by Brian Robbins
Let’s be honest, for the past five years (possibly even before that) Disney games have been pretty bad. There may have been a couple of good ones (Epic Mickey) but overall the games weren’t great. But Disney has been busy lately with Disney Infinity, the mouse house’s version of Skylanders. This may scare parents, as it should. It’s expensive, and obviously doesn’t work with any of your Skylander accessories. If you want to indulge your kids in this adventure, it’s going to be at least $75. It’s not all frowns and tears, though, because the game is actually pretty darn good.
The whole basis of the game is that you play as one of Disney’s main characters. You have a whole lot to choose from from the outset, ranging from Pirates of the Caribbean to Cars. You have these levels called Playsets that only characters from that brand can run around in. For example, the starter pack has The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean and Monsters Inc. Playsets included– you can’t have Jack Sparrow running around in The Incredibles campaign.
That being said, there is a Toybox mode. This is basically Halo‘s forge mode on steroids. As you progress through each brand’s storyline you unlock different accessories to play with– basically, it’s a level editor. I’ve seen crazy contraptions such as a paintball field to even a skyscraper obstacle course. Hopefully, kids and parents have enough time and patience on their hands to build something fun and original they can play around in. It seems most of the development time went into this idea, and it’s as fun as you make it.
Going back and actually talking about how the Playsets work, think of Skylander levels only much broader in terms of what you can do. Unlike Skylanders, there’re plenty of other activities other than just going around beating up on stuff. For example, in the Cars level you can tow other vehicles to customize their paint job and accessories. One huge thing about the Playsets is that each one has many things to gather and unlock, and all of the unlockables will carry over to the Toybox mode (which is really a neat way to collect).
With Skylanders the whole game only took about 8-10 hours to complete but with Disney Infinity each Playset is around 6 hours in length. If you do the math, the Starter Pack that introduces you to the game includes three Playsets. You’re looking at around 18 hours of gameplay from those alone not including the Toybox mode. It’s a pretty good deal; plus, unlike Skylanders, you can invite your friends to join you in adventures in both modes.
As for gameplay, it’s pretty basic. Nothing is really developed in terms of combat, or as far as platforming goes. Granted, there are differences in character abilities: Sully from Monsters Inc has a special ability that makes him roar and Jack Sparrow has a musket for long range takedowns. The only ones that act differently are the Cars characters because their basic movement is on wheels. This can also lead to difficulties with precision but nothing too worrisome.
One of my main issues with the game was the slow framerate. Disney Infinity is a pretty game but for that cost you have reduced performance. The Monsters Inc. Playset was atrocious along with the Incredibles one just because of the framerate issue. There was so much going on that the game would stutter quite a bit. Kids may not notice it but it’s a problem with the game- they should’ve reduced the actions on screen in order to make it a smooth gameplay experience.
Another issue with the game is that it came out so late. The new generation consoles will be coming out very shortly, and this game will probably not be compatible with the new systems because the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One aren’t backwards compatible. This is an investment and who knows how crazy they’re going to get with it. We’re already getting Nightmare Before Christmas characters along with Toy Story ones before the end of the year!
At the end of the day, this game in my opinion is a far better option than Skylanders. With the Disney empire owning Star Wars and Marvel can we see them release characters from those franchises too? Only time will tell. With Skylanders: Swapforce showing much of the same I feel like Disney Infinity trumps it not only with gameplay but with actual character choices. Disney Infinity looks like the game for parents to get for their kids this holiday season. Let’s just hope Disney works out some of the kinks before the next one.