The Disney Infinity console game does more than sells games and toys, it also gives you the chance to play with characters from Disney and Pixar’s deep bench of quirky personalities and imaginative worlds, letting you explore and play to your heart’s content. Ever wanted to have a go-cart race between the toys from Toy Story and the cars from Cars? Want to fight villains as the Incredibles or explore the ships and islands of Pirates of the Caribbean? Maybe you just want a chance to play with all your favorite characters and engage in some good old fashioned fun. You can do all this with Disney Infinity.
Disney Infinity is one of a few new games that take a multimedia approach, combining gaming and collectibles with a range of toys that unlock corresponding characters in the game. Similar approaches have been seen with SkyLanders Swap Force Starter Pack (for PS3) and Pokemon Rumble U (for Wii U), but Disney Infinity manages to take this a step further, going beyond the obviously lucrative games+collectibles model to encourage imaginative play and real exploration instead of a generic adventure story or repetitive combat scenarios.
Welcome to Disney Land
The Disney Infinity Starter Pack gives you the basic pieces you need to start playing in this virtual Magic Kingdom. It comes with the game disc, the Infinity Base, one Power Disc, and three figurines. The included figurines should be fairly familiar: Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles, and Sully from Monsters Inc., each rendered as slightly simplified versions of their on-screen appearances. There’s also a Web Code Card letting you unlock further game elements online.
The Infinity Base is a specialized NFC reader, which reads chips embedded in each figurine and Power Disc, unlocking characters and game worlds (called Play Sets). Each character unlocks the Play Set appropriate to them. Mr. Incredible unlocks The City, where Syndrome and his army of robots are wreaking havoc. Sully unlocks Monsters U, which is populated with all sorts of other monsters. Jack Sparrow unlocks Pirates of the Caribbean, complete with the Black Pearl.
You can also add new characters to the game by purchasing additional Infinity figurines, sold singly (for $12.99) or in sets of two or three (pricing varies). As of this writing, there were sets available for Cars, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters Inc., The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lone Ranger, and more. But even if you scoop up a bunch of the current figures and Play Sets, there is far more to do and see in the game, because new Play Sets and characters are being added to the Infinity universe over time.
Play Sets are limited to the characters belonging to them—you won’t be gallivanting about in Monsters University with Jack Sparrow, for example—but there’s also a free play section called Toy Box, letting you mash up all sorts of characters and elements across different properties. Toy Box mode is aptly named, because it’s a game environment that the player can control, where you can plot out land, build skyscrapers and castles, and play with all sorts of characters in a free unstructured way. Land and buildings are put together like blocks, letting you erect cities, design race tracks, create mazes, and more.
You can also use something called a Power Disc, of which there are three types: Abilities, Toys, and Customizations. Abilities give various boosts, letting you restore health faster, do more damage, or collect more loot; Toys give you new objects and vehicles to use; and Customizations add themes to your Toy Box designs. For example, our review Starter Pack included a Rapunzel’s Kingdom Power Disc, which added flower touches to all of our land elements, inspired by the forest designs in Tangled.
You can enjoy this game on all major platforms, XBox 360, PS3, WiiU, Wii, and Nintendo 3DS. Each game system requires its specific Infinity Base, but all of the character figurines, Play Sets and assorted Power Disks will work on all supported systems. There is also an online component, which lets you create and share your own custom Toy Box creations on iPad or PC. The fun can also be shared, with local two-player options and networked play for up to four.
There’s an opening segment that serves as both an introduction to the game and a demo for the wide variety of Play Sets and gameplay options. Starting out as a magical spark, you get brighter by moving around the screen and finding other sparks of light. Eventually, these sparkles coalesce into the ghostly form of a person, and you can begin walking as an enchanted forest springs up around you. As you explore, you’ll cut through the Monsters University campus, a stretch of desert where you’ll be greeted by Woody from Toy Story, take a detour through the Caribbean with Jack Sparrow, make your way through The City from The Incredibles, watch a race between the characters from Cars and Wreck-It Ralph, fight off alien invaders with Buzz Lightyear, and finally make your way to Mickey’s Enchanted Castle. The opening segment ends with the familiar Disney Castle that you see before a Disney movie, making this prelude the longest opening logo I’ve ever seen.
The graphics of the game is on the simple side, but this provides a way to tie together all of the different Disney and Pixar properties thematically–they’re all toys. Accordingly, the environments are fairly simple, and between the cartoony world and toy-inspired character designs, it has a feel very similar to the many Lego games, like LEGO City Undercover (Nintendo Wii U).
As you explore the different Play Sets and build your own Toy Box worlds, you’ll be able to run and jump and use a few basic attacks. Scattered about are breakable objects that spill loot pinata-style when smashed. You’ll also find areas where you can drive in a car or glide through the air with a winged backpack. Even though there are enemies and combat elements in the game, it’s as cartoony and bloodless as you can get–characters break apart like toys. All told, even with the 10 and up rating, this game is family-friendly enough for younger kids as well.
All told, Disney has managed to do something pretty amazing with Disney Infinity, and that is to harness the imaginative possibilities of actual play. So many games provide players with the illusion of choice while prodding them through a linear story and limited set of choices, but Infinity delivers actual choice. The Toy Box metaphor guides everything in the game, letting kids (and likely plenty of parents) a chance to actually play, the same way you would with your favorite toys, building an imaginary world to play in and finding all sorts of fun ways to explore. To put it in Disney terms, it’s a magical experience, and it puts Disney Infinity head and shoulders above the similar concepts of Skylanders and Pokemon.
|ESRB Rating||E for Everybody|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc