Developed by Avalanche Software. Published by Disney. Available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One (reviewed), Wii U. Released September 23, 2014. Copy provided by publisher.
While interning at Walt Disney World back in 2004, I discovered the true power of believing in magic. Magic is real and exists in the minds of everyone as long as you have the key to unlocking it. Cast members were able to impart the experience of true wonder in children and adults alike simply by providing the tools needed to unleash one’s imagination. Disney Infinity 2.0 seeks to bring these tools into the home, where the power of imagination can take flight, right from the comfort of your couch.
Disney Infinity 2.0 is Disney’s latest foray into collectible toy gaming. It takes the same formula from 2013’s Infinity 1.0 edition, revamping it into a more robust experience, while also correcting past mistakes and shortfalls. I outlined these in my Disney Infinity 1.0 review, which you can find here.
Infinity is the collectible love child of an action-adventure game married to sandbox world building. It includes physical toys with which to unlock unique story driven gameplay adventures, called Play Sets, and open world creation in a separate mode called the Toy Box. Characters, Play Sets and other features are brought into the game using figurines and discs with the included Infinity Base
Players can easily swap between characters and adventures or add items to their gameplay simply by swapping out what is on the base. It is this tangible nature that children will immediately connect with, allowing them agency in their gameplay similar to a complex game of make-believe. Adults will find the process a cumbersome, but worthwhile trade off if you fancy fantastically detailed plastic figurines gracing your desk when not at play. Otherwise, be prepared with ziplock bags of various sizes to organize your clutter-prone collection.
Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes is one of two Infinity 2.0 starter packs available and forms the basis for this review – the second starter pack won’t be available until November. Simply put, it’s Infinity 2.0 reveling in the Marvel universe, which was recently added to the Disney empire. The starter pack includes the Infinity Base, three characters (Thor, Iron Man, and Black Widow), and the Avengers Play Set. Two additional Marvel Play Sets are available for Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, with corresponding character figurines, for fifteen characters in total. In the Avengers Play Set, you’ll find yourself in a bite-sized Manhattan (The Manhattan Bridge Arch & Colonnade? Yes. Central Park? No.) with Loki on the loose, threatening to plunge its inhabitants into a deep freeze. You’ll be expected to defeat his frost minions over (and over) and over again while you save the city from Loki’s supervillain grip. For Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll have to buy their individual expansions.
Adventures are pure fun, plain and simple. I caught myself saying “Wow!” the first time I soared through the urban sky on an endless network of Spidey’s webs. Each adventure comes with roughly five hours of story-driven gameplay, with challenges and collectible game unlocks providing a seemingly endless challenge. Mix that with different characters, each with their own unique flavor and feel, and you’ll find yourself plunging right into their capes, each imparting a distinct super hero flavor, coloring each experience.
While simple fun for adults, it is important to remember that adventures are built with kids in mind. Every mission has clear UI markers and indicators. If this wasn’t enough to keep your tiny tot on track, mission givers will constantly, albeit annoyingly, remind you of your goals to keep you focused. With four to five hours’ worth of structured gameplay, you will find yourself being reminded a lot. Mission objectives themselves can be somewhat repetitive, although increasingly difficult, allowing children to learn and grow into more complicated tasks within the adventure. The repetitive nature of missions will leave the game feeling bland for adults, so buyer beware if complex and varied gameplay pre-provided in the form of adventures is what you’re after. But, that’s where the Toy Box comes in.
Toy Box mode is where the upgrades to Infinity 2.0 really shine. The entire Toy Box experience has been revamped, eliminating most of the problems I outlined in my Disney Infinity 1.0 review. Object snapping now works flawlessly and the toy cap has been increased, allowing for more detailed and connected designs. There is also the addition of a robust toy filing system, allowing you to find exactly what you are looking for more easily. Doors, unlocked via the tutorial, even allow you to link separate toy boxes together. 2.0 also comes with additional logic creation toys, themed arrangements with procedurally-buildable worlds. Pre-assembled templates, complete with logic tools now provide a starting point for those plagued with sandbox creators block, like myself. The addition of core action restrictions allows for players to create structured games within the Toy Box, shareable either with friends via multiplayer or via cloud sharing, allowing others to play your creation while you’re offline. Combine that with the new Disney Interior, a customizable home you can use as a base center for all your creations and collectibles, and the worlds you can create are seemingly limited only by the toys to your avail and your own imagination.
Items for your Toy Box are not immediately available. There are a handful of items initially provided that will give you somewhere to start, but the vast majority are locked. Some of the items are unlocked through gameplay progression in Play Set adventures. Others, you must purchase using the blue spark in-game currency. Don’t worry, these are not microtransactions. Sparks are mainly collected by defeating enemies and breaking items in adventures and you’ll easily find yourself sitting on a pile of 20,000 or so after a single adventure playthrough. They can also be collected by interacting with a multitude of items in the Toy Box.
You can even share and download pre-made Toy Boxes, created by Disney and Infinity community member alike, through a community share center. You can access up to 100,000 Toy Boxes for download, although there aren’t 100,000 Toy Boxes currently available. Short on console storage space? Private cloud storage allows players to save up to 300 different Toy Boxes before having to worry about deleting your favorite vintage creations. Add it all up, and you are looking at endless hours of creation and play.
Sadly, you’re going to be disappointed with the multiplayer. Infinity 2.0 supports online multiplayer for up to 4-players in the Toy Box, which is fantastic for long distance playdates. Unfortunately, there is no online multiplayer support for Play Set adventures. Oh sure, there’s 2-player couch co-op, but the baffling exclusion of online support makes this feel more like a starter edition from the 90s than what the latest and greatest has to offer.
If you’ve already bought into the original Disney Infinity 1.0 released last year, you’ll be pleased to note the 1.0 figures are forward compatible with the 2.0 Toy Box. By simply placing the 1.0 figurines on the 2.0 Infinity Base, you will unlock access to the corresponding toy set. In addition, 1.0 characters will be upgraded to the new 20 level cap with their own, new skill tree. Unfortunately, you can’t play any of the original Play Set adventures and none of the items from Infinity 2.0 will work with the old edition.
All told, Disney Infinity 2.0 is a major Toy Box overhaul from the original with minor enhancements to be found in Play Set adventures. Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes offers an immersive superhero experience for children and simple play for adults. Play set adventures may come off as bland and repetitive compared to some of their 1.0 counterparts, a negative for adult gamers. But ultimately, keep in mind this game is made for children ages 6 and up, who will revel in the structured progression and familiar goal sets.
Bottom Line: As a children’s game, Disney Infinity 2.0 definitely delivers an adorable casual game experience. But as a game solely for grown-ups, it’s a little lackluster due to repetition and lack of online play in the current Play Sets available for Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes.
Recommendation: Disney Infinity is still a must-have game for gamer families with children of all ages, but Infinity 1.0 owners and those who love the Disney fantasy universe and could care less about Marvel may want to wait until the Toy Box Starter Pack is released in November.[rating=4.5]