To a cynical person, Disney Infinity 3.0 might look like nothing more than a way for Disney to exploit its massive collection of beloved franchises by selling copious amounts of plastic toys. But is it really just a cash in, or did Disney actually put forth the effort to make a family-friendly and enjoyable experience?
We’re giving away a Disney Infinity 3.0 starter set to two lucky winners. And best of all, you can pick the platform! So if you want Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Wii U, or PlayStation 3 – we’ve got you covered. Keep reading the review to find out if 3.0 and all of its Star Wars excitement is worth buying and to find out how to win.
As something of a traditional gamer, I used to look at these “toys to life” games from outside and wonder why on Earth would anyone buy a game, a fancy USB accessory base, and an absurd amount of toys to go along with it. It seemed like a money pit, and quite frankly, it is. But at the same time, I buy stupid digital hats in Dota 2 regularly, and I’ve spent $15 a month to play World of Warcraft for years, so who’s crazier – the toy buyers, who get a physical product that looks great on a shelf, or me?
This space really got started with Activision’s Skylanders franchise. The latest starter pack for the upcoming Skylanders SuperChargers comes with everything you need to get started and costs $75. Compared to Infinity at $65, it’s slightly more, but it comes with more toys and gizmos.
Nintendo also jumped into the toys to life game with Amiibo, but its approach is slightly different, as it’s not offering toys as part of a specific game, but rather it offers them as a supplement to existing games on both its 3DS and Wii U console. For them, users buy only the figures they want.
Added to that, a new challenger is approaching, and it’s a big one. LEGO is jumping into the fold with LEGO Dimensions, set to release at the end of this month. LEGO is selling its starter pack for $99, but that comes with three figures and blocks to build, as well as the base and game. Of course, it’s not out yet, so we don’t know exactly how everything will work, but if the standard LEGO video games are any indication, it could be a serious contender at least as far as quality and fun is concerned.
If you want more detail breaking down the toys to life games, check out the breakdown by our own Justin Dennis.
Toys and Base
When you open up your Disney Infinity starter pack, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the toys and the base. In this set, you’ll get two character figures – Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker – and the Star Wars Twilight of the Republic Play Set Piece. You’ll also get the base, which plugs into the console via a USB cable.
As for the figures themselves, they’re quite nice looking. Both of the characters are quite detailed, equipped with color-appropriate light sabers, detailed facial features, and all that good stuff. The playset piece is more basic looking, and is lacks the color and detail of the characters.
The base features two slots for characters (or power discs, though none of those come with the Starter Pack) and one for playsets. It’s simple looking, with a white and gray color scheme and a Disney Infinity 3.o logo plastered along the front. Depending where you put it while playing, the USB cable hanging out the back can be annoying. In the age of wireless controllers, introducing new wires to your system is always a pain, but as long as you put the base near your console, you can conceal the wire without issue.
These are only the figures included in the starter kit. There are hundreds of others out there, including those released with Disney Infinity and Disney Infinity 2.0. All characters from those games can be used in the Toy Box, but playset pieces will only work with their original game, so don’t expect to bring your Marvel playsets into the latest release. This is something of an annoyance, as long-time fans of the series will have to hang on to their old games to go back to the things they spent a good amount of money on.
Twilight of the Republic Play Set
With the starter set, you’ll be getting access to the Twilight of the Republic play set, which is a cool Star Wars themed campaign that gives you a great feel for the updated combat in the game. It should take you about five to six hours to get through this particular play set, depending on your skill. This is a decent enough length for something that’s only one part of the total package.
This little piece of plastic is packed with Star Wars fan service, but there’s one big, big problem. It’s set in the world with Jar-Jar Binks, easily one of the worst characters in the Star Wars universe. And while he’s not in every scene of the play set, his presence is there, and everytime he speaks I wanted to pull the play set piece off of the base and stomp it. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but he really does suck.
All in all, this play set is a cool piece of the puzzle, and there are already two other available in the form of another Star Wars set (which features the more beloved characters from the original trilogy) and one for the Pixar movie Inside Out.
