Disney Infinity Review
After In some ways Disney Infinity is a lot like the Skylanders games. Put an action figure on a base connected to your console and it appears on the TV screen, a toy come to life as a video game character. However, it's not just Skylanders with Disney characters.
First off, there's an extra spot on the game portal. This spot is for the play set piece, which is used to select the game world you want to play in. The starter set comes with a special three-in-one play set piece that gives you three worlds - Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters University, and The Incredibles. The play sets all have their own unique environments, storylines, quests, and gameplay elements: The Incredibles features a modern city under siege by Syndrome's robotic creations, Monsters University includes the college campuses of Monsters U and Fear Tech, and Pirates of the Caribbean is set across several islands that you can reach by sailing your pirate ship. When you're in one of the play sets you can only use the figures that correspond to that play set, so Sulley can't sail the Caribbean as a pirate captain. Since the starter set only comes with one figure for each play set (Captain Jack Sparrow, Sulley, and Mr. Incredible), this also means that you can't play two player co-op in the play sets without buying an additional figure for each one.
Each play set has from three to five figures that go with it, one of which is always a villain. However, it doesn't really matter which figure you use in a play set because the missions and story are the same no matter which one you choose - you can even have Syndrome save Metroville from his own robotic minions. There isn't much of a difference between playing as one character or another outside of their unique animations, with a bit of an exception in the case of The Incredibles whose attacks are based on their super powers. You can certainly complete each story and all of its missions using a single character as the game doesn't block areas of the map to certain characters or have character-specific story missions. There are character-specific challenges, though, which are usually some sort of race against the clock to hit checkpoints or pick up collectibles. However, you don't miss out on anything by not completing them. There are also locked vaults tied to specific characters in each play set, and one that must be unlocked by all of the characters available for the play set. These vaults contain items for use in the Toy Box mode, so if you want all of the toys, you're going to need all of the figures. Also, while characters gain experience and levels while you're playing, a character's level doesn't seem to really have any effect on gameplay outside of unlocking an achievement for hitting the level cap.
While the gameplay experience doesn't vary all that much between characters, it does between play sets. The Incredibles is a melee brawler that adds super powers to the game as well as drivable vehicles from cars to hover boards. Pirates comes with plenty of swordplay as well as sailing ships and ship-to-ship battles. Monsters U brings guns (the silly kind, not the lethal kind) and bike stunts to the party. These differences make for different gameplay experiences with each play set, giving each one its own unique feel. You may be playing Disney Infinity whether you're in The Incredibles or in Monsters University, but it seems like you're playing a different game.
Each play set will take you about four to six hours to complete, depending on how interested you are in tracking down all of the Toy Box items hidden throughout the levels in vending machine capsules and in completing all of the character-based challenge runs. Finding those hidden items is a big part of the fun, though, because most of the quests are simple variations on the same set of themes. Once you've played through it all there's not a lot of motivation to return basic the basic, undirected play in each play set is somewhat limited and not exciting enough in and of itself to keep you coming back time and again.
The game's replay value is really tied to the Toy Box mode, which is an open sandbox, a game creation tool, and a game console all in one. You can start with an empty world, drop a few items into it, and then pop your characters in and see what happens, or you can create more elaborate and detailed game worlds. You can create a racing game, a side-scrolling platformer, a sports game, or even your own version of Angry Birds. It's relatively simple to create basic games or play zones - just select the object that you want from a scrolling list of available objects, and then place it in your game world. Game-making tools such as spawn points and action triggers are relatively easy to place and to connect to other objects. Making more complex games or worlds will take more time and skill, of course, but if you don't have the patience or inspiration to create your own you can download the creations of others, including Disney itself, into your game.
Lack of skill or lack of patience aren't the only things that may hold you back from creating great Toy Box games. The game is slow to dole out the tools and objects that you need to use the full potential of the Toy Box editor. Some must be earned or found in the game's play sets, while others are only obtainable at random through the game's vault which acts a bit like a slot machine and spits out tools and items at random. Sure, it's fun to win the jackpot or find a well-hidden item, but on the other hand why make level creators work so long and hard to get the tools they need to create levels that they can share with everyone else?
In addition to the figures, the game supports power discs and item discs, which when placed under figures or the play set piece add new items or themes to the Toy Box. These are available in blind packs containing two random discs. Some are more common than others, and after opening a few packs I already had some doubles and a triple.
The game also includes a Hall of Heroes in which you can admire statues of all of the figures that you've collected. As you level-up your characters, the Hall becomes more elaborate, so it's a nice visual way to see your progress through the game. On the other hand, it also shows you which characters you're missing and which are still to come. Rapunzel and Sorcerer Mickey figures seem to indicate that some figures will come without a play set in the future, while multiple figures from Toy Story and Phineas and Ferb indicates that more play sets may be on the way soon.
Overall, there's a lot of fun to be had with Disney Infinity and its Toy Box mode is an impressive achievement. The play sets could use more depth and variety of play and it's a shame that you have to work so hard to bring the Toy Box to its full potential, though. I also wish that there was more customization available for the figures once they're loaded into the game and that level progression for the characters felt more meaningful. As it stands the characters feel a bit like an extra charge to unlock additional content that's already on the game disc. Overall, though, the game is still recommendable as long as you're ready to make the investment in another figure collection.
Final Rating: 79%. The Toy Box is the star of the game, so why does it take so much time to unlock it all?