It was only a matter of time before Disney brought Star Wars into its popular collectible figure game franchise after adding the Marvel Comics universe in the last iteration, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes. With the next installment of the big-screen Star Wars saga hitting theaters later this year, the timing certainly seems right for Disney Infinity 3.0, which launches with a lineup of heroes and villains from the sci-fi series and an expanded, cosmic approach to its world-building elements.
The result is a world-building experience that does indeed feel infinite in its scope.
Much like its predecessors, Disney Infinity 3.0 is a two-part experience. Themed playsets provide a narrative-based, open-world adventure for a select group of playable characters. The Disney Infinity 3.0 starter pack, for example, offers the “Twilight of the Republic” playset that can be used with many of the Star Wars figures.
The other half of the Disney Infinity experience is the free-form, world-building “Toy Box” mode, which allows players to design, assemble, and share their own in-game environments created with stylized themes, programmable objects, and other interactive elements unlocked through various methods (i.e., in-game achievements).
More than just a new coat of paint
In making the leap from Marvel Super Heroes to Disney Infinity 3.0, Disney Interactive Studios and LucasArts have done a nice job of avoiding the all-too-common pitfalls of an iterative update that begins and ends with some new characters and storylines. Infinity 3.0 feels like a surprisingly fresh experience in both play modes – playsets and Toy Box – thanks to some major changes in the way characters are controlled, the scope of the sandbox environments, and the creative options (and guidance) available in the world-building activities.
On the playset side, the combat elements in particular received a major update from Marvel Super Heroes, which occasionally felt a little limited in its simplicity (even for an all-ages game). Not only are the controls themselves more intuitive, but the upgradeable skill trees for each character offer significantly more customization. The characters are now able to string together more complicated attacks with the proper timing and button actions, and though the combo attacks aren’t mandatory to defeat enemies, they provide a welcome alternative to the button-mashing combat that dominated the last game.
Infinity 3.0 does have some room to grow, however, in the way characters interact with the in-game environment. It’s fairly common to find yourself repeatedly missing jumps or getting stuck in the geometry of a particular area due to quirky camera angles or invisible edges that nudge you out of line with your intended action. The platform-navigating activities in particular make knowing how to position the camera nearly as important as knowing when or where to jump.
[The developers] have done a nice job of avoiding the all-too-common pitfalls of an iterative update that begins and ends with some new characters and storylines.
The playset adventures themselves remain fairly short activities as far as the main narrative goes, and could easily be completed in four or five hours if all of the available side missions and sandbox elements are ignored. Even so, the playsets’ sandbox environments appear to have received a significant upgrade in Infinity 3.0 that makes them feel much, much larger this time around. A long list of side missions, challenges, and simple quests are available on each of the four planets you visit in the “Twilight of the Republic” playset, for example, along with character-based rewards that encourage replaying them with different figures.
The way these side quests are managed – and much of the game’s other activities, for that matter – also represents a big improvement over Marvel Super Heroes that suggests the Infinity 3.0 team were well aware of some of the criticisms lobbed at the previous installment of the franchise. Tutorials and in-game guides were noticeably scarce in Marvel Super Heroes, and while it wasn’t much of a concern in the playset adventures (due to the simplified controls) this became especially problematic in the free-form Toy Box mode, where the possibilities seemed limitless – but only if you managed to figure out on your own how to make everything work.
With Infinity 3.0, both play modes tread the fine line between letting you learn as you go and providing the guidance you need to get the most out of your playing time. While there’s no shortage of engaging, fun tutorials available in the Toy Box environment that walk you through the creative options available to you, they aren’t mandatory for players who want to jump in sans instruction. The extra guidance is particularly welcome in that mode, as it eases you into the ocean of seemingly limitless world-building options that mode provides.
Like the previous two installments of Disney Infinity, Infinity 3.0 offers an impressive amount of synergy between its two play modes, with activities in one mode unlocking options in the other, and vice versa. However, it also suffers from some of the same limitations as its predecessors.
In Toy Box mode, players can make use of every figure released in the franchise so far, from the very first Disney Infinity through Marvel Super Heroes and Infinity 3.0. However, interaction with each playset is limited to a specific group of characters – making it impossible to venture beyond the Toy Box with certain characters if you don’t also own the appropriate playset. Players hoping to have Olaf from Frozen square off against Darth Maul in “Twilight of the Republic,” for example, will be out of luck.
Fortunately, Infinity 3.0 provides numerous options for bringing together characters from different playsets or iterations of the series. Along with the ability to build worlds where Olaf, Yoda, Mickey Mouse, and Spider-Man can interact together, the Toy Box mode also offers a selection of pre-made, multiplayer games for players to compete (or cooperate) in through split-screen or online play.
Despite its two-part structure, Disney Infinity 3.0 offers the most unified experience of the series so far with a pair of play modes that blend well and manage to increase the game’s overall fun factor rather than divide it between disparate elements. The addition of the Star Wars universe is handled well, with a franchise-friendly tone that’s certain to satisfy fans young and old with a voice cast featuring many of the original actors reprising their roles. The Toy Box mode in particular takes a big step forward in Infinity 3.0, and the result is a world-building experience that does indeed feel infinite in its scope.
- An impressively robust world-building mode
- Rich, narrative-driven sandbox environments
- Excellent replay value
- Occasional control and camera quirks
- Limited in-game interaction between characters