Preview: Disney Infinity
Disney is a name synonymous with adventure, fun and childhood dreams. With a long spanning career of some amazing movies, the transition to games was only logical. For years this mixture of great storytelling and advanced technology (well, as advanced as it was way back then) worked well, creating some of the most memorable gaming experiences, but in recent years this quality has dipped somewhat, leaning more towards the dreaded licensed game. So when I heard about Disney tackling the ‘toy box’ with Disney Infinity, using a system much similar to Skylanders which utilised toy figures and a power portal as a means of offering tradeable upgrades, I was dubious as to whether this would be a great game or simply a cash cow. Luckily I got the chance to get my hands on Disney infinity in full and I can safely say it’s great! Not only does it looks downright cool (yes I know I’m an adult) using some fantastic models and a well made base station or ‘Infinity Base’, it is also pure fun.
Made by Avalanche Studios, who are pretty much the kings of the sandbox game, Disney Infinity truly lives up to the quality you would expect from them with their past track record. Split into two main game modes, Play Set and Toy Box, there’s something for everyone whether you’re after a structured list of objectives or you want complete freedom to do whatever you wish.
Play Set mode is made up of pre-built environments based upon particular movie universes, for example Cars, The Lone Ranger and Monsters University are some of the confirmed playsets and while you’re still free to explore to your heart’s content, there are still missions available. The major draw back to Play Set is that you can’t mix characters, it is forbidden! So if you’ve got a game going as Sully from Monsters Inc, your friend down the road who has got Captain Jack Sparrow is out of luck if he thinks you’ll be teaming up anytime soon. That’s where Toy Box Mode comes in, any character from any universe can jump in and get creating and creation is really at the heart of what makes Disney Infinity so much fun.
Starting off on a small piece of land floating off into space, you can add any terrain you can think of to build your dream playground. From there you can add any of the huge list of set pieces, buildings, vehicles and NPCs from the vast Disney back catalogue. Your creations aren’t just static objects, left to be walked around or simply seen, anything you build is completely interactive. Characters you bring into the world will live out their intentions, whether that’s the playing cards from Alice in Wonderland hunting you down with spears, or your typical fluffy critters wandering the plains in search of… well, whatever it is they search for.
There’s a huge list of vehicles for you to create as well, ranging from cars to helicopters, but even these familiar vehicles are up for some editing. I enjoyed picking out the Cinderella carriage (hey, don’t judge me) and packing it out with missile launchers and machine guns.Once you’ve pimped your ride, you could, if you wanted, to build a race track and set it up to work like a legitimate racer, complete with lights, time limits, victory circles, the whole shabang! Think Mario Kart mixed with Disney and race tracks so wild, only your imagination is the limit. It doesn’t stop there either, fancy some capture the flag or paintball fun? That’s there too!
Controls are pretty straight forward, feeling like a typical action platformer, you’re able to equip a multitude of items to help in playtime but the most important tool in your arsenal is the Wand. This lets you bring whatever you want into or out of the Toy Box, you can go completely wild. Don’t like the green grass? That’s fine, make that section, or the whole world, look like the grid from Tron! You want some paddling pools around? Maybe a fan to help you fly up to that pesky ledge you can’t reach? Go for it! The Wand is also how you’ll set up functions and games, allowing you to tag pressure buttons and teleports with all kinds of toys. The simple pressure pad activated fan, or booby trap pendulum was something I enjoyed littering my playground of destruction with.
The beautiful thing is just how simple creation is, go into build mode, select your item then place it or delete it. It’s even simpler and smoother than a Sims game (which really is an achievement). The big question though, is just how much of this fun is included straight out of the box?
Well Disney Infinity boasts over one thousand toys to play with, but some of these items will be contained on ‘power discs’ which once placed on the Infinity Base will pop straight into your game. Set to be sold in random packs of two, the hopes are to build a buzz and rich community that will encourage the swapping of doubles. Think of this as the new generation of stickers and trading cards. I actually found this a rather nice idea, although the choice to link some achievements with items that you’ll have to search out through these packs is a little hard-hearted, after all gaming is about sharing the fun with others right?
The sharing even goes multi-platform, as any game character or power disc you’ve got for the Xbox 360 can be used with a friend who maybe made the unfortunate choice of buying a PS3. This multi-platform crossover is the first of its kind and clearly shows Disney’s vision of kids (and big kids) getting together with all their friends and having a lot of fun.
Overall I had a blast playing Disney Infinity and exploring everything you could do – it was great to see Avalanche Studios’ evidently hard work paying off. With Infinity the sky really is the limit, and with so much freedom to create (and destroy) I’m more than sure that any gamer of any age and experience will have a blast! Give it a go, and release the child inside!