When you first launch the game, you get a little sample of the gameplay from each of the playsets, and while this in some way feels like Disney giving you the hard sell to go out and buy more $35 pieces of plastic DLC, they’re all fun, and it serves as a great way to get a feel for what each offers.
The Toy Box
The playsets are fun, and they’ll tell you a cool story and let you hack and slash things, but they aren’t the bread and butter of Disney Infinity. It’s the Toy Box where the game truly shines. In here, you’ll have access to the Toy Box Hub, a cool little open world that lets you sample what’s on offer in the Toy Box. There’s tutorials that will teach you the basics of using everything, as well as places to connect and play games with other players. You could easily spend a couple of hours running around the Hub playing and exploring.
But even still, this Hub world isn’t the real showpiece, because that’s the ability to create. We’re talking about Little Big Planet levels of flexibility here, with the ability to make platforming levels, fighting levels, and even shooters. One of my personal favorites is a Splatoon-like level that sees you running around shooting paint on the level trying to cover as much of it as you can. It’s just one small example of the cool stuff that can be made that feels nothing like the game offered in the play sets. Is it as good as Splatoon? No, but it’s still great, when you factor in that it’s just a small part of a larger game.
As far as creating goes, this is where the game feels a lot less like a kids game, because it’s not super easy to use. There are levels you play through that are designed to teach you some of the basics, but there will be some trial and error as you figure out all of the tools. If you put in the time, you can truly make some fantastic things.
I’ve never been good at creating levels in games like LBP, but based on the things I’ve played, and a look at the tools offered, it’s easy to see that Disney didn’t skimp, and that those who want to flex their creative juices can do so here in a big way.
We need to look at the feel of the game a bit here, and there’s a lot of good, and a bit of bad in this regard. I mentioned the improved combat, and you can really feel it as you fight your way through Star Wars baddies here. The team at Ninja Theory, who you’ll know from games like DMC and Heavenly Sword, have provided their character action combat expertise to the game, and it really shows. While this is a game aimed primarily at kids, there’s enough depth to the combat that adults can really have a good time. There are juggles and combos that, while not on the same level of its previous games, are still quite fun.
While the combat is improved, there’s a big negative to the game, and that’s the absurd load times. In some cases, loads exceeded two minutes, which is just ridiculous. We tested on the Xbox One, but we’ve heard indications that load times aren’t any better on other platforms, and while I don’t have kids, I could certainly see impatience being a problem for anyone playing with young ones who want to get into the game and not stare at a loading screen. It’s not game breaking, but as load times go, Infinity is among the longest I’ve experienced this console generation.
The cost of Disney Infinity is slightly more than a standard $60 video game release, essentially coming in at the same price as a collector’s edition. So is it a good value when compared to a traditional game? We already mentioned that the actual play set that comes with this kit is about five or six hours long, which doesn’t sound all that great when attached to a $65 price tag, but it’s really in the Toy Box where the value comes in.
You can do all kinds of things with the Toy Box, whether you’re looking to create things for others to play, or you just want some variety in the things you can do, it’s here. The tools offered are robust, and people make some pretty amazing things. You could literally never touch the creation tools yourself and still have hundreds of hours of fun exploring the levels created by the creative members of the community.
From that perspective, the value is tremendous. You can have hours and hours of fun with just the starter pack, but there’s more than that, and if you’re buying this game for your kids, it’s going to be hard to avoid the dark, dangerous hole of collection the plastic. Figures tend to cost around $13, and play sets sell for $35. There are two additional 3.0 play sets right now, so that’s $70, and between all the games, there are over $100 figures. Meaning one could potentially spend over $1000 to get everything. Is that a good value? Absolutely not, but it’s optional. These toy-based games are what you make of them, and as compared to other games such as Skylanders, it seems like Disney Infinity is better at offering more with fewer figures, so from that perspective, it’s a solid value.
Should You Buy the Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack?
If you’re an adult looking for a new thing to play on your own, Disney Infinity is a solid game, but if you’re not going to be creating levels, you might find that the hack and slack gameplay doesn’t keep your interest. If creation is your thing, you’ll find that is has legs. And if you have kids, this is a great game to play with them, as there’s enough fun offered to keep you entertained, and there’s tons on offer for the kids.
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