Review: Disney Infinity 3.0 (PS4)

disney-infinity-3-gma-review-banner-ps4

Title: Disney Infinity 3.0
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (14.3 GB)
Release Date: August 30, 2015
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Avalanche Software
Original MSRP: $64.99 / $119.99 (Saga Bundle Starter Pack) / $19.99 (Digital Download)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Disney Infinity 3.0 is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, iOS, and Android.
The PlayStation 4 Starter Pack version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes which included Anakin, Ahsoka, and the Twilight of the Republic Play Set. We also received the Twilight of the Republic Power Disc Pack, the Toy Box Takeover Play Set, and twelve other characters from the Disney Infinity 3.0 line.
PS Nation Review Policy

Golden Minecart Award Winner 2015
– Best Family Friendly Game (PS4)

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 439 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
Having already had some extensive hands-on time with various aspects of the game at E3 and a Sony event in New York last month (detailed here) I was excited to finally get my hands on the full game and see everything it had to offer. I was genuinely surprised at the package Disney sent us but realized that it made sense in the context of reviewing the game in full.

Jumping right in with the Twilight of the Republic Play Set, a huge smile came across my face as the familiar Star Wars logo popped up on the screen and the iconic John Williams score blared forth.

Seeing the text crawl to set up the story like the start of every movie just amped me up even more. Look, I was seven years old when the first Star Wars movie came out and, like almost everyone else my age, it had a huge impact on my childhood. It’s woven into my life so deeply that it’s just a part of who I am.

This Play Set is designed to be like others in previous games but on a much bigger scale. There’s just so much more to do on each of the four planets available to you and it makes the game feel much more complete than previous versions.

I played a lot of the game with my three-year-old son, Mason, sitting on my lap directing me. I did however realize that he wanted to replay a lot of the same missions over and over again so I found the time to continue deeper into the game and the Toy Box on my own.

… Replayability is high …
You have a set of main story missions which will take you across the planet levels and a ton of optional side missions. Completing them will net you one to three stars depending on the length and difficulty of each.

Replayability is high here since attaining the coveted (at least by Mason… well okay, by me too) three stars will often require you meet certain parameters that you won’t even be aware of until after the mission.

You may be tasked with completing the mission as Yoda and with knocking five droids off a ledge, or completing it as Chewbacca and on Extreme Difficulty. Now I know, it sounds like a sneaky way of getting people to buy more of the characters, and for a completionist it certainly is.

The thing is, none of this is required. You can play straight through the missions and/or side missions without any concern for how many stars you’ve earned. They’re really there to push the replayability.

… no Olaf fighting General Grievous …
Speaking of which, replaying missions is a great way to level up your characters, so it helps that it’s a lot of fun. Obviously, in the Twilight of the Republic pack you’ll only be able to play as the Star Wars characters, so no Olaf fighting General Grievous – within the Play Set anyway.

At the start, you’ll only be able to use Anakin, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan, and Yoda. To play as characters from Star Wars Rebels or characters from the Classic Trilogy you’ll need to find their coins hidden within the Play Set.

Unlike previous versions of the game, you don’t have to hunt down ten coins to unlock a character, you just need one. This is a huge relief and it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable. I can’t tell you how long Mason and I wandered around virtual New York looking for the last coins just to unlock Rocket Raccoon in the Avengers Play Set in Disney Infinity 2.0.

The best part is, when moving from Geonosis to Coruscant, Tatooine, and Naboo, each planet has their own unique set of missions based on the story elements and their own unique geography and locales. Nothing ever feels tacked on or repetitious so completing all the side missions is actually fun instead of drudgery.

… choose wisely when upgrading your character …
You’ll definitely want to complete all of them anyway and with as many different characters as you can. You’re always going to be collecting sparks throughout the levels with Blue and Orange being the most important.

Collecting Orange Sparks will level up your character allowing you to upgrade them using the new Skill Tree. Broken out into different sections, the Skill Tree is now a lot easier to use and make sense of.

You’ll always be limited in what you can upgrade even at the highest level but you can reset everything once at Level Ten and once again at Level Twenty to make different choices. These resets can only be done once so choose wisely when upgrading your character.

The Blue Sparks are the in-game currency and they’re used to purchase anything and everything from the Toy Box. This is all the stuff you use to create your own levels or decorate your own space in the “My INterior” section. Everything from terrain, to buildings, to vehicles and decorations is available here and it’ll take a lot of time to gather enough Blue Sparks to buy it all.

