Disney Infinity is a gaming gamble that Disney Interactive Studios hopes will catch on like wildfire. Truth is they have something on their hands that works well on many levels. Those who are familiar with Skylanders will understand the concept immediately. But even if you’ve never played that game, Disney Infinity is approachable and fun for almost all ages. But, to play, you’ll need to buy the starter pack, which gives you some toy figures, a digital base station to put them on and some other knickknacks you’ll need.
The game is separated into two sections, Play Set mode and Toy Box mode. The starter pack includes a Play Set Piece that allows you to jump into three specific worlds. Monsters University, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Incredibles are made available from the start and you are given three figures Sulley, Mr. Incredible and Jack Sparrow that allow you to visit these worlds. I could review each Play Set here, but the amount of time required for each one would not do these individual Play Sets justice. Expect reviews on each Play Set soon.
Within the Play Set mode, boundaries have been set. Only characters from that world are allowed to step foot in the various Play Sets. With only three figures included in the starter pack, those who want to play co-op mode within the worlds will need another figure related to that set in order to play. This is an aspect of the game that will either bother you or it won’t.
I worried how each Play Set could differ from one another. Would they all share the same experience and design settings or would they capture each world and make them unique unto themselves? Saying I was surprised is being modest. The sheer amount of main objectives, side missions and freedom within each Play Set as well as the immersiveness of each world is something unexpected, but greatly welcomed. The similarity between each Play Set is the mechanics, which helps you integrate into each world with a sense of familiarity.
While missions vary on difficulty, one thing that struck me was how much exploration was needed in order to complete various tasks. Each Play Set shared a similar plastic art style, showing that we’re playing with digital toys. The length of time to complete each Play Set varies depending on how involved you get. The main storyline takes roughly four and a half to five hours to complete, while the side missions add another couple hours to the experience. Within each world are toy capsules that can be collected and used in the Toy Box mode. For those who don’t really care about experiencing the Play Sets, this may be the added incentive to play them.
There are a few issues though, as audio seemed to repeat itself at random times and building textures seemed to become transparent sporadically. The camera seemed to cause an issue while in shooting missions. The camera wouldn’t rotate or would put you in odd angles causing a brief moment of loss when trying to aim at enemies. Climbing buildings would get frustrating as the controls would become sensitive or inoperable, either causing you to mistakenly jump off the building or not jump at all. Aside from these issues, the frequency in experiencing this wasn’t that bad and software updates should address these issues if Disney is paying attention to user comments (as I’m sure they are).
For the amount of time that can be spent in each Play Set, the mode that really shines is the Toy Box. Here you’re allowed to play as any character (released of course) you want to be and create or play in custom worlds. After completing the beautifully created “Spark” introduction, you are transported into the Toy Box Launch. Here you’re allowed to experience what the Toy Box mode is all about, with various mastery adventures that teach you how to create a custom world to your likening.
The amount of creativity in this realm is strictly up to the player’s imagination and hard drive space. You start with a small amount of pieces to work with, such as basic terrain pieces, and a few items to let you experience what everything is about. There are two ways to add more pieces to the Toy Box Mode, through the Disney Infinity Vault and from the capsules you’ve found throughout the various Play Sets.
The Disney Infinity Vault is a shuffleboard that randomly chooses an item to unlock which can be used within the Toy Box mode. Obtaining star medals, mostly obtained in the Play Sets, allow you to use this vault. While the Play Sets only allow two player local co-op, the Toy Box allows four player online co-op. Each player can customize the world at the same time, making building a massive area a lot easier to accomplish.
Aside from capsules littered throughout the game, themes and objects can also be obtained through Power Discs. They come in hexagonal and circle forms each representing a particular item. One hexagonal piece may be the use of the Dumbo mount from the theme park rides. Another may be a Dome piece of Nemo, which alters the background to look like you were in the ocean from Finding Nemo. Circular discs primarily work great in the Play Sets where they may give you added powers.
