Pirates of the Caribbean is the largest and most ambitious of the three, with an island-hopping adventure that features platforming, puzzle-solving, ship-customisation and naval combat on the high seas – a bit like a junior version of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed 4. It actually does a pretty good job of all of the above, with Jack Sparrow an engaging protagonist and an interesting series of islands to explore and objectives to conquer.
With loads of quests, side-quests and items to collect, each playset adventure delivers about the same amount of gameplay as a half-decent family game, and we and our offspring have had a lot of fun with all three. As with the movies, your mileage will vary according to your tastes and how familiar you are with the settings and characters: Monsters U’s pranks and sneak-and-scare tactics went down a storm with our youngest testers, while the more straightforward adventure of Pirates was a hit with the one writing here. Yet while none of the playsets would stand comparison with a Mario or Zelda, or even a Rachet and Clank, all are significantly better than run-of-the-mill kiddie-fare. In this respect, Disney Infinity is off to a good start.
Disney Infinity: The Toy Box
But then the playsets are just the beginning. Throughout Disney Infinity there’s a real focus on building, creativity and customisation, to the extent that all three of the playsets have customisable elements (individual monsters, the ship, superhero HQ) and missions that involve purchasing and building objects, whether a useful bridge or booby-trapped structures. The Toy Box just takes the idea and runs.
Using a reasonably simple set of editing tools, you can take any terrain element, building, object or character that you’ve unlocked in Disney Infinity and place it in your own level. You can build a track with curves and ramps then drop a car or buggy to race on it. You can create platform levels with monsters, traps and collectibles, and even set up cameras to play them from an old-school 2D vantage. Or, you can just knock something together, fill it full of toys and vehicles, then muck around in it for a while. It’s up to you.
Some good tutorials take you through the basics, and you’re not pushed into working with the more complicated stuff at first. Positioning, rotating and raising and lowering terrain blocks and objects is easy and intuitive – more so than in LittleBigPlanet – and it really doesn’t take long to put something together than you can at least play around in. However, as with all such tools it takes a lot more time and effort before you can create something that you’d actually want to share. It’s telling that even Disney’s own pre-made worlds feel cludgy and unfinished, and while there’s a lot of potential here, it probably won’t be realised straight away.