The My INterior section is where you can design your own “house” with as many rooms and decorations as you want. I added in a S.H.I.E.L.D. command center which became a combat training room every time I went down on the floor. I was able to use it to level up a number of my characters. You’ll even be able to add special sidekick rooms which will unlock some nice bonuses as well.

We didn’t get the Rise Against The Empire Play Set for review but I did get some good hands-on time with it in New York about a month back so here are my impressions from that:

I flew a mission against the Death Star and the space combat felt great. It was a series of dogfights, protection, avoidance, and straight destruction that’s generally on rails with a little bit of leeway.

What’s really cool with this Play Set is that when you finish a mission you’ll jump into a ship and fly off into space to head to the next one. You’re not automatically taken there however and you’ll have a chance to fly around to above the planet in a small free roam environment.

Along with the Death Star I checked out Hoth and Endor. On Hoth, I was tasked to take down advancing AT-AT’s which was done in a number of ways.

On foot, you’ll run up to the advancing Walkers and shoot at the legs. The armor eventually breaks off revealing the toy-like nature of it and hand holds to get up to the body of the Walker. Once there a battery compartment opens (like an actual C battery) and you have to knock that out. Repeat for the other three legs and the Walker is down.

Of course it wouldn’t be the battle of Hoth however if you couldn’t fly a Snowspeeder and of course I did. Just like the movies you’ll grapple the legs to bring them down. What’s cool is that the falls are procedurally generated so they’ll look different and we saw some funny ones.

… the chance to steal a speeder bike …
Even more fun though is to fly past the top of the Walker and jump onto it. There’s a big button up by the head that will eject the driver and a big remote control on the back that will allow you to take control of the Walker itself. You can jump on buttons for forward, left, right, and fire so if you get one early in the battle you can turn it against the others.

The remote can even be removed from the back and taken with you. That way you can stand on the ground away from the battle and just go to town. If you’re playing co-op you can even have Walker fights.

Endor looked fantastic as well and I did a few missions for Wicket and Lando even getting the chance to steal a speeder bike. I was playing as Leia at first and we dropped a costume Power Disc under her to swap her into the bounty hunter costume. The entire Play Set is massive and will keep everyone busy for days on end.

The combat this time around is much more satisfying. Whereas before, it tended to feel very similar between characters, everyone has a distinct style and Skill Tree now.

Disney has listened to the players and their complaints about the earlier games and instead of trying to figure out the combat on their own, they’ve enlisted Ninja Theory to great success. With their deep experience in sword-based combat games, they were the perfect choice to bring lightsabers to the Disney Infinity universe.

Each character now feels entirely unique in their style and approach and the combat feels much more fluid and fun. This goes for everyone from Ahsoka and her two lightsabers to Olaf and his carrot nose projectile. It really makes having more characters more worthwhile than just collecting. And just wait till you pull off their finishing moves.

For the driving mechanics in the game, also sorely in need of some upgrades, both Sumo Digital and United Front Games were brought in to fix things up. Veteran players should notice an immediate difference in the handling of all vehicles.

Where this is really going to pay off however is with the release of the Toy Box Speedway in late October. Priced at $19.99, this expansion comes in the form of a Play Set piece. It will include nine tracks with battle races, timed races, and a stunt arena.

… missions which will explain a lot of the nuances …
I got to play with this at E3 for a bit and even while driving one of the most awkward vehicles I was able to hold my own and was in first for much of the race. Expect a lot of Mario Kart-esque and Sonic All-Stars Racing type madness but with characters and vehicles from across all three Disney Infinity games.

The Toy Box Hub has also undergone a major upgrade. Since creation is a big part of the game, the development team has put a lot of effort into making it a much better experience for newcomers and veterans of the series alike.

The first time you step into it the entire world is white, like a blank canvas waiting for you to bring it to life. Speaking with each of the Toy Box hosts fills in their section of the world with bright and beautiful colors.

The hosts will give you a series of missions which will explain a lot of the nuances of the game. They’ll teach you about vehicles, combat, exploration, platforming, creation, and more. The Sidekick Host is a good one to start with as the sidekicks have been upgraded from the earlier games.

… make the sidekicks more useful than ever …
You’ll learn how to get your sidekick to farm. Yup, farm. Because they need to eat to level up their abilities and attributes. You’ll want to do this because you can have them at your side in combat and they’ll actually do a great job taking out enemies for you, when leveled up of course.

You’ll unlock new hats, tools, and weapons for your sidekicks which will give them the edge in combat and farming. The hats have a variety of uses including helping them grow specific foods, giving them better abilities in combat, and so on.

