Those who previously resisted Disney Infinity’s Marvel adventures may well be tempted this year, thanks to a series of collectible Star Wars figurines and expansive adventures in Disney Infinity 3.0.

The game, as before, leverages the plastic figures to access in-game characters. Placing the toys on the USB Infinity Base reads their NFC chip, unlocking their presence in the game. Progress and character development is then stored back on the toy ready for the next session.

Admittedly it’s a product that is, to all intents and purposes, a child’s toy. Equally though, the Star Wars name and the beautifully-sculpted characters are sure to make this attractive to kids of all ages.

The first playset covers episodes I to III, adding a sprinkling of Clone Wars characters. It’s aptly entitled Twilight of the Republic and will be followed by a Rise of the Empire playset covering episodes IV to VI, and then another adventure based on upcoming movie The Force Awakens.

Getting hands on with the game, which is still a little way off completion, it already feels accomplished, and offers a host of strong features. Having tried out the Toy Box game-creator previously, the Twilight of the Republic playset was a first chance for us to see how the Star Wars franchise has been translated into toy figure form.

This year's starter pack comes with two characters, Asoka and Anakin, as well as the Twilight of the Republic playset. Obi-Wan, Yoda and Darth Maul can be purchased as additional figurines.

Star Wars Twilight playset gameplay

Before getting to the game proper it’s impossible not to mention the figurines themselves. Anyone who collected the original Star Wars figures will be instantly transported back to their youth. There is clear respect for the characters they are working with here, while at the same time updating them for a new generation of Star Wars fans.

Gameplay has taken another step towards the core audience this year. DMC: Devil May Cry developer Ninja Theory is the first of a trio of UK studios (Sumo Digital and Studio Gobo being the others) contributing to the game and it shows: lightsaber fights are hard-hitting and huge fun. Add in a range of force powers and aerial combat and you can take down enemies in a wide variety of ways, but the standout moments are those spark-generating sword clashes.

Figures for Twilight of the Republic

Most importantly though, this all feels very much like Star Wars. From the moment the opening theme strikes up or the Star Destroyers roll in to attack, you feel transported into that iconic landscape. While only a handful of locations were available in the demo session, we’re itching to see how the whole game plays out.

This year the game offers better value too. First off the price of the game has come down by $10 in the US, with a similar reduction expected in the UK. Also, Disney has stepped away from the use of foil “blind bag” packaging for the Power Discs, instead offering consumers a choice of predefined themed sets of discs.

Another nice touch is that if you already own a Start Pack for Infinity 1.0 or 2.0 you can now just buy the 3.0 game disc on its own. This means you can then buy just the playset and characters you want, rather than sticking to those in the Starter Pack.

The final improvement here is that you can use any of the Star Wars characters in any of the Star Wars adventures, regardless of the era. While this may make Star Wars purists baulk, it offers better value for each additional character you purchase.

Of course it’s not all perfect. If you collect every character in the game it will cost a few hundred pounds. Also, unlike last year, the Toybox mini games will be sold separately (Toy Box Speedway offers a Mario Kart challenge, while Toy Box Takeover provides brawling action) rather than be included in the Starter Pack.

However, to overly dwell on these minor points would be to miss just how much effort has gone into Disney Infinity 3.0. This is impressive, not least when the Star Wars name would pretty much sell the game on its own.

The Twilight of the Republic playset offers better value on a number of fronts, improves a lot of the compatibility quibbles and does so while brining a AAA action adventure to the masses. We're looking forward to the official release, which will happen sometime in the second half of 2015.

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