The title and tag line of Disney Infinity refers to the infinite possibilities for gameplay. The game came out in the UK on Friday 19 September (U.S. release is on Sept. 23rd) and as a huge Marvel fan, I dived into the first playset and managed to complete it and by Sunday morning. I haven’t really had an awful lot of time to explore the other facets of the game, community content or the improved Toy Box 2.0 mode, so this review will be solely based on my experiences of the first big piece of the experience – the action/adventure Avengers Playset which comes with every starter pack or collector’s edition starter park of Disney Infinity 2.0 – Marvel Super Heroes.
It’s also worth mentioning that by this point, over a year into the existence of the Disney Infinity franchise, I’m far down the rabbit hole, if you’ll excuse the Alice in Wonderland reference – so take my excitement with a pinch of salt if you’re unsure. As well as being a Marvel geek, I love Disney, so the idea of playing in each of the worlds was like catnip to me, and I really enjoyed my time with the original Disney Infinity on Wii U last winter. I still love my Wii U, but I wanted to bring my Disney Infinity 2 to my Playstation 4 as its where I now do the majority of my gaming. I was pleased to see that after signing into my Disney Interactive account of my PS4 when I booted up Disney Infinity 2, the service had remembered I’d collected every character in the original Disney Infinity and after swiping them all in on the NFC reader which comes with each Starter Pack or Collector’s Edition, the PS4 had remembered for example, that I’d levelled my Elsa to a badass level 10 ice queen.
One of the other benefits for me of going with PS4 over Wii U, other than the graphical increase, was that Sony and Disney Interactive were releasing a Collector’s Edition which not only included Black Widow, Thor and Iron Man (as every starter pack does) but also an amazing light up frost giant display stand and the NFC figures for Captain America, Hawkeye and timed Playstation exclusive Hulk, and with the promotion running in the UK where you get another free figure (I choose Iron Fist) it meant that I was getting seven of the 16 figures in wave one for a slightly discounted rate compared to if I was buying them individually. And – I got that ace display stand! Plus, I was going to get all the figures and additional playsets anyway, so I might as well save a bit of cash. (You can tell I’ve had this conversation with my fiancé, can’t you?)
Just a note on the quality of the figures before I jump into the gameplay. They’re just as well made as the first set of Disney Infinity figures. Very solidly made and beautifully painted. The bulky figures like Thor and Hulk have some weight to them but all figures feel like quality products, which is something that can’t always be said for the types of toys in the NFC gaming genre, for example, I find Skylander figures to be quite cheaply put together. Once scanned into the game, all characters have the same cartoony aesthetic. It’s very well done.
The playset itself is a fun action/adventure brawler where the Avengers are called in to save Manhattan from an eternal winter caused by Loki and M.O.D.O.K teaming up an launching an onslaught of frost giants and robot drones across the city. Whilst I could have done with a bit more variety in terms of enemy type (you get essentially five or six type of villain in this playset), the length of the adventure and relatively high challenge of the enemies meant I wasn’t every really bored of the action.
The gameplay plays out in character missions given out by Nick Fury, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson as in the film franchise. Later in the adventure Lady Sif, The Wasp and Captain Marvel all are additional quest givers. Quests are usually a variant on beat up a group of villains, move the citizens to safety, destroy a piece of evil tech or protect a piece of Avengers tech, and whilst I believe that this would get stale over a long playtime, the diverse powersets of the Avenger characters, and the relatively short playtime meant that I didn’t ever really feel I was doing the same thing over and over again. One of the weird omissions seems to have missions based around car chases/races, but I’m sure that some clever fan will base some Toy Box adventures around these shortly. Similarly, one of the very simple things I enjoyed in the first Disney Infinity was collecting the playset pieces dotted around the map in capsules. It was a very simple gameplay mechanic but it was fun to hunt these down and instantly rewarded your exploration of the playset. These playset pieces are now purchased through an online storefront where you trade in the “sparks” you’ve collected in missions. Bigger and more important playset pieces, like characters or villains, are unlocked as the rewards for completing story missions.