You can even toss sidekick into special doors throughout the game where they’ll be able to bring you back gifts, weapons, or even just unlock doors. It’s a great way to boost their abilities and make the sidekicks more useful than ever.

Your upgraded sidekick will really come in handy with the other expansion coming in October, The Toybox Takeover, also for $19.99. This Play Set puts you into a Diablo inspired dungeon crawler where Syndrome has stolen Merlin’s wand and you’ll need to get it back. We’ve been playing this one for a while now, loving every minute of it.

… a gauntlet created by Syndrome …
You’ll jump into themed levels, Pirates of the Caribbean, Marvel, Star Wars, and more, fighting off waves of enemies on your way to a boss battle at the end of each level. There are collectibles to be found and sidekicks to unlock so the replay value is pretty high here.

After a few levels you’ll unlock the Hero Destroyer. This is a gauntlet created by Syndrome that gets progressively harder each time through. There are sidekicks to unlock here so it’s worth fighting your way through the boss battles at the end of each level while still remembering to search for collectibles hidden throughout.

Having a good sidekick with decent combat abilities is important here because without them taking on some of the enemies, you’re sure to get slaughtered, even with a high level character. It’s a fantastic addition with some really funny writing and it’s well worth the extra purchase when it becomes available.

The rest of the main Toy Box Hub will teach you about combat, platforming, vehicles and more just like the previous games. What you learn and how you learn it within these side missions however, makes all the difference.

… all sorts of fun in our own little world …
After completing all the tutorials, which are all really fun by the way so I encourage you to do so, I had a much better understanding of how to create my own levels and even use some of the more advanced features. It didn’t make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it gave me a really solid foundation that I feel was lacking in the previous games.

It was enough that I was able to jump into a blank Toy Box space and begin creating a world with my son. We spent hours adding and removing bridges, buildings, windmills, decorations, and more and we played around in there fighting enemies, driving cars, and just having all sorts of fun in our own little world.

This was a huge accomplishment for me as I always wanted to do this in the earlier games but never felt like I really had a good grasp of how it all worked. It left me uneasy and overwhelmed with the idea of trying to create something on my own but this has turned that all around.

The other big section of the Toy Box Hub is the Main Street area which is modeled after the one in the Disney theme parks. You can enter Flynn’s arcade from here to partake in some multiplayer games (more on that later), or head into El Capitan, the theater where Disney holds all their movie premieres.

… unlock shimmering statues of the characters you own …
From El Capitan, you can watch the latest episode of Toy Box TV, Disney’s weekly show on YouTube dedicated to the game, or download the latest levels created by Disney and the rest of the community. Granted, this is all available directly from the menu as well, but this just makes it more fun.

You’ll even be able to find three doors to a themed Hall of Heroes for each version of the game. The original Disney Infinity one is set in a garden, Marvel is set in the helicarrier command center, and Star Wars is set in the ceremony room from the end of A New Hope. Each will unlock shimmering statues of the characters you own as you level them up.

Spending time in the Hub getting to know more about the game is worthwhile because presents will randomly appear the longer you’re there. These are always something from the Toy Store so it becomes one less thing you’d need to buy with the Blue Sparks you’ve collected around the levels.

One other really great change they’ve made in the real world portion of the game is how the Power Discs are sold now. In the past, $5 would get you a blind two pack, leading to many doubles, wasted money, and eBay gouging on single discs.

… jump right into any levels …
Moving forward, all discs are sold as sets in themed packs that show you exactly what you’re getting – and they’re all the same. Each set runs $9.99 for four discs which is essentially the same cost per disc as the blind sets. This is a huge win for the consumer and will make buying the discs a lot more attractive for people like me.

Within the menu you’ll find the aforementioned Toy Box TV along with a quick way to jump to the main Toy Box Hub or any online levels available to play directly from the internet or to download.

Your friends are even broken out into their own little section and you’ll be kept up to date on their accomplishments in the game and you’re even able to jump right into any levels they’ve created.

While we didn’t get it for review, I did get to play a bit of the Inside Out Play Set at E3 so here are my impressions from that event:

I started with the Inside Out playset which takes place after the movie and contains more than twenty-five levels. Riley watches a scary movie right before bed and it scatters all her memories in dreamland. The emotions are sent out to collect the memory balls and return them to the right place.

… hidden areas and collectibles …
This Play Set is unique in that it’s pretty much a traditional puzzle-platformer and honestly it looked a lot like an Inside Out themed LittleBigPlanet level. That’s not all there is however as it changes from a traditional side scroller to a 3D isometric view and even switches gravity similar to Ibb and Obb.

