August 26, 2013

Disney Infinity

Lasting First Impressions

I sat down with Disney Infinity with full intentions to review the game in our usual Lasting First Impressions way: to play the game for an hour and then review it.  Unfortunately, the game wouldn’t let me leave after an hour.  The sincere joy and amazement of this new Skylanders style Toy-meets-Video-Game title simply pulled me in, transformed me once again into a wide-eyed and mesmerized little boy and gave me a world of Disney that I never wanted to leave.

Disney Infinity seems, at first, to be Disney’s way of cashing in on the Skylanders craze that Activision so brilliantly started two years ago.  And in some ways it is.  In many other ways, this is the evolution of this genre of gaming and one that pulls from nearly a century of story telling.  With so many franchises under the control of Disney Studios, there is no limit to what we may see in Disney Infinity.  The game is played by placing Playset Pieces, characters, and Power Discs on the “Disney Infinity Base” which activates an original, story-driven adventure and puts the character chosen into the game.  With playsets, however, only characters from that franchise can be placed into the adventure.  For example, placing the additionally purchased Cars playset onto the Base, requires the use of one of the Cars characters such as Lightening McQueen.  Sully, from Monsters University, can not visit the Cars playset.

Disney Infinity Screen 5Disney Infinity ships complete with the Base, three characters: Sully, Mr. Incredible, and Captain Jack Sparrow, along with a Playset Piece with adventures for all three of these franchises (Monsters University, The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean).  The adventures found in each of these stories will be enough to keep kids and kids-at-heart, busy for quite some time.  These stories take a sort of RPG style of gameplay by giving players small quests to complete for “sparks” or XP for leveling up their characters. Each of the three included stories are very different from each other as well, giving players completely new game styles as they switch playsets.  Monsters University is a casual and cute romp through the Monsters University grounds and their rival Scare Tech as the two schools compete for the best campus points by toilet papering each others campuses and causing all sorts of university hijinks. The Incredibles, on the other hand, is a fast action packed adventure that finds Mr. Incredible (or other, separately purchases characters from the franchise) fighting Syndrome’s robotic minions all the while still completing quests.  Pirates of the Caribbean also includes great action as Davy Jones’ minions try to stop Captain Jack from finding the pieces of the Kraken Bane but also includes some very fun pirate ship action.  Each of these included stories will give players hours of fun without ever having to purchase more toys or playsets from the store.

On top of the stories in the playsets, Disney Infinity’s crowning achievement is the Toy Box.  This is where the real fun begins.  It is here that players can create their own adventures and this is where you will see characters like Captain Jack Sparrow come face to face with Tonto from The Lone Ranger.  Or where you may find Lightening McQueen come to Mr. Incredible’s rescue.  By finding and collecting toy capsules throughout the playset adventures, pieces will be unlocked in the Toy Box that can be used to create your own worlds and adventures. Think Minecraft meets Little Big Planet meets Disney.  The possibilities are endless and Disney has already begun to supply their own extra adventures that can be downloaded for free.  Adventures that players create can also be uploaded to the Disney servers, where they will be curated and released to the public.  Disney wanted to give players exactly what kids would naturally do in their rooms: create a world where your imagination was your only limit.

Disney Infinity Screen 6For the toy collector in all of us, you will find that the Disney Infinity toys are very nicely produced.  They have a good heft to them and they are very highly detailed and stylized.  It is going to be tough not to want to buy every character available in every set released.

While the game itself is quite fun and engaging, it is hard to miss some of the inherent flaws which I can actually give a pass on as I consider that this is just the first is many years’ worth of Disney Infinity updates and versions.  There is a weird draw-in effect that makes textures look spotted with black dots that often just looks like something didn’t render properly.  As characters can jump and grab hold of ledges for climbing, often times they just don’t grab hold of the ledge and several tries are required to get it right. This can be detrimental at times especially when faced with a time limited challenge.  The menu system could be a little clearer to use, too. For example, I downloaded the aforementioned extra adventures that Disney provided, but I have yet to figure out how to actually load and play them.  They don’t seem to be listed in any Adventures.  Despite these flaws, it is hard not to love Disney Infinity and just enjoy what it is.  As large as this platform is (yes, I call it a platform instead of just a single game), I can give a pass on some issues as I’m sure these will be tweaked and perfected as the title matures over time.

Going into Disney Infinity, I expected to find a Skylanders clone. Instead of was swept off my feet, mesmerized by the worlds and the adventures included here and never wanted to leave.  The shear joy that I felt seeing all my favourite characters come together in one game was reminiscent to seeing them together for the first time in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”  I am excited to see what characters and playsets may come in the future.  From titles like Tron, Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Toy Story, and even Star Wars, the possibilities have no end.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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