Disney Infinity (Available on PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Publisher Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Avalanche Software
Release Date: August 18th, 2013
Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Disney Infinity E10+ for everyone over the age of ten. They highlight cartoon violence as the reason for the age requirement. Honestly, the game is about toys coming to life in a game setting and while there is certainly violence, it’s no more harmful than taking your kids to see the latest Disney movie. In another words, I feel this game is truly appropriate for all ages.
Plays Like: Have you played Skylanders? Good, because the fundamental idea behind Disney Infinity is essentially the same as that of Skylanders with a couple of very important differences. For one thing the figures you buy here unlock new Play Sets and a wide variety of other goodies you can use in the open world Toy Box. The Play Sets are self-contained set pieces, while the Toy Box allows you to create your own games, levels, and whatever else you can think of. Regardless of what you’re doing, the package comes together wonderfully.
Review Basis: Disney gave us the PS3 version of the game. Since technically there is no end in this game unless you buy all the various figures, I simply tried the three that came with the Starter Pack, and played around with the Toy Box for a short period of time. In a game like this a lengthy time investment isn’t really required given how the game is setup.
What Avalanche Software has been able to do here is pretty incredible. They’ve literally made playtime in a virtual environment. While it’s not perfect, it’s about the closest I’ve ever experienced to having a virtual play room. This is done by remembering one key rule, at no point are any of the characters in Disney Infinity their real counterparts, they remain toys throughout the game. That means it’s perfectly fine to have Jack Sparrow and Mr. Incredible together racing against Lightning McQueen in the Toy Box mode, because I used to do mash-ups like that all the time when I was a kid. Although instead of Disney toys it would have been G.I. Joe and Transformers. It also makes sense why these partnerships are forbidden in the Play Sets, because that’s where there’s an actual plot so it wouldn’t make sense to have two or three different Disney franchises together, and again, sometimes that’s how I would play. It’s pretty amazing just how well Disney was able to incorporate everything into this one game.
+ Solid build quality of the physical statues. It’s a little sad the statuettes aren’t poseable, but they appear to have very sturdy build quality. I can see children easily playing with them without parents having to worry about them breaking.
+ Starter Pack comes with Jack Sparrow, Sulley, and Mr. Incredible, thereby giving you three distinct play sets. Each is vastly different than the last. Jack Sparrow’s play set is more of an action adventure, Sulley’s plays out like a stealth action game, and Mr. Incredible’s is pure action. While they might sound similar, there’s a vast amount of mission variety between each unique universe.
+ Play sets are all broken down into open worlds with select missions, side quests and other challenges waiting for your kids to play with. Each story lasts around three to four hours, but the amount of additional content featured in each one is staggering. There are side quests, tons of challenges to take part in and hundreds of hidden goodies to collect. These items appear in your Toy Box, and can be used in the level editor.
+ Toy Box mode allows you to do pretty much whatever you want. You can download additional maps made by other players, or try the ones Disney has made for you. If that doesn’t suit your needs, you can customize and make your own unique world to play in. There are literally thousands of items you can choose from, and the level editor is very easy to use. In-game gold can be used in the toy store to purchase additional items to further expand your arsenal.
+ Good amount of content for the price. As with Skylanders the fear is always that the Starter Pack just isn’t going to cut it, but the truth is the amount of content you get should tide the little ones over for quite a while. The only downside is the next point I mention because it does pose a limitation for some right after opening the box.
+ Graphics are top notch. This feels like a AAA game, not a quick rush job like so many other licensed games. Characters are colorful, the Play Sets are highly detailed and overall everything looks like it belongs in the magical world of Disney.
+ For you audio fans out there, the voice cast is almost entirely made up of Disney’s ‘go to’ team that fills in for the big stars from the movies. Don’t expect to hear Johnny Depp or Tom Hanks. In terms of the soundtrack, all the biggest hits you know and love from the feature films are present and the general sound effects are perfectly in-tune with Disney’s magical universe.
+/- The entire game can be played with friends, although it’s unfortunate that you require another figure from the same universe in order to play locally through the different play sets. Figures go for $12.99, so parents be prepared to remortgage your house.
– The PlayStation 3 version suffers from a lot of screen tearing, some slowdown during intense battles, and some other bizarre anomalies. I have no way of knowing if the other versions suffer from the same issues.
– While I appreciate the simple to use level editor, it’s rather cumbersome when attaching different platforms or objects together. More often than not you find you can’t fit two objects together as easily as you should. This might frustrate young, and old kids alike.
– No classic Disney characters or worlds to visit and play in. Sure kids would most likely rather have the more modern properties, but I would have loved to have seen Aladdin, The Lion King, >and others.
I originally planned to write this review as fast as possible after playing for a very short amount of time, because I’m extremely busy with other projects right now. That may have been the plan, but something kept calling me back to play a little bit longer. I know I’m a big kid at heart, but there’s something special about a grown man playing with toys both inside and outside the virtual space. Yes, that’s very scary.
Disney Infinity might be the best kids game of all time. It encourages them to use that spark of imagination they have when they’re playing with physical toys and incorporate it into the videogame. I’ve never seen something like this before, and if you have children this is a must own package. Just remember that you’re going to need additional toys at some point, and at $13 a pop you need to be prepared for the “BUT MOM….!!!”
Final Score: 8.5/10 (Note: If you have children, make this a 9.5 or 10. They’ll absolutely love it!)