The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Pixar’s Toy Story movies give us a good look at two very different
children and their playing habits. In one house, we see Andy. He’s a
goodhearted kid who takes great care of his toys and is heartbroken when
his favorites break. In the house next door, we have Sid. This
disturbed little monster conducts experiments on his toys. In Disney
Infinity, the latest video game that can only be played if an action
figure is placed on a portal, we are given the chance to channel our
inner Andy or Sid.
We can create our own magical worlds for our action figures, or use
them as cogs in violent Rube Goldberg machines. Both of these play
styles generate thrilling moments, but only if we use our imaginations
to enable them.
Captain Jack Sparrow, Buzz Lightyear, Lightning McQueen, and many of
Disney’s recognizable characters are a part of Disney Infinity, but they
aren’t the stars. The show stealer is a mode called Toy Box.
Toy Box is a construction set where worlds can be created, played
within, and shared online. If Minecraft is the Lego of video games,
Disney Infinity is the Duplo. Houses, castles, and most of the
components are pre-built. The color and texture of many of these objects
can be altered, but that granular level of sculpting them to exact
specifications is not available. Creativity is tied to how these pieces
are used in the context of playing with them. Uncle Scrooge’s vault may
look cool on its own, but it takes on a whole new life when you try to
jump cars over it, or construct a series of tricky spinning platforms
leading up to its roof (where access to its fortunes awaits).
The creation tools are designed with simplicity in mind: Grab a
desired object and place it in the world. An effective color-coding
system shows when items are overlapping, touching flush, or floating
freely. Generating dense forests or city blocks only takes a matter of
minutes, but designing an enjoyable racetrack with a defined start,
number of laps, and finish (complete with fireworks signaling a winner)
requires a deeper understanding of how to make items interactive. Most
of these actions are surprisingly easy to grasp, allowing for a wide
variety of play within the world.
From the outset, the Toy Box doesn’t offer all of the items you can
use. This is where you feel the hand of Disney’s marketing department,
as it pushes the player to try other modes and – if you want to make
your Toy Box as deep as possible – purchase more figures and play sets
to unlock more stuff. You'll frequently run into boxes you cannot open
unless you have specific characters. Some of these boxes are tied to
characters that aren't available for purchase yet.
Infinity's Starter Pack allows for co-op in Toy Box mode. To play co-op
in the starter play sets, additional figures from those universes must
A bevy of hidden Toy Box items are scattered throughout the
Incredibles, Monsters University, and Pirates of the Caribbean play sets
that are included in the base game. Each play set is a standalone
adventure offering roughly three to six hours of open-world missions.
Monsters University is the weakest of the bunch, focusing on repetitive
fetch quests and collecting widgets, but Pirates and the Incredibles do a
nice job of mixing up the gameplay and throwing fun challenges at the
player. Pirates' open world sailing is particularly impressive, and is
better played with a friend who can man the cannons as you chart a
course across the dangerous seas to islands hopefully holding treasure
and more Toy Box pieces. The play sets, when done well, are another
great avenue of play. Monsters University's missions are a tad irksome,
but plenty of excitement comes from exploring the campus and scaling its
buildings to find hidden goodies.
Adventure mode is where most of Disney Infinity's red flags are
found. Here, each character is tasked to complete a unique challenge to
unlock a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Some of these goals are
incredibly difficult, and calling upon a friend can make them even
harder, as each player is tasked to collect their own set of orbs, yet
are going after the same ones. Good luck to all of the completionists
out there who are going for all of the gold. I suspect many hairs will
be pulled in the process.
Outside of Cars’ cast, all of Disney Infinity’s characters share the
same basic move set, which is beautifully implemented, turning the act
of platforming, racing, and third-person shooting effortless. Some
characters offer additional actions. Dash, for instance, has super
speed, making him more desirable than the Mike Wazowkis of Disney’s
kingdom. Sorry, Mike. You're going to collect dust on retail shelves.
When characters level up or their unique challenges are completed,
they earn tokens that can be redeemed for spins to unlock a random toy
box item. This is the element of the game where I found myself cringing
as the thought “I need more figures” crossed my mind. Making the Toy Box
as deep as possible is an expensive venture, but it’s also a fun one
that is backed by quality gameplay and a wealth of content for each of
the launch play sets.
Disney Infinity is off to a great start and will hopefully be
supported for years to come. The thought of Avalanche Software
potentially tapping Star Wars, Marvel Comics, and other properties in
Disney’s vault for upcoming sets makes this game’s future just as
exciting as spending an afternoon creating adventures with friends.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.