There are some issues with the Toy Box. Because your creations are limited to what you’ve found in the play sets, some of the approved Disney downloads don’t work unless you find everything the stage requires. The download for the Columbia re-creation from Bioshock Infinity, for example, was impossible to play because it required things that weren’t acquired yet. There isn’t a mechanic for level discovery. You can download and save the levels featured by Disney, but unlike LittleBigPlanet, you can’t discover creations made by others or upload your own creations. You can invite others to see your creations if you’re playing online, but for something this robust, it’s disappointing that you can’t share things unless they’re featured by Disney.
But Keep in mind that this launch lineup of figures and discs is only the beginning. Upcoming sets include characters from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” out this month in the UK, “Phineas & Ferb,” “Tangled,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and the upcoming film, “Frozen.” There are a few shoutouts to older stuff, including “Condorman,” “Fantasia,” “Pete’s Dragon” and “Tarzan”.
The theme is that your figures come to life, so the character models look exactly like the physical figures, with some plastic sheen for emphasis. They look fine and animate rather nicely. The environments mimic that appearance in their textures but have a healthy amount of particle effects.
What becomes even more baffling is how the three included play sets differ. Despite using the same engine, the Monsters University set is the worst performer, with wildly fluctuating frame rate. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Pirates of the Caribbean set, which looks rather gorgeous. Both The Incredibles set and the Toy Box are somewhere in the middle, where problems are noticeable but they look good nonetheless. It’ll be interesting to see how the engine handles the upcoming play sets.
The game features a few other modes. Mastery Adventures is split into combat, driving and world building, but these are merely extended training modes. Adventures are more like challenges, as you must get as many collectibles as possible within a set time limit; medals are given out once you reach certain thresholds. Each character gets a special level and separate leader boards, and since every challenge level is unique to each character, more figures ensure a wider selection of challenge levels.
Then you have the Hall of Heroes, which acts as a progress meter of discs in your collection, which heroes are played with, and how often. The hall is built with more additions as you progress, and the statue upgrades from bronze to silver to gold are captivating.
When it comes to the figures and other accessories, there’s some good and some bad. The construction of the figures is rather nice. Though the amount of detail isn’t as extensive in some areas as the Skylanders figures, they are about the size of the Skylanders Giants figures and are pretty weighty. They also look quite good and can be used as decorations, especially since the base isn’t very prominent. The figures can level up, but the levelling is restricted to gaining spin tickets for the Toy Box and changing the metal colour of statues in the Hall of Heroes.
Even though you can level them up, there’s no sense of ownership with the Disney Infinity figures, because only one person can own them where as with Skylanders the whole family can use them levelled up. You might level-up your version of Mr Incredible to Level 8, but he’s still the same Mr Incredible you started with. Compare that with Skylander Giants’ Trigger Happy, who has different hats and powers from Level 1 to Level 10, and you have a better sense of pride in the work put into that figure. You can take solace in the fact that losing or replacing the Disney Infinity figure won’t be devastating since the augmentations come from power discs that are universal rather than character-specific. This means that no character feels underpowered when compared to its brethren.
Put all of these elements together, and what you have is a game that can get quite pricey beyond the initial £60/$74.99 starter pack. Individual character figures cost £14.99/$13.99, and while that is necessary if you want Violet and Dash from The Incredibles or Mater and Francesco Bernulli from Cars, you can get the sidekicks (Barbossa, Mrs. Incredible and Mike Wozowski) and villains (Davy Jones, Randall and Syndrome) in packs for £30/$29.99 each. Extra adventure packs go for £32/$39.99 each.
There’s a Cars set with Holley Shiftwell and Lightning McQueen as well as The Lone Ranger set with the titular character and Tonto. If that weren’t enough for the first wave of figures, Toys R Us has an exclusive Lightning McQueen variant that is recognized as a separate character. He is normally $13.99, but with the exclusive nature of the character and high demand, expect to pay much more via online auction houses. Again no cystral variants for any of the figure like the Lightning McQueen and the soon to be release Crystal variants of Sulley, The Lone Ranger and Mr Incredible.
The kicker is the power discs. You get a bag of two random discs for £3.99/$5.99, and there are a total of 20 to collect, three of which are rare. Like the figures, Toys R Us in North America has an exclusive bag with a guaranteed disc for Mike’s car. If you get very lucky, you only need 10 bags to get everything from this first wave, but chances are you’ll either buy multiple bags or get involved in a massive trading network if you intend to complete a collection. Again people in other countries like the UK don’t get an exclusive like the power discs at all.
For collectors and completionists, the term “investment” really applies here. The Skylanders games require you to buy more characters to unlock areas, but they only require one elemental character to unlock the content. In Disney Infinity, complete sets from every game world are necessary since some missions and unlockables can only be accessed if you have all of the toys from that play set. The power discs are less of an issue, since some seem to repeat character boosts, but the extra vehicles and environment packs are required for those who want to have a specific piece.
The music is a nice mix of authentic movie tunes and original pieces that sound like they could’ve been in other movies. The musical selection per play set isn’t very expansive, so you will hear a few pieces quite often, but they’re so good that you won’t mind. The effects are fine and plentiful, and they match the source material rather well. The voice work is also great, and despite the fact that sound-alikes are expected, a few characters are voiced by their original actors.
Disney Infinity is still entertaining, and that’s all that really counts. Each play sets provides a healthy amount of gameplay and is addictive. The Toy Box is exactly the kind of sandbox that players look for, and while it isn’t as expansive as Minecraft in terms of creativity, it does the job pretty well in matching the creativity that was in Toy Story 3’s Toy Box. As long as you’re forgiving about the presentation and are amenable to the game being a money sink, you’ll have loads of fun. My whole family loves the Disney Infinity world can’t wait till Disney Infinity 2 for next generation consoles the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.
Reviewed on Xbox 360, also available on PS3, Wii, Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS
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