Disney Infinity 2.0 Review

disney

 

Title: Disney Infinity 2.0
Developer: Disney Interactive Studios
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: Not Available Digitally
NA Availability: 
Retail

EU Availability: Retail
PSTV Support: Yes

Have you ever heard of the Figure Portal business model?  I would hope not, because I just made up the term all of five seconds ago.  What I am describing I do not believe has a proper, official terminology.  It is the business model that began with the game, Skylanders.  This game used an action-adventure video game with a physical accessory called a portal.  This portal allowed you to put character figures, most of which are bought separately from the game, on the portal to send information to the game and play as that character and have exclusive content for them.

The success of the Skylanders franchise brought about many competitors and spiritual successors as well.  Disney Interactive, Nintendo, and TT Games have all gone in on this in the form of their own games like LEGO Dimensions, or extensions of previous games, like the Nintendo Amiibos.  They all use the business model of buying figures outside of a game for exclusive or extra content.

Quite possibly the largest of these franchises is Disney Infinity.  Disney Interactive took the idea behind Skylanders and turned it into a large sand-box environment game that crossed dozens of Disney franchises together.  Even beyond that, they made a 2.0 update that added the Marvel universe into the mix and are in the process of a 3.0 update for the Star Wars universe.  Having recently released on the PS Vita, here is my official review of Disney Infinity 2.0!

Story

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Does Disney Infinity have a storyline to it?  In truth, it does, but it’s a very strange way of showing a story in a game.  With the business model that the game uses, story arcs are made available in the form of Play Set figures.  These often come with certain character figures, much like the Spider-Man Play Set that comes with the PS Vita Start Pack, alongside the Black Suit Spider-Man Character.  It’s worth noting that the PS Vita Start Pack is currently the only way to get the Black Suit Spider-Man character for any version of the game.  These Play Sets will give you story scenarios and sets of missions to play through in set environments and each Play Set is based on a specific franchise.

The Play Set that comes with the Starter Pack takes place in the universe of the Ultimate Spider-Man TV series.  In this plot, the Green Goblin has managed to clone the Venom Symbiote into an army of similar, but weaker symbiote monsters.  He and Mysterio then unleash this army onto the streets of New York.  In response, Spider-Man and his team of associates must work to put a stop to the two villains and the symbiote army.  This story can be played as many characters from Spider-Man to Nova to Venom.  However, it is the most appropriate to use Spider-Man, given some of the dialogue throughout this story arc.

The story of Disney Infinity is what you have.  You could have dozens of hours of story with Play Sets from both the Marvel and Disney sets.  However, with the Starter Pack, you have access to Spider-Man.  This is still a fun Play Set to go through and is considered one of the best 2.0 Play Sets available.

Gameplay

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First thing first, Disney Infinity is a sandbox action-adventure game with elements from a lot of different franchises.  Many aspects of it are similar to games like The Amazing Spider-Man and Ratchet and Clank, while other parts are like Minecraft and One Piece: Unlimited World Red.  The result is something with near-infinite possibilities, hence the title, Disney Infinity and the focus of the IN of Infinity throughout the entire game.

The next thing you should know is that Disney Infinity is not a digital title.  The way the game works is that you place figures on the Portal Base that connects via Bluetooth and that is how you interact with the game, be it official characters, story arcs, mini-games, or something else.  Because of this, the game cannot be played if you don’t have the portal connected as well as a character figure on the portal, allowing you to play as that character.  As a result, you must get the game in its retail form as well as the Bluetooth portal.

To take a moment to explain the character situation.  The game’s character roster is quite large.  There are Disney characters like Elsa and Buzz Lightyear and Marvel characters like Spider-Man and Captain America.  However, you cannot play as any character without their own character figure.  This is a retail-only option.  You cannot buy any of the characters digital.  You either buy the physical discs for the play sets or characters, or you can’t use them at all.  This is where the business model comes in.  It encourages you to spend money on figures to play as different characters or play sets.  The game doesn’t pressure you in-game, but that’s pretty much the gist of this type of game.

When you boot up the game, after the tutorial levels, you will gain access to all of the different game modes available to you.  Outside of figures for Play Sets and Power Discs (which allow you to play sets of mini-games of various genres), you have access to your Toy Box,               Community Content, Concept Gallery, Disney Infinity Collection, and the Options menu.  A Play Set will appear in this menu when you put it on the portal, though, or a dialogue box if you’re in the middle of playing the game.

Toy Box is the largest game mode you have at your disposal.  This allows you to do a lot of different things, from decorating your own home to visiting the hall of heroes and super heroes to learn about all of the different playable characters.  You can also focus on building and playing through your own custom worlds, based on materials, characters, enemies, items, and anything else you’ve unlocked elsewhere in the game.  A lot of this is unlocked by default, but you can unlock more by playing through Play Sets.

