Disney Infinity Preview: A Whole Familiar World

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I got some hands on time with Disney Infinity lately, and it made me glad that I don’t have any kids because I wouldn’t have hands on time with money after this game. I honestly wasn’t expecting more than a typical kids game, but Disney Infinity is so much more than that. In a strange way it is like a range of AAA titles scaled for a child’s world. Part Minecraft, part Assassin’s Creed, part Crash Bandicoot, Disney Infinity is a force to be reckoned with.

Disney is all about the wonder and joy of discovering a new world, new story, new characters. People love those characters – just go to any Disney World and you will see people posing with all their favorites. It’s designed to be magical and exhilarating. Whatever you may think of Disney, it has a way of striking nostalgia into the hearts of adults and awe into that of children. Disney Infinity gives the player the world of Disney. Your imagination can run wild with the tools of the Disney universe. Even as an adult, playing with Disney Infinity made me feel giddy and child-like. I didn’t want to stop.
 
 
I started by loading up as Captain Jack Sparrow. No, the game isn’t like the movie – this isn’t a Pirates of the Caribbean game. However, the character is very true to form. He talks, moves and interacts in ways we expect from him. Attention to detail is key – not only is the Jack Sparrow figurine beautifully crafted, his depiction in game is spot on. I particularly enjoyed his fluid movements and agility. After playing as him, I switched to playing as Sully from Monsters University. What a difference! While the controls were equally easy and intuitive, it felt like I was controlling a tank.
 
A sweet, adorable, fluffy tank. Perhaps it helped that the figurine for Sully was heavier than the one for Jack, or maybe it was the difference in powers, or maybe it was the mini games and their diverse abilities. Whatever the cause, it made me feel giddy. Characters can be picked up and dropped into the game, their powers can be swapped and boosted, and you can even re-skin the entire world. Boosts and skins come as separate items in booster packs reminiscent of Tazos; prepare for playground trading!
 
The game block comes with three campaigns, one for each of the starter pack characters. You can change characters from the same franchise  within the game, but not use them in different play sets; I could use any of the characters from the Incredibles in their game, but not play as Sully in the Incredibles. I worry that this might cause some conflict for children – if they want to play as Sully, they only want to play as Sully in all the games. Plus, each of the characters are leveled up individually, with that information stored within the figurine. Why swap characters when your’s is so high level?
 
Disney Infinity new wave
 
The individual games let you run around and complete mission. There’s your typical mission log, with goals ranging from exploration to plot-based adventures. As you complete the campaigns, you unlock new items for your Toy Box, which is the heart and soul of the game. While the campaigns were fun for the brief time I had with them, I’m not sure if they will provide the depth and breadth to keep anyone (child or adult) entertained for very long. Hopefully, this drawback can be overcome with the Toy Box, which allows for infinite options and creativity.
 
I was surprised to see how different the game was for 3DS compared to consoles. The console versions were easy to pick up and play, with a range of game play and options. The 3DS version, on the other hand, was designed like a themed board game with each step along the way serving as a mini game. It was fun, but not nearly as innovative as the game is on other platforms. I can’t help but wonder why they made that design choice.
 
 
All in all, I was very impressed with what I saw from Disney Infinity. Combining the Disney universe with recognizable characters, it is unique and refreshing. I hope that the campaigns have enough to keep kids entertained – while the Toy Box is a fantastic tool, it is very much like Minecraft; it is only as interesting as your imagination makes it.
 
While kids have enormous creative abilities, I am not sure how well they will be channeled by the Toy Box. I suppose the experience will vary depending on the player – there are plenty of opportunities if you choose to explore them.
 
 

Last Updated: August 19, 2013

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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