If you’re playing with two players, one can run along the top while one runs along the bottom. It even includes Leaderboards at the end of every level to add to the replayability. The two player mode doesn’t do split screen though, the camera simply pulls back instead.

Each of the emotions has their own special ability. For example, Anger can run across lava, Sadness can stand on clouds, Disgust can jump really high off clouds, Fear is fast, and Joy glides when she jumps. Many hidden areas and collectibles are only accessible with those specific abilities.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

Now I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it too. In order to find everything in the Play Set you’ll need to buy every character right? Nope. They’ve actually added a cool feature where you can switch to any other character at any time for about thirty seconds. That’s always enough time to be able to switch characters and grab some out of reach memory before you switch back if you’re good.

In co-op you can even combine abilities to solve puzzles by carrying characters. The platforming felt good and the collectible objects combined with a ticking clock on each level really made for an exciting experience.

The Inside Out Play Set is currently available for $39.99 and it includes Joy and Anger as well as the Play Set piece.

Visuals:
It’s Disney, how can it look anything but great? Well, I did come up against some weird graphical glitches every now and then but they seemed to be entirely random. I know because we’ve played through the same levels dozens of times (three-year-old, remember?) and while the glitches appeared in a few places they don’t appear to be in the same place the next time we play it.

I actually haven’t noticed them as much or at all the longer we’ve been playing so either a patch took care of most of the issues or I’m just not noticing them at all anymore. I think it’s more likely the former. (*Update: These issues appear to have been fixed in a patch)

The locations and characters are all beautifully designed with such a wonderful attention to detail. Even though they both have similar outdoor terrain, Geonosis and Tatooine are both unique and instantly recognizable.

Even the way different characters move is taken into account with each having their own little nuances such as Olaf’s body segments separating slightly each time he jumps. It all really makes the game come to life and makes each of the characters feel exactly the way they should.

… hear the same actor playing the same character …
Audio:
With Star Wars tied to the game, what would you expect? The music of John Williams is used throughout the themed sections along with plenty of authentic Star Wars sound effects. If you grew up with it, and really that’s pretty much anyone under the age of 50 at this point, you’re going to love it.

Everyone who voiced a character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels is here to reprise their roles in the game. It makes a huge difference for fans of both shows to hear the same actor playing the same character and I give high marks to Disney for going the extra mile here. They even got Josh Gad and Ming-Na Wen to voice Olaf and Mulan respectively, it’s fantastic.

Online/Multiplayer:
You have a couple of options with the multiplayer so let’s start with local. Playing a local two-player game is as easy as adding a second figure to the base and turning on a second controller. The game immediately goes split-screen and you’re good to go.

Much like LittleBigPlanet, you’ll find a few areas in the Play Sets that are “walled off” so to speak, available only to two players. So you might want to make some (real world) friends.

If you want to enter Flynn’s Arcade and play some of the multiplayer matches set up by the developers (and get two Trophies) you may become a bit frustrated. As of this review, I have been able to actually get into and compete in one online match. The other couple dozen I’ve attempted have all failed.

Most failed attempts will kick me right back to the arcade but some will drop me into random places with two to three other players. At first I thought this might be a lobby system but we’d sit in all of these random places fighting each other while waiting for something to happen… and it never did. After about ten minutes or so we’d all quit back to the Main Menu and start the process all over again.

I’ve tried, a lot, to play any of the five different online matches but for now it seems to be very broken. I haven’t been able to find anything on the official forums about it so I don’t know for sure if it’s just me but I don’t really have this problem with any other game so I doubt that that’s the case.

Conclusion:
If you haven’t figured it out by now, well, you obviously didn’t read the couple thousand words above this did you? Here it is in a nutshell: I love this game.

I’ve said in the past that I’m not really an old-school Disney guy. I was raised on the Warner Bros. catalog and that’s where a lot of my sense of humor comes from. I never really got the whole Mickey Mouse gang.

I am however a huge fan of the Disney and Pixar animated movies as well as a crazy Marvel and Star Wars nerd so pretty much everything about the game is calling out to me like a siren.

The upgrades to the gameplay along with all the extra content and, duh, Star Wars make Disney Infinity 3.0 a huge leap forward for the franchise and something that every parent should be happy to enjoy with their kids.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4 with the exception of the screens used in the Rise Against The Empire and Inside Out excerpt sections which were provided by the publisher.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg

Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook