Monday, 16 September 2013

Disney Infinity

Apparently I took half of the summer off of writing. Now that the fall gaming flood is upon us, I figure I should probably get back to it. I'll start with a sort of review of Disney Infinity. I haven't played through all that Infinity offers yet, so this is more along the lines of an in-depth impression, since I have put several hours in to the game.

I'll start off by saying I'm a bit fan of Skylanders. It's a guilty pleasure of mine. I like the simple platforming/action gameplay, I think the character designs are cool, and I think it was such a great idea to make real life toys come to life in the game. I am fully aware the toy thing is a gimmick, but I find Activision really found a way to make it feel less gimmicky. The ability to use your Skylanders figures essentially as you "lives" in the game makes swapping and choosing figures an integral part of the experience. I haven't gone crazy collecting every single figure like some people have, but I have a few and like I said, it's a guilty pleasure when I'm looking for a simple game.

With that out of the way, I wasn't 100% sold on Disney Infinity when it was first announced, and to be honest, even after launch it took me a while to warm up to it. It just felt like a "me too" kind of deal, and I was already happy with Skylanders, so why did I need a new "figure" game? After my girlfriend caught wind of Infinity and realized what it was all about, she was actually the one that talked me in to getting it. I'll get in to the different sets and things in a bit, and I have to say, overall I've been enjoying the game, but it does feel like more of a gimmick than Skylanders does so far. I can say, for the most part, the comparisons between Skylanders and Infinity pretty much start and end with the use of figures. The games are completely different in style, execution, and pretty much every other aspect I can think of.

The problem I'm having with Infinity it is that the toys are only playable in their own sets. The game comes with 3 toys and 3 sets, Monsters U, Pirates, and The Incredibles. Sadly, you can't just go ahead and take Sully or Mr. Incredible in to the Pirates play set and have them sail the seas with Jack Sparrow, so if you want to play multiplayer you're forced to spend another $30-35 on an extra set of characters. Unlike Skylanders, which allows you to swap out characters at will, once you place your figures on the Infinity base and start your game, there's really no reason to move them until you want to play another set. Like I said, I felt like swapping characters in Skylanders helped me feel like having a collection of figures played in to the strategy of the game. With Infinity I'm reminded how useless the figures are most of the time. I'm aware you can save experience on your figures, and bring them to a friends house, so I suppose if I was doing that sort of thing I'd like it better, but my figures stay at home.

The only way Infinity redeems itself with the use of figures is in the Toy Box. In Toy Box, you're basically left to do whatever you want. You can create worlds, games, and pretty much anything your imagination can come up with. You can also download created worlds directly from Disney and other players. In this mode, you can also swap figures when you want, and all the characters can play together from different sets. This mode is really cool, and I haven't even scratched the surface of it to be honest, so I won't talk about it too much more.

Overall, I find Infinity's use of figures a little bit gimmicky, but to be honest I'll be fine with that as long as they keep releasing sets that expand the game without having to buy a new base or main disc. It can be pricey, but it's fun and there's a ton to do. Like I said, the sets are $35 each, and each of them gives you a full game to add to your collection. Each individual set is like picking up a whole new game. The Pirates set is an action adventure game with platforming, wall running, swashbuckling action, AND awesome sea battles. Incredibles is a straight old school beat em up. I love it! Monsters U is more of a stealth prank game, with some really fun and different tasks to achieve. These three packed in games are really like getting three separate games, so the price really seems to be worth it when you factor that in, plus remember the endless possibilities of Toy Box mode. Purchasing the Cars set gives you two characters and an open world racing game for $35. It's not bad at all, and I think I'll keep getting different sets based on some of my favourite movies as long as they keep releasing them.

To close, I think Infinity is a great game. It's a little expensive to get things set up, but once you have the main set and some extra figures for multiplayer, and realize how much there is to do in the game, it really has a great value. Buying extra sets for $35 is cheaper than buying a new game, but feels like one. One final gripe I do have with the game is the use of power disks for in game items and exclusive power ups. I actually don't mind the concept of power disks too much, but they come in blind bags. At $5 for a bag of two, they're not too bad, but buying 4 bags over the past few weeks I've ended up with three duplicates of one disk, and two duplicates of another. I will not buy another blind pack. Screw that, I have other things to spend my hard-earned money on. Open the packs up, let me chose which ones I want, and I'll spend the money, but until then, sorry, I'll deal with the built-in power ups and items. Despite a few kinks, I think Disney Infinity is going to be a fun game and a good value overall, and I think it's going to be a great success. Now just bring on the Marvel sets, shut up, and take my money!

- Mark