STAFF REVIEW of Disney Infinity 2.0 (Xbox One)

Monday, September 29, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

Disney Infinity 2.0 Box art If you have young children that have seen a Disney movie before and like to play games on their consoles, you’ve most likely been made aware of Disney Infinity when it was released a little over a year ago. It’s concept is simple: When you purchase real word toys of your favorite Disney characters, you’re able to play as them within the game, not only in a campaign, but also a freeform Toy Box where you can create any type of game you want with your characters. On one hand you’ve got a great basis for creativity for the youngsters, on the other, they’ll most likely want all of the toys which can add up to a hefty tally once it’s all said and done.

The figures you buy have a special chip within so that when you place it on the special base provided with the starter pack, will instantly put them into your game and even save all of their stats as they level up each of their owned characters. You can purchase classic Disney and Marvel characters, whole new play sets (campaigns), power-ups, special abilities, and minigames as well on these discs. If you’re a parent that had to buy into the Skylanders craze, then this will sound very familiar, but Disney Infinity is not just simply a clone of the popular toy and game craze, as it carves out its own footing in the genre and sets itself apart by giving you more freedom to unleash your creativity. If your child was a fan of the original and still has the toys lying around the house, you’ll love to know they can be used in 2.0 Toy Box mode, so all of that money spent hasn’t gone to waste.

Disney Infinity 2.0 is here and brings with it many improvements that fans of the original have asked for along with a slew of whole new toys for you to buy. The starter pack contains a play set, much like the original Infinity, and acts as the core campaign for the included character pieces. The Avenger’s play set piece campaign revolved around your basic ‘the city needs saving’ plot where Loki is the main antagonist and has a nefarious plan to freeze the city of Manhattan by unleashing frost giants.

While it does offer some more variety in missions, it’s very repetitive and basic at best. Missions will vary from protecting assets, escort someone, follow an enemy, or clear a location of enemies; actually, you can almost always count on beating up the bad guys to complete the majority of missions. After a few of these quests you’ll receive a story mission to do which usually cumulates in a boss battle to progress the plot forward. You’ll even come across special coins that you can collect throughout the city to unlock some special guest characters like Rocket Raccoon. Surprisingly, the voice acting contained within is top notch, and while not all characters are voiced by their movie or TV show counterparts, it really stands out when you realize that Samuel L. Jackson is voicing Nick Fury in a game like this.

Also included in the starter pack are two hexagonal discs which unlock a themed minigame per disc. What you need to keep in mind when playing these discs is that these minigames can be completely created in the Toy Box 2.0 mode which I’ll describe in detail shortly. The Assault on Asgard disc is essentially a tower defense game done in third person where you control whatever Marvel-based character is on your Infinity base. Here you’ll see the enemies’ set path to the object you don’t want them to destroy and be able to place turrets and other objects to help you stop them. If you’re a tower defense fan you’ll have some fun here, even if it is on the basic side for strategies, but even if you aren’t, you can earn experience for your characters and sparks to spend in Toy Box 2.0 mode.

The second disc I enjoyed immensely more, even more so than the campaign play set, revolves around you trying to escape from the famous prison and is titled Escape from Kyln. You’ll need to fight out of the prison, sectioned into multiple smaller stages and set with an isometric camera. The best part though is that you get a cute sidekick that follows you around and can be customized once you find special sidekick armor and weapons for them. They have their own stats and you’ll need to use them to unlock special chests and doors. It’s a fun minigame and I found myself really enjoying the whole sidekick addition to this Infinity disc.

So what’s actually included in the starter pack for Disney Infinity 2.0? You get the game, base (which I have an issue with its incredibly short USB cable that needs to be twice as long), two game discs (the minigames), the Marvel Avenger’s play set piece, and the three included character figures: Iron Man, Thor, and Black Widow. I really enjoyed playing as Iron Man and Thor, but Black Widow felt incredibly underpowered comparatively, even when she leveled up and got new abilities. Go into your favorite retail store and you’ll see many new Infinity 2.0 characters and sets you can buy such as Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Venom, and more to come in the future no doubt.

While adults that play will understand you won’t be able to use your new 2.0 figures on the old Infinity base and game, the younger players won’t necessarily understand this if they bring them over to a friend’s house. It becomes trial and error of which toys you can use in which play sets and disc, as I tried placing my Queen Elsa figure into the Avenger’s campaign, but was denied (Toy Box 2.0 mode was no problem though). So keep in mind you’re only able to put specific characters into certain play sets and discs, though the Toy Box 2.0 mode is essentially fair game and anything aside from Infinity 1.0 play sets can be used.

