Excelsior true believers!
The advent of collectible figures with built-in NFC chips has created an entirely new type of game?one where your toys come to life onscreen, creating a hybrid experience that appeals to a wide variety of players, particularly children.
Skylanders and Disney Infinity proved it?s possible for these games to transcend their novelty status and provide real value for the kind of money fans drop on these games. This year, Disney has tapped its Marvel Comics properties for the follow-up to Disney Infinity, and Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) represents a huge leap forward for the franchise.
Already, 28 new characters, three new Play Sets, and a whopping 82 new Power Discs have been announced for 2.0 Edition, releasing in phases between now and early 2015. The first batch of Play Sets features The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man, all of which include many of the most popular Marvel characters. The second series, coming in November, focuses on Disney Originals like Aladdin, Merida, and Donald Duck?characters that will only be playable in the Toy Box.
The basic structure of Play Sets and the Toy Box remains intact from the first game. Players must navigate the Play Sets to unlock many of the features in the Toy Box, and when in the Toy Box, you?re free to build and create to your heart?s content with everything you?ve unlocked.
But just because the game?s basics haven?t changed doesn?t mean you won?t see a whole slate of improvements, and developer Avalanche Software started by expanding the features in the Play Sets. The starter pack comes with one Play Set, The Avengers, as well as three figures: Iron Man, Thor, and Black Widow. This is both better and worse than the way the first game was presented: It?s nice that players no longer have to purchase anything additional for two people to play together, but instead of accessing three Play Sets out of the box, only The Avengers are available without an additional investment.
Fortunately, The Avengers Play Set is top-quality stuff. Loki has let the Frost Giants loose across Manhattan, and it?s up to our favorite heroes to thwart his nefarious plans. To do this, you?ll accept a variety of missions that will have you running around collecting power cells, thrashing bad guys, and just experiencing each hero?s powers.
Thanks to Brian Michael Bendis?Marvel scribe extraordinaire?the stories in each Play Set are brisk, with great dialogue and characterization. Playing through each scenario as different characters, accessing their unique abilities for the game?s many challenges, feels less like a chore than in the first game, because the characters themselves have such a wide array of powers here. In the spirit of the comic books, each Play Set even features a couple of unlockable crossover characters. For example, gallivanting through the streets of New York City as Rocket Raccoon as he tries to assist The Avengers is a blast.
Characters are no longer stagnant, either. Each one can be leveled up (with a level cap of 20), collect skill points, and learn new powers. This small nod to role-playing games makes the entire experience more dynamic. The skill trees offer a nice variety, and character growth makes a significant difference in some of the later fights. It?s important, however, to build up more than one character, since dying in battle means having to either go back to the last checkpoint or bring in a new character. If that new character isn?t powerful enough, starting a battle over may be the only viable choice.
The Play Sets feel slightly less diverse than those in the first Disney Infinity, and they can sometimes be repetitive. I attribute this to the game?s overall design, which skews young, leaving things like the fetch missions feel way too similar to each other. Thankfully, the Play Sets do offer a decent number of challenges for both one and two players, and winning gold medals in all of them takes practice. Hopefully, the Play Sets will continue to evolve and the campaigns will become more well-rounded, but these adventures provide a fun way to get acquainted with?and build up?your Marvel characters.
The other side of the coin is the Toy Box, where players can brew their own creations and dive into levels and games made by others. Here Avalanche has made a number of huge improvements, starting with the way each Toy Box is created. The editing tools are both more powerful and easier to use. This portion of the game now includes tools to paint entire backgrounds, and virtual Builders, such as Wreck-It Ralph?s Fix-It Felix and Eve from WALL-E, will construct buildings and other objects at your direction.
The usefulness of these features cannot be overstated. No longer do players have to construct and place every building in a city. Instead, a Builder can be instructed to construct for you as you concentrate on the foreground features such as designing challenges, balancing enemy and items drops, and tweaking the fine details of your dream level.
While the first Disney Infinity required you to explore each Play Set and scour every nook and cranny to find unlockables for the Toy Box, now players collect ?sparks? that are used as currency to purchase the majority of the toys. Those remaining?like specific character costumes and vehicles?are unlocked either by playing as a specific hero or completing missions. No more item hunts. Plus, sparks can be earned in both the Play Sets and the Toy Box, so there are plenty of opportunities to unlock everything you want.
Once you have all of your toys ready, it?s simpler than ever to create games. Items in the Toy Box are easier to link together, with more than 75 new objects that use ?Game Logic? to work with your creations. It?s now a snap to set up a quick game with defined rules and goals, and for those willing to take the time, it?s even possible to create multi-level games that can emulate nearly every genre (I still haven?t figured out how to do a first-person shooter, but I?m working on it!)
Two pre-structured ?Toy Box Games? are also included with the Starter Pack. These come on their own purple Power Discs and let you play with any combination of characters you choose, both locally and online. The first two Toy Box Games are a dungeon crawler and a tower-defense game, both of which provide another four to six hours of fun while showing the power and flexibility of the creation tools.
If all that weren?t enough, 2.0 Edition lets you bring all of your figures and Power Discs from the first game over to your Toy Box, so you can finally stage that Captain America/Mr. Incredible crossover you?ve always dreamed of. Those first characters even receive their own 20 levels to achieve?and plenty of new powers to go with them.
Disney has even made it easier to share finished Toy Box levels, and they?ve even added a ranking systems where players can give levels a thumbs up or thumbs down, making it easier to find the best creations.
As with the original, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) is the type of game that you must put in a lot of effort to receive an appreciable reward. While the Play Sets could still use a little work, the Toy Box more than makes up for any shortcomings. Just grab a few figures, unlock some toys, and let your imagination run wild. The best version of Disney Infinity hasn?t yet been made, but someone out there has the idea to make it.
|Developer: Avalanche Software ? Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios ? ESRB: E10+ – Everyone 10 and up ? Release Date: 09.23.14|
Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) takes last year?s tested formula and adds new features like leveling characters, streamlined editing tools for the Toy Box, and a cast of characters straight from your favorite Marvel comics and movies. While the new Play Sets are only a modest improvement over the ones from last year, the Toy Box is even more amazing, making this the perfect place for those wanting to express their creativity.
|The Good||The new leveling system gives additional incentive to playing with each character?a lot.|
|The Bad||Play Sets have fun stories, but the missions are repetitive and become a slog after a while.|
|The Ugly||Trying to get things ?just right? in your new Toy Box level may be responsible for some late nights and missed sleep.|
|Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) is available on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U with a PS Vita version coming in 2015 . Primary version reviewed was for PS4. A retail disc was provided by Disney Interactive for the benefit of this review.|