Review: Disney Infinity 3.0

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Disney Infinity 3.0 gave me goosebumps just thirty seconds in. I actually gasped aloud as the LucasFilm logo twinkled to life, followed by the strong, blazing Marvel logo and, finally, Disney’s magical one.

Guys, Infinity had me wrapped around its little finger from as little as its title sequence.

I mean, we all know Disney’s got Star Wars and Marvel in its stable, but Infinity 3.0 is the first real opportunity to play in a sandbox full of pop culture. Avalanche Software’s newest iteration of the franchise was quick to really drive that point home. I was placed directly into an introductory sequence in control of Anakin Skywalker before I was playing out another scenario with Han Solo, Princess Leia and the Millennium Falcon. Not yet done, I then was thrust into an Inside Out sequence with Joy and Anger before finally ending the affair with Mickey and Minnie Mouse and their best impression of the Wacky Racers.

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Infinity 3.0 went from having me under its spell to losing me in two minutes flat.

That oh-so Disney feeling of magic and wonder that you want to wrap around you like a blanket disappeared when my adult logic kicked in. Infinity 3.0’s introductory showcase went just a little too far in my mind. I couldn’t help but think things like, “well, I guess all of the assets really are on the disc,” and, “holy crap, would it ever cost a ton to actually play with all these characters.”

Oh, and, “Minnie and Mickey look weird. Their noses aren’t long enough, or something.”

Toys to life can sometimes be disheartening, eh?

The Toy Box Hub

Thankfully, I shed most of those thoughts by the time I was thrown into Infinity 3.0’s Toy Box Hub. For casual players, the Hub is a tutorial-laden area that will slowly ease you into the concepts of Infinity. To me, it was a little heavy-handed, but it really did help to impress upon me just how much the core game has packed into it. The Hub has six distinct areas, each representing core ideas: combat, exploration, vehicles, Sidekicks, your INterior and the title’s social aspects.

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Within each area, there are many little tutorials and mini-games to experience, each adding to your overall experience. Theoretically, you could complete them all and then spend hours and hours creating your own content – or, using the game’s lingo, your own Toy Box. For us uncreative types, the Main Street portion of the Hub deals with this by offering up the El Capitan theatre to showcase Toy Boxes created by the community alongside Flynn’s Arcade, full to the brim with Avalanche Software’s additions. If ‘go and sort out that objective’-based play isn’t your thing, you can simply spend a bunch of time just kicking around the Hub fighting baddies, unlocking more toys and farming for your Sidekick (but more on that in a second). For those looking to save a little cash, the Toy Box Hub can be purchased digitally for $39.95 and will work with existing 2.0 bases and 1.0 and 2.0 characters.

I spent more time than I’d care to admit farming, deploying one of 3.0‘s new Sidekicks to tend to a plot of land and grow things like lettuce and tomatoes. Said foods can be fed back to your Sidekicks, building up a multitude of skills. That’s quite important as in things like the Toy Box Takeover, your Sidekick will fight alongside you and help out however it can.

Toy Box Expansion – Takeover

From October, Toy Box Expansion games will also be available to play through. While we got to put Takeover, a dungeon-crawler, through its paces for review, the Mario Kart-like Speedway game type we played at E3 will also be available.

In Takeover, you can use any character you wish to take part in a top-down beat-em-up, travelling from level to level in an effort to rescue magical wands stolen by Incredibles super-villain Syndrome. If nothing else, the expansion is a great way to quickly level up your characters, especially if you register any of your old Infinity figures in 3.0 for an XP boost. The range of Disney-themed locales mixed with Marvel- and Disney-themed baddies really helps drive home just how much content is in Infinity... and how in the Toy Box, rules for ‘this character only goes in this Play Set’ are forgotten.

Toy Box Takeover is great fun, and one of the many ways in which Infinity proves itself to be so flexible in terms of gameplay styles. Ultimately, it proves to be more of a grind-fest than I’d like for the price of $24.95 AUD. If the Takeover was included alongside the Toy Box Hub, I’d be a very happy man.

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Star Wars’ Twilight of the Republic” Play Set

I’m 600-odd words into this review and I haven’t really talked Star Wars yet. So, Star Wars. Cool sci-fi, eh?

In all honesty, Star Wars is a perfect fit for the Infinity franchise. The Clone Wars-style lends itself perfectly to the existing aesthetic, and lightsabres, force jumps and the whole kit work wonderfully in-engine. My only real complaint is that Disney Infinity 3.0’s Starter Pack comes with the “Twilight of the Republic” Play Set… or in other words, the one with podracing and Jar-Jar Binks.

