Depending on how you look at it, Disney Infinity is either an ingenious concept that encourages families to share the joys of videogaming and teaches kids how to interact with a digital environment in fun and creative ways, or a cynical marketing ploy that shoves parents onto a perpetual treadmill of expenditure, where buying licensed goods is the only way to sate the demands of kids desperate to keep up with their friends.
But no matter how you see it, Disney Infinity is a lot of fun.
The Disney Infinity Starter Pack, which acts as a gateway to the experience, includes the game itself, three plastic figures based on The Incredibles, Pirates Of The Caribbean, and Monsters University, a Disney Infinity Base into which the characters slot, three Play Sets (more on those later), and a Power Disc that unlocks items in the game and allows players to personalise its creative options.
When the Starter Pack figures of Sully, Captain Jack Sparrow or Mr Incredible are slotted onto the Infinity Base, the toys spring to life on your television screen. From there, players can choose to explore the Play Sets, which are self-contained adventures where you complete challenges inspired by the characters’ respective movies, or plunge into the Toy Box where you can build worlds, design games and share your creations using a system that will be familiar to fans of LittleBigPlanet. Further fun comes in the adventures for each character, which include a series of enticing minigames, and down the line Disney Infinity promises users an ever-expanding universe of options as new figures, Play Sets and Power Discs are added to the library.
Out of the box, Infinity’s Play Sets will delight younger players as the quests are simple, lively and lovingly pay homage to the movies they’re based on, and most kids will also be thrilled to see their real-life toys magically appear on the TV screen. The Adventure options are also a great way to have some knockabout fun with familiar faces and team up for multiplayer showdowns, and given the package’s creative aspects it won’t be long before fellow gamers are sharing their own creations and catering for the demands of a wide variety of players.
But while the package offers incredible depth and longevity, Disney Infinity isn’t without problems.
Although the Toy Box is incredibly deep and driven by an intuitive interface and simple tutorials, it’s often hard to line-up pieces and get them to lock together, which may frustrate impatient children and won’t appeal to anyone with a short attention span. Unlocking essential tools for use in the Toy Box also depends on completing Play Set missions, but as these goodies are awarded randomly it can take hours of unrewarding play before you get your hands on the really useful stuff. But while other niggling flaws such as the lack of an ‘undo’ button when building and some disappointing visuals also taint Disney Infinity, this ambitious and cleverly conceived package is still a worthwhile investment for gamers with a young family, and the Starter Pack features a wealth of compelling content that will keep kids glued to their console. (Until they realise they can augment the experience with shiny new toys, that is.)
Reviewed by David McComb