Wednesday, January 1, 2014

'Disney Infinity' in Progress… (Part 1)

Well folks, I got it… Yep, Disney Infinity.

Instead of doing a sort of complete review or "overall thoughts" thing, I thought I'd review it as I get through it. So far, I have completed the Monsters University adventure. I did quite a few of The Incredibles levels, and just began working on Pirates of the Caribbean. Suffice to say, I'm well enough into it.

Before I get started, I got this for PlayStation 3 and of course the starter pack comes with Mr. Incredible, Sulley and Jack Sparrow. I haven't bought any other characters or play sets yet, though I plan to very soon. Right now, I'm thinking of getting Mike Wazowski, Wreck-It Ralph and Lightning McQueen.

So what do I think of it?

I love it.

When Disney Infinity was announced, I saw a lot of potential in it because it was going to bring multiple Disney characters and their worlds together. Crossovers are always fun and all, but this is actually a great opportunity for Disney to popularize some characters from their more "obscure" (or "lesser", as they would apparently think) films and shows. So far, they seem to be doing that little by little. For example, in a promo image, The Lone Ranger's Tonto is riding the goofy elephant Tantor from Tarzan. While Tarzan was a popular hit for Disney back in the day, for some reason they treat it like the rest of the post-Lion King Renaissance films. Unfair, but Disney could boost that film through this game.

In fact, Tarzan should be a play set soon given the jungle setting and tree-surfing action. It made for a solid movie-based video game back when the film came out (I had the PlayStation version), and a decade before this game was released, Disney gave us the underrated Disney Extreme Skate Adventure. Sure it was pretty much a family-friendly Tony Hawk's Pro Skater with Disney characters, but Tarzan was one of the three films they chose for settings. The other two were the Toy Story films and The Lion King. Imagine that, Disney actually giving something like Tarzan something of a popularity boost…

But enough babble about Tarzan and the way Disney treats their not-Lion King films, the point is, Disney Infinity could help popularize some of the Disney films that Disney tends to push aside. I would certainly love to see worlds or toy box items based on Treasure Planet or Atlantis, or maybe even 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Infinite possibilities, they say…

To start off, what I like about Disney Infinity is how open-ended it is. For the remainder of the review, I'll be focusing on the Monsters University adventure since I beat it. Next review will focus on The Incredibles

Monsters University's adventure of course lets the player go around the campus itself, and you can also climb buildings and whatnot, getting a good look at everything. Like any good sandbox-style game, there's missions you have to take and there are also side challenges, and they're pretty damn fun! The story here is enjoyable too, basically you have to help Monsters University beat Fear Tech. Fear Tech is mentioned a few times in the film itself, though the rivalry between the two universities is ultimately minor: Sulley steals their freakish pig mascot, we see MU take them on in a football game and young Mike sees a Fear Tech graduate tell Frightening Frank McCay (the monster who Mike watched scare when he was little) monster that Fear Tech is better.

Anyways, you actually get to go to Fear Tech in this game and I must say, the designers did quite well with bringing it to life. It makes me want to see it in Pixar form, so I'm hoping the studio makes a Monsters University special or short film where we actually visit this competing campus. Will Party Central, whenever that comes out, take us there? Maybe. At Fear Tech, you have outsmart their students with pranks, get the message across that MU rules and for a grand finale… Steal Archie the Scare Pig!

In the mean time, you got to get the frat houses up, compete in a paintball tournament with Fear Tech students, undo the messes they brought to MU and many other things. It keeps you busy, and the story is surprisingly a little short. I'm hoping they expand it in some ways, because the setting alone is good-sized. Maybe we'll get more levels set in the Monster World outside of the university, maybe even Monsters, Inc. itself! One can dream, right?

The missions bring a lot of variety to the table, as they should. They test your abilities, too, from sneaking to climbing to bike riding. I admit it was pretty cool to run around roaring at things, and it's neat how you can ride across campus. (Surprised there's no skateboard for someone like Mike. That's a no-brainer, methinks!) If there's one complaint I have, it's that the missions are at times a bit too easy. I understand this is a family-friendly game, but I think it could've been a little more challenging. Some missions are just that, particularly some of the Fear Tech ones where you have to avoid the tough guy security guards. Non-mission activities such as challenges consist of timed puzzles and whatnot, making for some extra fun. You can also have a field day pranking your rivals with various objects that end up knocking the opponents across campus or something. Not to mention the ongoing search for Toy Box pieces and whatnot!

The graphics? They are impressive, and I think by making everything into toys, they were able to pull off a decidedly simplistic and cartoonish look. It's nice to look at, and of course, it's bursting with color and great art direction. The music at times can be repetitive, but what they have is a treat to the ears. Monsters University's backdrop recalls the jazzy tone of the first film's opening credits, rather than the bombastic score that Randy Newman did for the prequel. When you hit frat row, you get some rock while you get 80s synths when you visit Fear Tech (after all, Monsters University takes place in the mid-to-late 80s), other times… It's silent. This happens in Toy Box Mode too, the music just goes away for a while. But you know what? I kind of like that, a little breather and some silence, ya know?

Overall, while the Monsters University adventure was mostly a breeze in terms of the difficulty, it was undeniably fun. It was great to explore the campus, frat row and Fear Tech. The story was cool enough, and I'm hoping Pixar does some kind of special or something about MU vs. Fear Tech. I think that would be pretty cool.

As for Toy Box Mode, I'm already a huge fan.

I grew up playing games like Sim City, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon, so this is my kind of thing. Yes, I began building a world, though it is in its very early stages. I need to wait until I get even more toys and whatnot, but here it is so far… (If you are interested…)

What are your thoughts on Disney Infinity? Sound off below!

1 comment:

  1. hey nice post mehn. I like your style of writing. The way you writes reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog titled How To Build Up Passion In Whatever You Find Yourself Doing .
    keep up the good work.