reviews\ Aug 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Review: Spark your imagination with Disney Infinity


When Toy Story 3: the Video Game came out back in 2010, Avalanche Software probably didn't predict just how popular their secondary Toy Box mode would have become. Straying away from the events of the movie, Toy Box allowed players to venture into the wild west as Woody, Buzz or other Toy Story cast members,  where they could complete quests, race on toy cars, customize the buildings, and much more. Thanks to its popularity, we now have Disney Infinity, an expanded take on the Toy Box mode that blends various Disney franchises under one digital roof.

Disney has dubbed Infinity more as a new platform for its movie properties than a new game. It lays down a solid foundation on how to treat movie-based, licensed properties as well as giving the player the freedom to build just about anything they can imagine.

Much like Activision's Skylanders, Disney Infinity also relies on figures that can be placed on a base that transports them into the game, to be put under the player's control. And while there are a lot of similarities between the two as far the toy technology goes, the two couldn't be more different gameplay-wise.

Disney Infinity

Disney Infinity comes with two modes: There's the Playset, which allows you to adventure through a licensed property as the characters that appear in it, and Toy Box mode, where your only limit is your imagination (or how many toys you have unlocked). Since these two modes are so vastly different from each other, I'll go over each one in detail.

The Playsets are Disney's answer to licensed movie-based games, where structured gameplay is key. Unlike typical movie-based games, these don't necessarily have to follow any set storyline, as is apparent with all three starter pack Playsets. What they all have in common is that any toys unlocked in each Playset, be it through buying them with in-game currency or unlocking them by finding the myriad of collectibles littered around each world, are then able to be used in the Toy Box.

Incredibles lets you roam around Metroville as any member of the superhero family, scaling buildings, destroying robots, capturing evildoers and restoring peace to the citizens. As fun as it sounds, it is easily the weakest of the three starter Playsets. Maybe it's because the Incredibles are past their prime, but I just couldn't really get into the story. Or the gameplay, for that matter.

Incredibles in Disney Infinity

Its open world Metroville just isn't all that interesting to roam around in. It does get better once you unlock gadgets like the hoverboard or the glide suit, but even then it doesn't hold a candle to the environments in the other two Playsets.

There is also a base customizing element that I wish Avalanche could have expanded on just a bit. As you progress through the story, you're able to build four different buildings, which can be slightly customized with different color schemes. But outside of that, they're there to push the story forward. Some more buildings to place or more customization would have helped Incredibles to distinguish itself a little bit more.

Pirates of the Caribbean puts you in the shoes of Jack Sparrow, on a quest to attain your own pirate ship, sail the open seas, and take down the vicious Davy Jones and the terrifying Kraken.

Right away, Pirates does a terrific job at making you feel like you're a part of the pirate world. Fun swashbuckling action, large-scale naval combat, and multiple islands to explore make for a much more satisfying experience. The islands are also littered with treasure chests filled with gold, and hidden rooms housing new layouts for your ship.

Disney Infinity Pirates of the Caribbean

While the combat is largely a button masher, like Incredibles, it does have some sweet combos where Jack will slash his enemy multiple times, jump away and then blast them with his gun. Naval combat is arguably the most fun, as you can either take the helm of the ship as you maneuver around your enemies, blasting them to bits with your side cannons. Or, you can let Gibbs take over steering and man any of the swap-able cannons located around the ship.

Monsters University is easily the most impressive of the bunch, also containing the most amount of gameplay. You'll take on the role of Sulley (or Mike if you bought extra figures) and spend your time playing practical jokes on other MU students and, more importantly, Fear Tech.

Disney Infinity Monsters University

The reason why Monsters University exceeds expectations is that it not only builds off of the narrative from the movie, but it shows a side of it we never got to see. That's right, you can actually explore the Fear Tech campus, scaring unsuspecting school guards, stealing their prized mascot, shooting toilet paper all over their statues, and laying down pranks that will paint unsuspecting students blue.

Even with all of that, you get to partake in paintball battles, BMX challenges, and even completely rebuild and remodel Frat Row with the other frat houses from the movie.

Even though the Toy Box is heavily advertised as Infinity's premiere mode, it would be a shame if everyone didn't check out these fantastic playsets first. They each clock around 6-8 hours, meaning they conclude right before they wear out their welcome.

The biggest drawback to the Playsets, if all you buy is the starter pack, is that you can't play with a buddy. Since Infinity doesn't allow cross-franchise gameplay -- meaning Jack Sparrow can't wander the grounds of MU and Mr. Incredible can't set sail across the Caribbean -- you can't play co-op unless you invest in an extra figure for $13, or a three-pack for $30.

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Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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