Disney Infinity returns in Marvel form, with a new range of collectable toys to unlock in-game super heroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Groot and Rocket, with harder challenges, ingenious upgrade trees and more ways to create your own adventures thrown in for good measure.
If you’ve not kept up, Disney Infinity works with a collectable range of sculpted figurines that unlock characters in-game. Whether it’s a sneaky way to sell toys or a novel way to interact with games is up for debate. But either way, with Marvel in the mix, it’s on our radar.
It's going head to head against Skylanders Trap Team (which launches in October), and they'll both be battling it out to earn their spot under the tree come Christmas.
With new content and an improved Toy Box mode turning you into a master game-maker, Disney Infinity 2.0 promises plenty of fun and distractions for young and older fans alike. But does it deliver?
READ MORE: These are the 200 greatest games of all time
Marvel Play-Sets Are Go
Unlike last year’s focus on family brands like The Incredibles, Toy Story or Cars, this year Disney Infinity 2.0 takes on the Marvel universe. This delivers three distinct adventures in The Avengers, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. All strong franchises, but only The Avengers comes with the starter pack. You'll need to fork out S$54.90 for the other sets, each with two related characters.
The ability to cross-over franchises remains a nice touch. Once you've collected the necessary in game tokens (and, of course, purchased the related figurine), you can bring Nova or Rocket Raccoon into The Avengers play-set, Iron Man and Hulk into Spider-Man’s world or Iron Man and Nova into the Guardians of the Galaxy.
These play-sets make up the main adventure of Disney Infinity 2.0 and should last around five hours, depending on your gaming ability.
The main adventure is however only an entrée to the real business of making your own creations in the Toy Box mode.
Game-changing Game Maker
The Toy Box is where the gloves come off and every Disney and Marvel character can battle it out for supremacy. This year the game’s creation tools have been extended and enhanced. First and foremost there are loads of new ways to generate complete elements rather than building from scratch.
Want a race-way or castle? No problem, just place a generator or worker-bee character on the map and as if by magic a complete track or building will starter to emerge. This takes much of the legwork out of making your own games by offering a starting point that is unique and can be tailored to your game-play intentions.
This generated content is complemented by a set of templates that can be dropped into a Toy Box arena to create pre-set layouts of roads, hillsides and other terrain. Again this streamlines the process while ensuring the finished product looks the business.
The icing on the cake is the Toy Box building interiors. Whereas previously you could only design the outside of buildings and structures, in Disney Infinity 2.0 you can craft pixel perfect interiors as well. A little like the home designer in The Sims, you can place furniture, wallpaper and design room layouts. This not only adds depth to player created environments but also opens up new game-play mechanics.
The speed of creation is at times mind-boggling. To on-lookers it appears that players are super competent developers to be able to create such interactive fun in just a few hours. However, it’s the game’s clever interface and limitless options that make you look like the next super-star programmer.
As solid as the Hulk
Of course a big part of all this is the toys, or should we say hand-sculpted comic figurines. There are 21 in total to collect. In the game they grant access to characters and abilities and automatically save your upgrades. On the shelf they add a touch of geek-chic to any bachelor pad -- or less conspicuously are diminutive enough to stow away in a collector’s cupboard.
They're very well built (a Disney rep told us that the Hulk survived a drop out of a window), and accordingly, they aren’t that cheap - especially if you want to complete your collection, as you’ll need to keep up with subsequent waves of characters that will be released after launch. Additionally, if last year is anything to go by there may also be unannounced Marvel play-sets still to be released for the game.
The final part of the collecting aspect of Disney Infinity are a set of Power Disc tokens that unlock abilities, powers and helper characters in the play-set games and different items and themes for the Toy Box.
Discs that unlock new costumes for Marvel characters and themed power-ups will be of most interest, but in general this aspect still feels targeted at the younger audience more used to collecting and swapping cards and toys in the playground.
Does Not Compute
Perhaps the weakest element in Disney Infinity 2.0 is backwards compatibility. Although you can upgrade your original Disney Infinity set-up to Toy Box 2.0 and access all your old characters, you still have to purchase a new starter pack (with a redundant extra Infinity Base) to access the Marvel play-set adventures.
With games like Skylanders letting you use all your old figures in the new campaigns each year this feels like something of an oversight.
While it is understandable that all the old play-sets haven’t been squeezed onto that Disney Infinity 2.0 disc, surely a download option would have been possible?
READ MORE: Mario Kart 8 review
Separating the Boys From the Men
Perhaps the most surprising part of Disney Infinity 2.0 is the level of difficulty. Unlike last year where players could quickly continue even if they repeatedly died, here you have to take more care of your characters.
Once they have run out of energy each character can’t be used for a certain amount of time. This means that players will likely run out of lives (determined by the number of characters they have in a particular franchise) and will need to restart the checkpoint. Along with this are three difficulty levels that can be turned up for more of a challenge if you are a particularly experienced player.
The game also supports a split screen two player co-operative mode in both the play-set and Toy Box. This can make things a little easier as long as you find a partner in crime(fighting) who doesn’t burn through your precious collection of super heroes.
Whether this is a game best suited for older or younger players is up for debate. While families will naturally gravitate towards it, the Marvel franchise should justify older player’s interest too.
For core gamers it's something of a mixed bag. The figurines are certainly collectable, but the gameplay itself is quite cookie-cutter, so unless older fans really love Marvel or collectable figures, it's unlikely to be at the top of their list.
More Marvel is never a bad thing, but Disney Infinity makes this more than a novel addition with great looking figurines and engaging ways for younger gamers to play.
The lack of compatibility with the older version is disappointing, and older gamers won't be blown away by the main gameplay, but the powerful Toy Box mode more than makes up for it.
It might not be the cheapest game this year, but the brawling, platforming and puzzle solving combined mean that Disney Infinity 2.0 offers something for everyone.