Saturday, December 27, 2014

'Disney Infinity 2.0' Review in Progress

Disney Infinity was a game I played and played and played... For me, a diehard Disney fanatic, it was a dream come true. It was a game where you got to play as several different Disney and Pixar characters, but you also got to build your own Disney worlds and do tons of other things...

Naturally, given the fact that the game requires you to go out and buy the figures of the characters (that's the only way you get to play as them), and accessories such as power discs, Disney and Avalanche Studios would go ahead and make a second game for the current-gen consoles since the original was released before the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One came out. The only current-gen console it was on was the WiiU.

Then of course you've got the Marvel acquisition and the amount of Marvel Cinematic Universe installments. The likes of The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and other Marvel faces were ripe for Disney Infinity...

Before I dive right into the sequel, titled Disney Infinity [2.0] (or Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes, whatever you want to call it), I'll give a rundown of what I thought of the first game since I never really finished the multi-part review of it.

Disney Infinity was mostly satisfying in many areas. Toy Box mode let you do so much, and I would just spend so much time building worlds that combined elements from several Disney films. I mostly built racetracks, since I love racing games and autos in general. Naturally, in the first few weeks I had the game, I only had the three play sets to work off of and characters that come with the game itself. The game came with the figures for the younger Monsters U version of Sulley, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Mr. Incredible.

Toy Box was where you got to live your dreams. And by that I mean, if you ever wanted to see something crazy like Mr. Incredible riding Archie the scare pig up Pride Rock and into an Alice in Wonderland-themed environment carrying a Pirates of the Caribbean-style blunderbuss, then this game was for you! That's just one of many possibilities, you get the idea...

Toy Box for me, was the real meat of the game. Growing up I loved PC games like Zoo Tycoon, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Sierra's Lionel Train Town (I have a feeling not too many people know that game), and especially Sim City! Games where I just got to make my own world, organize it my way, that was always what I liked: In both toys and games... So Disney Infinity's Toy Box mode was not only right up my alley, but also the sole reason - for me - to own the game. It didn't wear off...

The play sets on the other hand were kind of a mixed bag. I think this might've had to have done with the amount of space you can put on a PS3 or Xbox 360 disc (I had the PS3 version), because you can make some pretty good-sized toy boxes. Some play sets were better than others, but on the whole they were mostly a little too easy and at times got pretty repetitive. But I understand that the Toy Box is the real deal, I had the most fun there, plus there were custom challenges and tracks and such uploaded by users that also gave me my gameplay fix. Characters had their own specific mini games that came with them, so that added to everything else. Overall it was a solid good game, I'd probably give it an 8.5...

Now, does Disney Infinity [2.0] improve upon its predecessor? Yes and no.

Well, I can't really say "no" yet because I've only played the play set that came with it: The Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy's play set and a Spider-Man one are sold separately. (Spidey's not part of the MCU yet, but Disney/Marvel has the merchandising rights to the character.)

The play set for The Avengers was just alright. Like a good chunk of the 1.0 play sets, it was repetitive and short. The New York setting also wasn't very impressive to me, I found the settings in the first game's play sets to be far more immersive and intriguing. Here, we've just got snowy New York with a handful of pedestrians and cars of the same make and model. It looks fine, graphics-wise, but I thought the art direction was just alright. The missions? Beating up frost giants and keeping said frost giants from destroying valuable things. That's basically it... It also surprisingly has a lack of challenges, too.

Despite my problems with the play sets in the first game, they did have variety. For example, Pirates had you battling ships, sword-fighting enemies, exploring distant islands, and occasionally having to customize your ship. Monsters University had challenges ranging from sneaking around Fear Tech to undoing the rival university's mischief, all the while sticking it to them.

This cool (pun shamelessly intended) base for
your figures comes with the deluxe set...

What made the play sets in Disney Infinity worth playing again and again after beating them was the fact that they were abundant in challenges. Challenges such as racing against the clock, collecting [x] amount of objects in a short period of time, defeat [x] amount of enemies... You get the drift. The Avengers play set only has a few for some reason. They're fun, sure, but I would've liked to have seen a little more to be honest. (To be fair, you can use some Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man characters in the Avengers play set such as Rocket Raccoon and Nova. I don't have them yet. Not sure if they give you more challenges or missions.)

The good thing is, the characters all control well and this time you've got this cool new thing called the Skill Tree. Like Disney Infinity, you have to level up these characters. In the first game, it got you sparks and spins that you could use the Vault. (I'll get to that, for those who didn't play 1.0.) Here, it gets you new abilities. It's even applied to the 1.0 characters as well! You can give the characters a health boost, give them the ability to cause more damage to enemies, higher jumps, and so on. I like updating the first game's characters, too. It was a bit surreal to see the likes of Wreck-It Ralph or Jack Sparrow or Francesco do a floaty jump or something like that! Even better, it gives you a reason to keep playing with those 1.0 characters.

But more importantly, all six Avengers were great fun to play as. Seriously, flying around as Iron Man or Thor couldn't be any more satisfying! Throwing Mjinor, Hulk smashing the ground, throwing the vibranium red-white-and-blue shield. So much fun. They knocked it out in that department, I just wish their play set was a little better and little more diverse. Could've done more than just beating up frost giants, saving people from frost giants, and protecting objects from frost giants.

