When I was a kid, playing with my toys and creating fantastic worlds for them to explore together was one of my favourite pastimes. With Disney Infinity 2.0, I’m able to re-capture that innocent, joyous experience in video game form — which is more socially acceptable than sitting in my apartment, playing with tiny figurines sprawled across the floor and doing their voices.
First launched last year, Disney Infinity is The House of Mouse’s answer to the whole Skylanders “toys that come alive in a video game” thing. The basic gist is you place toys on a special base, which is connected to your console via USB and sports three slots, transporting the character into the game for you to control. Each group of characters in the Infinity lineup belong to a different play set – a kind of “story campaign” – that is accessed by placing a transparent object onto the base. Characters from one play set can’t cross over into another unless certain conditions are met. There’s also the Toy Box, the expansive world-building creative mode, but more on that later.
While last year’s Infinity offered up plastic toys of fairly popular Disney characters to play with, some gamers probably didn’t think them “hip” enough to make the considerable financial plunge. Infinity 2.0 on the other hand pushes a bevy of Marvel’s superhero characters to the forefront, leaning heavily on the success of blockbuster movies like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy to help draw in new players to franchise.
It’s a gamble that paid huge dividends. Prior to Infinity 2.0’s announcement I’d only been vaguely interested in the real-toy in video game boom (Nintendo’s amiibo notwithstanding), but now since I’m able to create my own worlds with Spider-Man, Rocket Racoon and Hulk, I’m one hundred percent on-board; and I’m sure I’m not alone here. I can’t wait until 3.0, where we’ll inevitably see popular Star Wars characters begin to appear.
The starter pack is a fairly well-rounded package in terms of content, but there’s so much more fun to be had by picking up the additional 2.0 Play Sets, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy.
If you’ve never played Disney Infinity before and want to jump in this time around, you’re in for some serious set-up costs. Especially if you want to enjoy all 2.0 has to offer. The basic starter pack goes for about $100, and includes a copy of the game, three Infinity figures – Thor, Iron Man and Black Widow – a web code, two Toy Box game discs, an Avengers play set piece and the all-important Infinity 2.0 base. If you want additional play sets including more characters – the ones currently available are Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man – you’re up for an extra $40, then individual figurines have a $18 asking price.
The cost associated with getting all of Disney Infinity 2.0’s content is only going to increase, but the way I see it, after spending a considerable amount of time exploring what the game has to offer, whatever cash you pony up can be seen as an investment. This isn’t a game you play for a couple of days, or a weekend, then forget once the next big thing hits, it requires a long-term commitment from you as the player.
The Toy Box is the defining feature that separates Disney Infinity from its direct-rival, Skylanders, and it’s where it’ll most draw you. Aside from being insanely deep, it’ll see you coming back time and time again just to see whether or not you can create whatever crazy idea you’ve got kicking around inside your head. Infinity 2.0 provides everything needed to create, well, almost anything you could possibly imagine, providing you purchase them from the in-game store. By collecting blue sparks spread throughout both the story missions and the Toy Box, you’ll earn currency, which you can spend on an array of new terrain pieces, objects, decorations and characters to fill your worlds. Though some items can only be obtained in Play Sets and Toy Box games.
While it’s rife with potential, seeing your dreams spring to life takes time. The Toy Box is immensely overwhelming at first, and frustratingly Infinity 2.0 does little to help you come to grips with its basic function, even after it has been simplified since last year. Learning all the ins and outs of the Toy Box will take some serious trial and error, especially in the case of the more complex tools like creativi-toys, which provide more advance functions like auto-building certain terrains (forest, city etc) or when it comes to making your own challenges. It’s a slow and arduous process coming to grips with the Toy Box, but all you need to do is download a few of the top community boxes to see what’s possible to inspire your own creative flair and spur you forward.
The Toy Box was the thing I most anticipated going into Disney Infinity 2.0, so I was a little let down by how much leg work I had to do. The other creative mode added to 2.0, INteriors (or just, interiors), is simply a delight. Using the same editor found in the Toy Box, you can deck out and customise your own house interior, complete with wall themes, whacky objects, decorations and funky characters from a wide range of Disney and Marvel universes. I’m unsure why, but working with interiors was simpler and more straightforward, making it more enjoyable than starting from scratch.
THAT MISSING NEXT-GEN FEEL
While I played Disney Infinity 2.0 on PlayStation 4, I might had well been playing on a last-gen console. Jumping between game modes is bogged down by incredibly slow loading time, while delays in button inputs and weird bugs that sent me through the floor add further to the game’s technical problems. Infinity 2.0 might be available for new-gen consoles, but it never really captures the feeling of playing on one.
Then again, I just love spending time in my own interior. Here, I’m able to carve out a little slice of Disney magic that’s mine, which felt like home, and populate it with characters I want to surround myself with. I liken my experiences with 2.0’s interiors to playing with my action figures as a kid on my bedroom floor.
When creating grows a tiresome, you can jump into Infinity 2.0’s story mode, Play Sets. The Avengers is the default include option, a bare-bones action-adventure story that has the titular group of superheroes fending off Loki’s attempts to destroy/take over Manhattan. Frost Giants overrun the city, and it’s your task to fend them off by completing a series of same-same missions that includes, and is limited to, defeating a certain number of enemies, protecting a particular item for a set amount of time, and literally moving other characters or objects. I’m willing to forgive this copy/paste approach to mission design mostly due to everything else Infinity 2.0 attempts.
One of the things I like most about video games is earning experience and levelling up my character, something which Infinity 2.0 allows me to do with all of its awesome-looking plastic toys. Each character can be levelled up, and improved by spending skill points in the surprisingly robust progression tree, across all of the game’s modes, Play Sets, the Toy Box and Toy Box games. Allowing players the ability to upgrade their characters anywhere they choose to play is fantastic, preventing you from becoming incarcerated in one mode. What’s more, the connection made to a favourite character is bolstered by it becoming stronger than any other figurine. Iron Man was my go-to-guy in the Avengers because I’d spent the most time with him.
Toy Box games, accessible by placing special discs on the 2.0 base, add the final element. Two are included in the starter pack, Assault on Asgard and Escape from the Kyln. Both introduce two very different types of gameplay mechanics for you to explore. Assault on Asgard is a third-person tower-defence action hybrid, where you fight back waves of enemies, spending collected points on objects like turrets to help fend off your foes. Escape from the Kyln, on the other hand, is a dungeon crawler where you sweep through hordes of enemies.
I just love spending time in my own interior. I’m able to carve out a little slice of Disney magic that’s mine, and populate it with characters I want to surround myself with.
Toy Box games are a nice distraction from the either-or feel hovering over Play Sets and the Toy Box in general, providing players with something a little different in terms of content and gameplay. What’s most exciting is tackling these mini-games with any Infinity 2.0 figure you own; smashing up Asgaard with Groot is as fun as it sounds. Completing these games also awards you additional creation tools you can use to build your own similar challenges for your friends, or random strangers if you want to upload them to Disney’s servers for others to try. The already impressive breadth of user-made content is staggering.
Disney Infinity 2.0 is a joyous and wonderful gaming experience, it’s only a shame it comes with a dissuading high price and some annoying technical hiccups. While the starter pack is a fairly well-rounded package in terms of content, there’s so much more fun to be had by picking up the additional 2.0 Play Sets, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. For your wallet’s sake, it’s best not to go all-in until you’ve figured out Infinity’s best feature, the Toy Box, which frustratingly does very little in helping you learn its complex creation tools. Learn the ropes, however, and you’ll be rewarded with unique experiences limited only by your imagination.