Meesa wish I could shut that clown up.

“Twilight” is a weird combination of most of the plot of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace using a full-grown Anakin and his Clone Wars Padewan Ahsoka Tano. Additional figures that make appearances include Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and (eventually, when he’s available in November) Darth Maul. Cameos also include Mace Windu, Amidala and many more. It’s a great little recap of events and an even better excuse to use the force in Naboo, Tatooine, Coruscant and many more locales, with space battles thrown in for good measure.

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With Ninja Theory at the helm, Infinity has never been more about combos. While Ahsoka Tano is more of an offensive fighter, constantly pressing the attack, I found that Anakin Skywalker was kind of cheap to use. Holding the main attack button launches most opponents in the air, and while most Force-fighters have a special that push enemies away, Anakin pulls them in. Quite literally, it’s possible to run an infinite combo with Anakin, launching one opponent, pummeling them, pulling them back in and repeating. Once that baddie’s sorted, you merely pull another to you and continue on.

Playing as either a Jedi or a Sith is so deliciously good, but it comes with a weird learning curve. It’s definitely not a negative, but each Star Wars character plays uniquely enough that you really have to think about who you’re using and what they can do. It’s made more difficult when you consider that each character has its own skill tree and all will be at different XP levels to boot. This is made even more difficult compounded when in a non-Play Set mode (like the Toybox Takeover) and switching between Infinity’s different character silos. Traversal and combat with Anakin Skywalker — using Force Pull, Rush and Jump – is a very different thing than, say, Nova’s flight and super moves, or Rapunzel and her frying pan.

On “Hard” difficulty, the game truly is a challenge for kids and adults alike. I had no problems with the Play Set because I had a multitude of Star Wars figures to review with, but if you’re only rocking Anakin and Ahsoka, be prepared for disappointment. If both fall in quick succession, you may be forced to abort a mission if you’ve no other characters to swap in and out. That said, if you’ve forked out the cash for additional figures — and any of the Star Wars crew will work, provided you’ve found their singular Champion Coin (see the picture below for how “hidden” they are) — the game almost takes on a pay-to-win characteristic. But you’ll get it done.

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Space combat is an expected feature for any new game that features the words “Star Wars” and Infinity 3.0 delivers that in spades. It’s a mixed-bag, really. On the upside, you’re piloting myriad vehicles around various planets, blasting baddies left and right – it’s hard to fault that. Control-wise, things get a bit sketchy. I struggled with flight controls for the longest time, because my brain wanted ship controls to be inverted, but individual flight controls (again, I’m using Nova as the example) to be uninverted.

In the end, it was easier to train my brain to go uninverted with ships instead of swapping controls back and forth depending on the moment. Even then, movement in space is just… weird. Off. Enemies have 360 degree movement, but your ship really struggles to move up and down on the vertical axis. Even on hard, battles aren’t too taxing, so just go with it and do your best.

Star Wars’ Rise Against the Empire” Play Set [UPDATE — 16 October]

While those who picked up an exclusive Target bundle got to play with Luke, Leia and the rest of the original Star Wars crew at launch, the rest of us had to wait until mid-October for the pleasure.

The keyword there is “pleasure”.

I’m definitely showing my age, but Anakin, Amidala and company never really connected with me in a way that the original Star Wars characters did. The first set of heroes are rough and tumble, larger-than-life characters that inspired the imaginations of generations of children… not to mention their parents. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the “Rise Against the Empire” Play Set, summarising the events of the original Star Wars films, is my favourite of Infinity 3.0‘s sci-fi offerings.

Studio Gobo, developers of the “Pirates of the Carribean” Play Set in the original Infinity, is the main team behind “Rise Against the Empire”. The Play Set, while taking advantage of Ninja Theory’s work with combos and combat, is almost more about vehicle play — key moments include piloting your escape shuttle down to Tatooine, using Speeders on Endor, AT-STs on Hoth, X-Wings against the Death Star and A-Wings against dreaded AT-ATs. Studio Gobo has also put the most emphasis on everything being a toy in Infinity 3.0 to date, especially when pitted against those aforementioned gigantic walkers.

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The bottom line is, if you can think of a sequence in the Star Wars films, it’s most likely in the Play Set; you’ll be escaping garbage compactors one minute and fighting the Emperor the next. And of course, as with other Play Sets, you can take a break from the main storyline to do side-quests on Hoth, Endor and Tatooine if you so choose.

