Available on Xbox 360, PS3 (reviewed), Wii, Wii U
We’ve all seen games that clone and enhance the gameplay of another game, but how about games that do the same with a business model? That is effectively what Disney has done with Disney Infinity. As with Activision’s Skylanders, the real money isn’t in sales of the game itself, but in the continuing sales of figures and playsets. You’ll pony up £50 or more for the Starter Set now, then another £12 for Mike Wazowski, £26 for a triple-pack of villains or £32 for the Cars playset pack. Kerching! You can hear the sound of champagne corks popping at Disney from here.
Yet it’s hard to feel too bad about this, even as the parent whose wallet is getting whacked, because Disney Infinity delivers better value for the money than you might expect. Firstly, each playset – and there are three in the starter set – is effectively a game in its own right. You’re not just getting a couple of nicely-sculpted but immovable plastic toys but a decent-sized game as well.
Secondly, Disney Infinity isn’t just a platform for Disney games but one for creativity too. Like a fully 3D LittleBigPlanet, it allows you to collect the building blocks found in the playsets and the Toy Box hub, then use them to build your levels. In a way, it’s an expansion of developer Avalanche’s previous work on the video game of Toy Story 3, but taken to a whole new level.
The Starter Set comes with the main game disc, the Disney Infinity base, one Disney Infinity Power Disc, a clear plastic cube thing and a set of three figures: Mr Incredible, Jack Sparrow and Monster U’s youthful Sulley. The figures work just as they do in Skylanders. Place them on the base within a game and the character materialises into view inside the game world. Take them off, and they fade out of view. There are two spots on the base for figures, allowing two players to play, split-screen, at the same time.
Power Discs, which will also be sold separately, stack up under the figures, with each one adding bonus abilities, bonus objects or themes into the game. The clear plastic cube thing sits in its own area on the base and enable Disney Infinity to load a specific playset. As mentioned earlier, three are included: The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean and Monsters U.
These are where most of us will kick off our Infinity adventures, following a short introduction/tutorial that takes you through the basic elements of play. All three are fundamentally open-world platform adventure games, but each has its own twist on the style.
The Incredibles is urban and combat-focused, with Mr Incredible fighting giant robots on and above the streets of Metroville. Monsters U, meanwhile, is more platforming and challenge-focused, with the premise being that Sulley and his Oozma Kappa fraternity are fighting dirty against the jocks of Fear Tech, as each school battles to out-prank the other.