Matt McIrvin (mmcirvin) wrote,
Matt McIrvin

Disney Infinity 3.0, now with added Star Wars

I got my daughter Disney Infinity 3.0 for Christmas, prompted by extensive pleading.

As with version 2.0, I don't think this is a great value-for-money proposition; the various starter kits only give you one Play Set campaign unlocked (far short of the three you got with v1.0) and you have to buy the rest à la carte. This game can hit parents' wallets pretty hard. But that's Disney for you.

However, the Star Wars-themed Play Set content for this version feels considerably richer than the Marvel-based Play Sets in v2.0, more on par with the clever Disney/Pixar campaigns in v1.0. There are also more Play Sets overall (three Star Wars campaigns, one based on Pixar's Inside Out and a new Marvel campaign), not all of which have been released yet.

In addition, this version retains the vastly improved Toy Box (the unlimited world-construction environment) from v2.0, adding Star Wars toys. Though I haven't played with the Toy Box enough to say if there are significant improvements over that, it seems at first glance like not a lot has changed, but the v2.0 version was already very good. And if you've got Play Set pieces and figures from previous versions of the game, you can use all the associated Disney/Pixar/Marvel toys and characters in the Toy Box. So it's safe to say it's the best all-around version of the game.

I didn't particularly want to obtain yet another instance of the base peripheral that you use to activate the toy figures in the game world (we already have two and they haven't changed), so I got the download-only version of the base game, which enables only the Toy Box, and bought the original-trilogy ("Rise Against the Empire") and The Force Awakens playsets separately. I doubt that I actually saved any money by doing this, but the starter kit being sold in stores came with a prequel-era, Clone Wars-inspired campaign that I doubted my kid was that interested in (being more of an original trilogy/The Force Awakens fan), so there's that. I've heard it's actually very good, though.

Anyway, the thing that amuses me the most about this Star Wars content is what they did with the original Star Wars trilogy. By now, there have been many games that either explore side stories, or play through some piece of the storyline of the classic Star Wars movies. If you want a toy-themed kids' game that actually sticks fairly close to the original movie storylines (granted, adding more action and puzzle scenes), I recommend picking up the old Lego Star Wars series from a bargain bin (which will set you back much less cash as well). Disney Infinity decided to go in a different direction: it turned the movies into an open-world sandbox, inspired as much by the experience of playing with the 1970s Kenner toys as by the movies themselves.

Each movie is represented mainly by a single location on a planet: Tatooine/Mos Eisley for Star Wars, Hoth/Echo Base for The Empire Strikes Back, and, apparently, an Ewok town on Endor for Return of the Jedi, though we haven't gotten there yet. You can also go into space above each planet, and there are some space-battle missions there; and there's a hyperspace-travel interface for travel between planets that reminds me of the Director screen in Destiny. Each planet has a whole lot of missions to do, and there are more linear story levels in between that unlock the different worlds. You can play through the whole game as any of the Star Wars figures (the pack-in characters are Luke and Leia); we don't meet the characters in the same order as it happens in the movies, and all of the good-guy characters from the original trilogy appear in all the cutscenes. You can even find tokens in-game that let you use the figures from The Force Awakens, Disney's Rebels cartoon or the Clone-Wars era playset, if you have them.

For this particular campaign, they also brought back (with some tweaks) the strange but cute playset-customization options from version 1.0. There's a currency that allows you to buy buildings for the town you're in, which you can set up in locations of your choice to do things like customize the appearance of random droids, spawn vehicles and tauntauns, or spawn enemies to fight.

Some fans of the movies seem to find this blasphemous, because it's very much not following the movie plots except in the vaguest outline. To my mind, though, just reenacting these decades-old movies over and over in different media could easily become a sterile experience. I like that they mixed it up a bit, and the tasks, while generally simple, are much less monotonous than they were in, say, v2.0's Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy campaigns. It's clear to me that this was inspired as much by Star Wars toys as by Star Wars itself. When you're playing with toys you can come up with a thousand stories of your own. The last time we played, my daughter decided this was actually a game about Darth Vader (her) and his loving daughter Leia (me) making a cozy home in an ice cave on Hoth, farming wampas for breakfast and tending to their strangely numerous pet tauntauns, Lovey-Doves, Butt-Butt, Butt-Butt 2, Butt-Butt 3, Butt-Butt 4 and Butt-Butt 5. If we'd camped out in the Toy Box and used the figures we'd bought earlier, I suppose we'd have been able to get Tinker Bell, Thor and Captain Jack Sparrow in on the fun.

There are some places where "Rise Against the Empire" stumbles, particularly when it introduces more linear story elements. At the moment we seem to be hung up on a timed challenge representing the evacuation of Echo Base that my daughter just finds frustrating, so I think I might have to do it solo to unlock the rest of the game.

The Play Set based on The Force Awakens is, in many ways, similar to "Rise Against the Empire". It doesn't have the v1.0-style customization options, and since it's based on a single movie rather than a trilogy, it can follow the movie's story a little more closely. (There's actually a code you have to type in from a website to unlock it, I think as an extra layer of protection against the game leaking plot spoilers for the new movie before it was released.) The mixture of planets and space-travel mechanic are similar. It comes with Rey and Finn, but you can still do crazy things like play as young Luke Skywalker in a story that is about searching for old Luke Skywalker. Though I haven't counted, it feels like there are actually more side missions to do in this one than in "Rise Against the Empire". There's also a "hologame console" that contains arcade-style mini-games.

The Force Awakens playset also feels like it has more bugs, though. It's really glitchy; weird things keep happening like characters becoming invisible or some of the audio cutting out. I suspect the level of secrecy they must have had to maintain prior to release, so as to avoid spoiling the associated movie, limited the amount of playtesting they could do. With luck we'll get patches in short order.

We also got a side game called "Toy Box Takeover", an isometric-perspective game reminiscent of v2.0's "Escape from the Kyln" that mashes together content from all versions and worlds of Disney Infinity in entertainingly silly fashion (the premise is that Syndrome from The Incredibles has gotten hold of the magic-wand tool and is messing with the fabric of your Toy Box's reality). You can use all of your figures in this one, so Iron Man can fight alongside Elsa, Mr. Incredible or Princess Leia. I'm liking it so far.

All in all, perhaps not worth the potentially hefty price tag, but there's a lot of fun to be had here.
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