Character-wise, Leia, Chewbacca and Han play similarly and Luke is the master of everything, wielding both a lightsabre and blaster. Darth Vader, once unlocked via his Crossover Coin, is an utter beast, mowing down everything in his path. I’ve said it up there, but it needs to be said again: any Star Wars character in Infinity can be played in any Star Wars Play Set, providing you’ve found the Coin that corresponds to the character you want.

The pros and cons of this Play Set match “Twilight of the Republic”, so they don’t really need to be repeated… apart from one potentially major flaw. I understand that the storyline of the original three Star Wars films needed to be condensed quite a bit to make it into this one Play Set, but the liberties taken with “Rise Against the Empire” sometimes proved more than I could handle. I know it happened with Anakin and Ahsoka too, but the first three Star Wars films are classics, man. Classics.

Star Wars’ The Force Awakens” Play Set [UPDATE — 22 December]

“The Force Awakens” is the best Star Wars Play Set to date.

The first to deal with the events of a solitary film rather than a trilogy, Disney Infinity 3.0’s newest Play Set features a narrative that is very well paced and, more importantly, engaging. It does take some liberties here and there – Solo’s fate, Ren’s identity and Skywalker’s lightsaber are chief among the biggest bits of sacrilege — but for the most part, you’ll feel like you’re back in the theatre. It almost goes without saying that it pays to see The Force Awakens before even thinking about playing.

Conversely, “The Force Awakens” manages to put more space battles into its story than Abrams’ effort, pitting Poe Dameron’s X-Wing and the classic Millennium Falcon against waves of TIE Fighters and Star Destroyers. Even better, new, collectible hologames put an Asteroids-like spin on dogfighting, putting you in the cockpit of an X-Wing or TIE Fighter and setting you off on a top-down, twin-stick extravaganza. I whittled away hours on seven or eight different levels.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition

Further attention to detail is evident, from side-quests that highlight Rey’s scavenging nature and Finn’s troubled past, all the way to aged versions of Leia, Chewie and Han Solo in myriad cutscenes. In a bit of a missed opportunity, player versions of classic characters retain their original trilogy looks when placed on the Infinity base. Surely I’m not alone in saying I’d much prefer playing as a grizzled Solo rather than his fresh-faced counterpart.

While Rey and Finn come with the Play Set itself, Kylo Ren is hands down the best new “Force Awakens” character. He simply exudes power, with a frenzied, enraged fighting style that certainly matches his film’s counterpart. Rey comes a close second with Finn and Poe trailing behind. It takes about half the Play Set’s story to put a lightsabre into Finn’s hand; sadly, Rey goes without altogether.

Better still, each of The Force Awakens‘ actors — Daisy Ridley as Rey, Oscar Isaac as Poe, John Boyega as Finn and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren — lend their vocal talents to the game. Not only do genuine voices make “The Force Awakens” feel much more authentic, they make it painfully obvious that sound-alikes for Leia, Solo and company just don’t cut it.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition (2)

In a month where we’re seeing BB-8 oranges, “The Force Awakens” is a very high quality Star Wars product. If you’re a fan of the franchise or of Disney Infinity 3.0, you really can’t go wrong.

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Overall

There is so much to say about Disney Infinity 3.0 to say, I could go on for ages. In the end, it’s another massive innovation on a franchise that is practically bursting at the seams with… well, everything. The “infinity” bit of Infinity has never been more accurate. Despite a couple rough edges, gameplay is there. Replay value is there. Variety is definitely there. The one thing that hampers this amazing product is that it can easily turn into the most costly thing you ever take up.

If you’ve got the cash behind you, I can’t recommend Disney Infinity 3.0 enough.

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Disney Infinity 3.0 was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, alongside all Disney 3.0, Star Wars “Twilight…” and “Rebels” figures and the “Twilight…” Play Set and Power Discs, all as provided by the publisherInfinity 1.0 and 2.0 figures were also used for the review, as provided by the publisher for past reviews of Disney Infinity and Disney Infinity 2.0.

 

Review: Disney Infinity 3.0
8 out of 10

The good

  • Amazing, varied gameplay.
  • As its name suggests, infinite replay through Toy Boxes big and small.
  • An amazingly tight nostalgic romp through well-loved franchises.

The bad

  • Could bankrupt most parents or superfans quite easily.
  • Space controls are a bit wonky.

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