I have yet to play the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man play sets. Those will be covered in Part 2. I hear good things about the latter, so we'll see. I can't say exactly how the play set mode in this game fares in all, but I just thought the Avengers play set was simply okay. I also assume that we'll see more play sets sometime next year.

Toy Box mode on the other hand... They improved it. And how!

You can make significantly bigger and more-detailed toy boxes, a real plus there. There's an extremely wide variety of objects to use, and easy ways to use them. If you don't want to slowly put together a Fantasyland-themed cottage or a DunBroch castle out of the multiple pieces they give you (windows, doorways, bases, etc.), you can have a creator or a little builder to do it for you. The "creator", you simply place on a terrain piece, and it builds you something out of those pieces. The objects appear right out of thin air. The "builder" on the other hand is a little fella (for instance, the Brave creator is a mini King Fergus, the city creator is a mini Fix-It Felix, Jr., etc.) who whips it up while it walks around the area.

The other major improvement is the addition of the "Undo" button. Let's just say you made a couple little mistakes. Just one push of a button and it's gone. You go back to what you did and where you did it. Makes the process a whole lot easier.

So all of that to go along with the massive amount of toys you get... You can of course port over everything you have from the first game, and if you didn't have the first game, you can get all of the toys from it anyways, just not the ability to play as the characters. You still have to go out and purchase the figures to do that. The game now has a currency system where you can buy toys. Tons of them, actually. Everything from 1.0 and then some! There's a ton of new stuff that's already available!

Disney Infinity [1.0] started you off with like two basic color schemes for terrain pieces, two basic skydomes (a simple partly cloudy sky one, and a nighttime WDW-esque lake one), and enough objects to get you started. If you wanted stuff from the play sets in 1.0, you had to play the sets themselves and unlock everything there. Some objects were hidden in chests with the characters' faces on them, and you needed said characters to unlock those. For non-play set characters like Ralph, Anna, Elsa, et al., they had their treasure chests as well. They basically appeared at random in Toy Box mode.

For the new play sets, yes, you have to unlock specific items there. Many other items are available on power discs, this applies to both stuff you would normally find in play sets and stuff meant for the Toy Box.

Disney Infinity [2.0] allows you to buy a boatload of toys right off the bat, with its new toy store feature. The vault from the first game is no more. In the first game, every time you leveled up your character, you got a spin. Use it in the vault, get a random toy, hope it's the one you want, yadda yadda yadda. Like a few hours in, I had all these cool toys. The blue sparks you collect in the play sets and elsewhere are your currency. They start you off with a good selection too! I immediately got my hands on the skydomes for The Jungle Book, Atlantis, Big Hero 6, good stuff! Ditto the terrain colors!

Right off the bat I built a racetrack, and like my 1.0 racetracks, it blends different Disney films and parks into one big thing: Fantasyland, The Jungle Book, Aladdin, AtlantisThe Incredibles, The AvengersBig Hero 6. Here's a vid of it...

One of the best things about Toy Box mode and the game in general is the fact it was obviously made by hardcore Disney fanatics. Almost everything gets something of a reference in the two games, whether it's a not-so-well-known Disney Animation film (Jim Hawkins' solar surfer from Treasure Planet is accessible thanks to a power disc) or a mostly forgotten live-action film (there's a power disc that allows you to ride Gus the mule! From 1976's Gus! Ever hear of it?), or even Disney Television Animation efforts like Darkwing Duck or more recent series like Gravity Falls. They try to appeal to every Disney fan here, and I wholly appreciate that!

Lastly, I'd like to mention the Toy Box Games, even though I didn't get quite immersed in those yet. If you get the Disney Infinity 2.0 Avengers starter pack, you get two hexagonal discs that give you these new things called Toy Box Games. One is called 'Assault on Asgard', where you have to fight frost giants to keep Odin's treasures safe. While its gameplay is pretty simple, it is challenging and it keeps you on your toes. 'Escape from the Kyln' is set in the Guardians of the Galaxy prison of the same name, you and a sidekick have to fight your way out. This time, the camera functions like the one in the Diablo games. Never frustrating, plus having the sidekick help you is a lot of fun! You tackle a variety of alien enemies here, to go along with returning frost giants. So far, both are pretty fun and only add to the game greatly.

There are two other Toy Box Games, one for Lilo & Stitch and one for Brave. Those both come with the Disney Originals Toy Box Starter Pack, which I obviously didn't get because I wanted the Avengers play set and I can get both Stitch and Merida separately. I don't think you can buy the Avengers play set anywhere else. As for the Stitch and Merida games, I heard that the discs that contain them will be released separately next month so I look forward to picking those up when the time comes.

In all, I already love Toy Box mode. It's filled with much more, it's easier to use, it's a lot more fun to use, it's less glitchy and buggy, and it has a lot of variety. It's going to keep me busy, big time. The addition of the Toy Store makes it even better, plus Disney now accepts all submitted Toy Boxes. For the first game, they only accepted entries in weekly contests. They still do contests, too, which is great.

Play sets? Well I thought the Avengers play set was just alright. I wonder what I'll think of the GOTG and Spidey sets. The two game discs add to the game greatly, giving you more to do outside of the play sets and Toy Box mode.

Overall great so far, and a lot of fun...

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