In terms of scripting the dialogue is written by comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis and its all good fun and draws heavily from the cinematic element of these characters. Quest givers are all well voiced and give you a bit of a interaction as you collect missions from them. There were some moments where logic jumps occur, for example, the big bad of the game is norse trickster Loki, as I’ve mentioned, but his introduction as the villain comes without any major introduction or deduction that he is behind the trouble in the city. Suddenly the quest givers are mentioning the battle against Loki, or an assault on his hideout before narratively, we’ve been shown he is the villain. You can sort of forgive this from the fact that this could be deduced by the cold spell on New York and the frost giants, but it does take you out of the story for a little moment. Also, regarding the quest givers, their dialogue sometimes repeats in the middle of a battle which is a bit annoying. Similarly, I felt that it was strange that it didn’t personalise my playthrough in anyway. For example, I got the exact same intro to quest whether I played as Hulk or Black Widow or Iron Man, where it would have been more engaging even if it the default dialogue was just proceeded by a “Tony” or a “Thor”. A little niggle I know.
All of the characters are fun to play as and as Iron Man and Thor in particular it is quite a rush to zoom around the city, strafing in out out of skyscrapers as you move from mission to mission. Cap, Hawkeye, and Natasha all have their ways of getting around too, with motorcycles and hoverbikes introduced quite early on with the latter being much easier to drive. The handling on the motorcycles is really difficult to get the hang of as it much too sensitive so I didn’t find my self hunting down the bike races dotted throughout the city.
Throughout the playset I found myself excited to switch between the characters I’d collected to level them up and unlock new and greater powers, from increased damage from ranged attacks to super jumps, all over the combos and new powers you unlock are fun and you’ll want to level up each of your figures to see all that they can do. Any figures you’ve got from Disney Infinity 1, while they can’t enter the Avengers playset, they now also too structured skill trees which allows some limited progression system. Whilst we’re on the subject of the characters, throughout the Avengers playset there are gold tokens with either Nova or Rocket Racoon’s face on them. Collect 10 of each “crossover coins” and you then unlock the ability to play as as both Rocket Racoon or Nova in the Avengers playset, as long as you’d shelled out for the NFC figure (which, of course, I had!). It’s very clever marketing, I can almost imagine the kids who collect these coins but don’t have the figures so they nag their parents until they get them. You could be cynical of this, but the reference to the other available figures so far in Disney Infinity 2.0 is much more tastefully done than in the first game. There were areas and unlockables in the original game’s playsets that you couldn’t get unless you had each character in the playset, and for some like The Incredibles, that meant shelling out for five figures. Disney Infinity 2.0 so far hasn’t had any of these bits.
Another disappointing aspect of the game so far for me has been the few female characters available to play as in the Disney Infinity 2.0. Whilst the original game was far from perfect in terms of equal gender representation, there were many more female characters available. From the Marvel stable we get Black Widow and Gamora. Yes, Captain Marvel, White Tiger, The Wasp and Lady Sif all appear in the game as support characters, but it would have been nice to see a few more playable female figures. Marvel comics has a huge amount of iconic female characters who have served as Avengers and it would have been great to see them in the game as playable. As cool as Nova was as a crossover character for Avengers I would have much preferred flying around the city as Carol Danvers, and as mighty as Hulk was at smashing through the frost giants, I would have loved to play as the Sensational She-Hulk on the team too. Maybe they’ll introduce some more female superheroes is Disney Infinity 3.0 (along with the rumoured Star Wars playsets).
The playset took me about five to six hours to complete, at which point whilst the mains story was complete, there were still racing, flight and rampage challenges to do throughout the city, and still some flight or jump orbs to pick up too. At the time of completion my characters have levelled up to be between level 8 (Thor and Captain America) to level 5 (Hawkeye, Rocket Racoon and Black Widow) with Hulk, Nova and Iron Man being somewhere in the middle.
I’m looking forward to jumping into the other two playsets (Guardians of the Galaxy and Ultimate Spider-Man) and seeing if they have any more to offer. Even if they don’t, these little bite-sized five hour adventures are perfect for the bursts of action and I can’t wait to see what the community introduces with the Toy Box mode of gameplay.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Superheroes released on Friday 19 September 2014 in the UK and is released Tuesday 23 September 2014 in North America. The starter pack including the game, NFC hub, Avengers playset piece, two toy box games and Black Widow / Thor and Iron Man NFC figurines carries a RRP of £59.99 / $79.99. The title is available for PS3, PS4, Wii U, XBOX 360 and XBOX One. Hulk figurine is exclusive to Playstation platforms for 30 days from release. All other figurines are sold separately and available from launch for all devices.