So aside from the obvious new figures and toys new to Infinity 2.0, what else is new? On the biggest is being the newly included skill trees. Here you can unlock skill points as you level up and then use them to improve or add abilities to each of your characters that earned that experience. The skill trees can vastly improve how your characters play by adding in very powerful new abilities and supers, or you could simply improve damage, speed, or health if you would like. Now that figures can also reach a new level 20 cap, it adds for some personalization and I can see kids really enjoying this aspect of improving their favorite characters just the way they want to.

Another big change is how you earn experience. In the original game you had to play the campaign to earn experience, but in 2.0 you can earn the coveted experience orbs not only during campaign play sets but also in the minigames and even Toy Box 2.0 mode. Given that the included Avenger’s play set was dull and repetitive, it’s a huge relief knowing you’re able to earn experience doing almost anything else as well.

How Disney Infinity really separated itself from the competition was their idea for Toy Box mode. In theory you could essentially build any type of game you wanted with your imagination being the only limitation. While it had good intentions, the first iteration of Toy Box mode didn’t really live up to its promise. Now dubbed Toy Box 2.0, this promise is much closer to being fulfilled and realized. Many of the complaints fans had of the original offering have been changed or improved and it seems that this half of the game is what got the most attention in Infinity 2.0. Toy Box 2.0 basically gives you a blank canvas to work with, allowing you to create almost anything you could think of and want to play.

Unlocking new items in 1.0 was a pain to put it lightly, as it was largely random to what toys you would unlock. Now in 2.0, you’re able to use your sparks (currency) however you wish and save up for specific unlocks if that’s what you wish. The only catch being that sometimes the better items are blocked behind a tech-like tree where you’ll need to purchase smaller items you may not want before being able to get the one you do want. It’s a happy medium and vast improvement.

There are templates that can quickly get you started making whatever you want to create but you can also create something complete from scratch as well and customize it fully to your liking. The more you play all of the game modes, the more toys and items you’ll unlock to use here, so it pays off to play everything you can and as much as possible. You can also create challenges and even include logic on items, allowing for some deep personalization if you have the imagination, and more so, and patience.

You’re also given your own home in this mode and can completely decorate it however you see fit. You can expand your house by adding new rooms and even decorate every room individually if you wanted to make a themed house. There are many feats you can unlock and earn bonus items for doing so, which makes Toy Box 2.0 feel like its own game at times. There’s seriously a lot of customization to be had here and if your child loves to create levels in other games, this will have them occupied for quite some time.

Disney Infinity 2.0 does have some issues that need to be noted though. First, the load times are atrocious, and given the frequency of loading new levels or changing modes, get in the habit of doing something else while you wait on the incredibly long load times. If you have a younger child, know that it’s long enough that they will most likely become impatient, so be warned. There’s also a lot of bugs, nothing game breaking, but numerous times I found myself clipping on stuff, hitting random objects when I shouldn’t, and other odd bugs that shouldn’t be there. Lastly, for being on the newest consoles (and reviewed on Xbox One), there doesn’t seem to be much of a graphical upgrade at all aside from draw distance. There’s still pop-in and texture loading problems at times and I was hoping to be impressed more so than I was given I was playing the Xbox One version.

I found myself torn trying to decide on how to score Disney Infinity 2.0 given I was let down with the included Avenger’s play set but very impressed with Toy Box 2.0 while also trying to keep the target audience in mind. Granted, you can purchase new campaign play sets, this review is solely based on what came in the start pack box and its merits based on that. The included minigame discs are fun variants and I really enjoyed playing with the included Thor and Iron Man figures (sorry Black Widow), so as a whole package, even given the repetitive campaign, I was having fun leveling my characters.

You almost need to look at Disney Infinity 2.0 as two separate games: Play sets and Toy Box 2.0 mode. If you’re wanting a cool Avenger’s game, you’ll be disappointed. If you want to play around in a robust world and level creator with your favorite Disney characters, you’ll have plenty of gameplay to be had. It really feels like your level of enjoyment will be based on which side of the fence you’re on and how you’ll want to play.

Obviously the game is geared towards a younger audience with its toys and Disney background, but I’d be lying if I said I thought the figures weren’t cool. While the game as a whole might be a little too complicated for a very young crowd to do on their own, a gamer-in-training that knows how to do the basics should have a blast with Infinity 2.0.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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