The attention to detail within these discs set them apart from each other. While driving around in Cinderella’s carriage, the theme music from the movie plays. Cinderella hums a portion of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and this loops every couple minutes. Stepping out of the carriage, the music stops and reverts back to its background themed music, in this case, Finding Nemo’s Beyond The Sea theme song. For all the craziness you can do in this mode, it was at this moment that I stopped and appreciated what was done here.
With the launch of the game, five Disney Toy Boxes are made available for free to download. The main one, Disneyland, was announced at D23 this year. This is an imagined experience that loosely fits how Disneyland looks. While the castle, Matterhorn Mountain and Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion are buildings within the game; everything else is meant to “represent” the various lands.
The other four Disney Toy Boxes for download are Wonderland Maze which takes players through a huge maze with enemies of all types waiting to attack. Floating Castle allows players to control the floating castle while trying not to be launched back to the ground. Medieval Arena lets you joust each other while riding peculiar mounts like a Bullseye from Toy Story 2 or an elephant. Tron Sugar Rush is a small racing arena that melds the Tron and Sugar Rush worlds into one. These are available for most systems except the Wii and Nintendo 3DS versions.
Where the starter packs stops is where Disney hopes you’ll be willing to invest more money into its world. As the name “Infinity” implies, there is an endless possibility of worlds and characters for them to sell you as time goes on. Spending $74.99 on the starter pack is pricey, but does come with a lot for that price. To fully experience what the game has to offer, Disney hopes you’ll spend you’re hard earned money on figures and Play Sets to add more to your Toy Box creations. Various price points come into play when talking about expanding your collection. If you want to buy separate characters or “Standalone Pieces,” this will run you $12.99 per figure. Sidekick Packs or Villians Packs offer three figures for a price of $29.99. If you want to experience a new world like Radiator Springs, the Cars Play Set Pack will run you $34.99.
Blind sets of Power Discs add features to the game such as power-ups, new transportation or gadgets. This costs $4.99 and you will not know which ones you obtain till you open the pack. This begins to add up very fast if you want to experience every portion of this game. The initial release of characters will start with just over 17 characters with more being released in waves over the coming months.
The big announcement at D23 showed off quite a few new characters such as Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and Woody from Toy Story, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope from the Wreck-It Ralph movie, Jack Skellington from A Nightmare Before Christmas, Rapunzel from Tangled, Elsa and Anna from the upcoming film Frozen, Agent P and Phineas from Phineas & Ferb, and Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the movie Fantasia. This all means more money to spend in order to enhance the gaming experience. This is where you’ll need to decide how much you want to be ‘invested’ in this game.
The launch of Infinity did come with a bit of a glitch, the PS3 version of the game became inoperable, ruining many peoples experiences and save files. While a patch was released two days later, on Tuesday the 20th, it still caused a lot of headaches for those who put time into the game already, just to lose everything from a corrupt data error from the previous patch. Wii owners who bought the game found out that the limitations of the system meant they would miss out on various portions of the game, one being no co-op play in the Play Sets and not having an online co-op mode.
With all of its faults, Disney Infinity has a lot that shines. For a first year iteration of the game, it offers players a massive amount of things to experience and do. For those who want a story mode, all the Play Sets offer this experience. For those wanting to jump in and create, you’re allowed this as well with the exception of many items. This forces players to run through the Play Sets to expand the creation of the Toy Box. For some this is a non-issue and for others this may be a deal breaker.
A potential deal breaker for some is the price of adding on to the game through figures, Play Sets and power discs. But for those who already collect things like Disney pins and Vinylmation, the figures are well made and of collectible quality and price. If you placed them on a shelf or desk, they’d look like they were never part of a game. With future patch releases and upgrades, software glitches should go away and the future characters and Play Sets coming out should add replay value to an already massive game. Disney Interactive took a gamble with Disney Infinity and I believe it will pay off in many ways. So much so that MiceChat is expanding to be your single source of discussion about Disney Infinity with discussions, columns, tips and possibly even a trading forum.
You’ll find the MiceChat Disney Infinity forum HERE.
Expect reviews of each Play Set with its corresponding figures in the coming weeks. We also welcome you to join the discussion and help give ideas to the future project called MiceChatland within Disney Infinity itself.
Happy playing everyone. We look forward to your thoughts, tips and reviews.