briefings. Simply put, this is sloppy, lazy design on the part of Avalanche, and like the problematic camera, it’s impossible to justify this clear lack of effort to create a tight, polished experience.
Left Right Left Right: Disney Infinity is fun but flawed, and certainly not infinite
If you like the gameplay in the LEGO games and love the Disney name, you should probably snag Disney Infinity. It’s pricey, but there’s plenty to love. With both franchise-specific campaigns and the open-ended Toy Box mode, there’s a lot for all kinds of audiences to dive right into. Despite some rough edges, there’s loads of fun to be had, and the oodles of secrets to discover make Disney Infinity a solid investment. Plus, with the promise of future Play Sets, you can be sure to look forward to even more content down the road.
Additionally, this is one of those games that just begs to be played with others. Whether you’re showing off your crazy creations or jumping into different Play Sets, it’s always better to get in on the fun with a friend or family member. Personally, I can’t wait to have my kid nephew over so we can have some fun with the game.
When you take into account everything that this project has to offer, you quickly realize that there’s just as much to love as there is to loathe. This is indeed Disney’s best venture in recent memory, even if it isn’t anywhere near perfect. At the very least, it takes away that gross taste that Epic Mickey 2 left and the negative feelings toward Disney Interactive associated with that previous blunder. Perhaps it should’ve been called DisneyCraft, though, because Disney Infinity is just the slightest bit misleading.
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