The creation goes through a lot of phases.  You have blank sandbox worlds or you can set up a default template, like a city or a jungle and go from there.  Once you place certain things, you can also mix up things and create objectives, dialogue boxes for story, portals to other areas, among other things.

Community Content is where you can go to access a lot more content and story past what the Play Sets can provide you with.  This is where you can go online to upload your creations to the Disney Infinity servers or download creations that others have made.  Aside from user-created levels, there are also a lot of story-based worlds that the Disney Infinity developers, themselves, have created and approved that you can download and play or stream and play without downloading.

The last two modes are Concept Gallery and Disney Infinity Collection.  These are not interactive modes, but more of a way to see artwork you’ve unlocked as well as how many of the total figures and discs you’ve managed to collect and use inside the game.

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Actually being inside and playing the game is like a sandbox-style action-adventure game.  The Spider-Man Play Set, for example, you could compare to The Amazing Spider-Man.  You have access to a huge open-world version of New York to explore, from the Statue of Liberty to the Daily Bugle to Avengers Tower and you will have key points to find where you can launch side-quests or story missions which will have you performing various objectives like attacking enemies, defending satellite arrays, or storming facilities to take part in boss fights with villains like Mysterio and the Green Goblin.  There are also collectible objects to find scattered around the city as you explore and fight off enemies.  These unlock items and artwork for use in other game modes.

The combat with enemies is the same throughout, though.  You have normal attacks and side attacks to use.  In Spider-Man’s case, you have physical attacks, web attacks, and an ultimate attack called Web Barrage that may only be used when you fight enough to fill up a Super Meter.  Defeating enemies or completing missions give you experience points where you can level up and gain skill points that allow you to unlock new skills and enhancements via your character’s skill tree.

Aside from the exclusion of the multiplayer modes (other than uploading/downloading creations), this is the full Disney Infinity 2.0 experience you can get on other consoles in a portable package.  The game is very large and can take a lot of time away from you.  While each play set may only take a few hours to play through, going through all of the official Community Content and creating your own worlds can burn dozens, if not hundreds of hours.

Controls

Controlling Disney Infinity will be no hard task.  There are some touch controls to be noted of.  When you’re in creation mode, you can tap the top-left portion of the touch screen to go into a menu for different items.  You can tap the top-right portion of the touch screen to unleash your ultimate attack in combat.  Both of these are redirected towards the L and R triggers when playing on the PlayStation TV.

When you’re playing through the game, you’ll be using the Left Analog Stick to move your character and the Right Analog Stick to move the camera.  The D-Pad isn’t used for movement, but is used for cycling through menus.  The face buttons do most of the interactions.  The X button can be used to jump and fly/web-swing.  The Square button is used to interact with objects, enemies, and people.  Triangle is used for physical attacks.  Finally, the Circle button is used for blocking and dodging.

The triggers are used as well.  The R trigger is used for your secondary attacks.  The L trigger is used to manually aim your attacks.  When you’re playing this game on the PlayStation TV, these are redirected to the L2 and R2 buttons.

Presentation

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Here is where the game gets tricky.  I will not lie to you.  How the game plays is a serious element that will be a deciding factor on whether or not you believe this game is worth the purchase.  First off, the visual presentation took a fair hit on its transition to the Vita.  The character models do have a smooth effect to them, but there isn’t as much detail as the console release.  There is also some slight blurs as a result of this, like looking at the spider on Spider-Man’s costume.

The real thing to watch for is how the game plays.   There is one major technical problem the game runs into, and that is the frame-rate.  In almost every area of the game, Disney Infinity struggles to keep a solid frame-rate.  I’ve been told it doesn’t run that well on consoles like the PS3 either, but when you’re playing the game, expect to almost never see a smooth and clean frame-rate as you’re playing through the game.  The more enemies are on-screen, the worse it will get.

I make such emphasis on this because of how it directly affects some parts of the game.  It is entirely doable and workable throughout most of the Spider-Man Play Set, but it makes the final boss of that story arc much more difficult than it should be.  I’m not saying the game isn’t playable, but it is very hard to adjust to, especially with how the frames jump up and down depending on your location.

The other downside of the presentation are the load times.  When you load a sequence, you could be waiting 15, 20, 30 seconds or more for something to load.  If you decided to stream community levels instead of downloading them, expect them to be even longer.  This is also right there with the load times of the console release, but they are very long, all the same.

Summary

Disney Infinity 2.0 is the full Infinity experience on the go with the PS Vita.  On the downside, multiplayer has been removed, the visuals took a hit, and there are some considerable frame rate and loading issues.  If you can look past a good bit of technical issues, this can still be an enjoyable experience or a way for previous players to get their hands on the Black Suit Spider-Man figure.

6/10

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