Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes Review
The original Disney Infinity video game excelled first and foremost as an interactive virtual construction set so appropriately the sequel, Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes, builds directly on top of the original’s foundation rather than whipping out a new set of blueprints. Much of Disney Infinity still exists within the fabric of Disney Infinity 2.0 and for the most part those pieces interlock seamlessly. The majority of Disney Interactive’s improvements for their sophomore outing have rightfully been applied to the Toy Box 2.0 mode while the Starter Pack Play Set, The Avengers, plays a distant second fiddle as a less vital distraction.
Disney Infinity 2.0 marks the franchise’s debut on new-generation consoles. The PS4 version specifically that I played is visually superior to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of last year and runs smoother in instances where those older versions would lag and hiccup, i.e. when numerous villains attacked or the Toy Box got busy with movement and clutter. The jump to new-gen still lacks the aesthetic and cut-scene polish of the Toys to Life behemoth over at Activision, but does provide a noticeable improvement that combined with expanded storage for bigger Toy Box creations makes the upgrade worthwhile.
Surprisingly the load times run anywhere between 20 and 30 seconds despite the horsepower of PS4 working behind the scenes. This is even the case when starting an empty Toy Box for the first time and calls into question whether the game was fully optimized for new-gen consoles or if little is stored locally and everything must be continually read off the disc. Whatever the reason, the load times are persistent and not up to par with what’s expected from a PS4 game.
Disney Interactive has gone on record numerous times to proclaim they listened to fan requests and built in the features and changes that the vocal majority asked for. I never offered my wishlist to anyone at Disney Interactive yet my two biggest gripes were both addressed, so I can imagine these changes will universally appeal to the majority of players.
The first major change is in the Toy Box where the awful seemingly infinite scrolling menu of items to build with has been replaced by a more organized catalog system. Gone are the miniscule item icons impossible to read from a distance. They have been replaced by a much clearer single-row list of icons at the bottom of the screen segmented into race track, decorations, basic blocks, cast members, enemies, critters, Disney building sets, etc. collections so it’s much easier to find items sought after. Using DualShock 4, the items menu is accessed via the Touch Pad so it’s super easy and convenient to regularly call upon.
In Disney Infinity, the Toy Box items were either unlocked while playing through the various Play Sets, or others bought via a randomizer using spins collected for leveling up or completing objectives. That nightmare is all gone, replaced by a massive Toy Store so that any item can be bought at any time using Sparks as currency. Now players who could care less about Play Sets and only want to build can do so without the reliance on Play Sets to get the coolest items. This is a fantastic new direction, and to further polish it the Toy Store is broken up into numerous themed areas so that — once again — what is sought can be easily located.
Toy Box 2.0 has some new modes that offer more to do beyond building from a blank slate. Treasure Hunt is a Toy Box preamble that temporarily opens up Aladdin, Tinkerbell, Meridia and Stitch as playable characters chasing a Spark through character-appropriate locations. It’s a shame that Disney Interactive’s 2.0 Marvel agenda has pushed back the Disney Originals figures into November; this short stint playing as four new Disney Originals characters helps soften the blow.
Once Treasure Box completes it opens up into a new Toy Box hub that successfully replaces the first game’s disconnected tutorials. Various NPC characters are running around offering tasks to complete that expand the Toy Box hub and simultaneously teach the tricks of the trade to build the coolest Toy Boxes around.
Treasure Box will temporarily suck younger players away from the main Toy Box 2.0, but INteriors is destined to be the biggest distraction of them all. I liken this mode to building the X-Men mansion one room at a time and then outfitting it with the spoils of new items unlocked. There’s a butler that I shall fight every instinct to call “Alfred,” and he ensures the somewhat klutzy control scheme for improving the INterior is quickly learned so the building and accessorizing can commence. Every new room configuration unlocked as an item can be used in INteriors as well as Toy Box 2.0 to make the two modes feel a little less unattached, and cooperative two-player does work in INteriors despite its conceptual design around self expression.
Hall of Heroes returns with the same coliseum area for all the Disney Infinity figures and Power Discs along with a new garden area for all the new Disney Originals figures and Power Discs. It’s great to see that Disney Interactive didn’t forget about all the plastic toys many players have already invested dollars in. Rather than let the Marvel and Disney character statues mingle, a completely separate Marvel Hall of Heroes is available for those figures and Power Discs, set on the Helicarrier bridge.
Shifting gears back to Toy Box 2.0 proper, the most talked-about improvement is the most impacting as it will spur younger players to catch on quicker as well as promote laziness for players who can’t be bothered with building creations one block at a time. Starting a Toy Box is now a choice between empty, Treehouse, City, Race Track or Terrain. Choosing an option other than empty creates a new world on the fly to the theme that is different each time; tested and proven.
These options are also available within an empty Toy Box so, for example, let a bunch of builders loose and they will construct City buildings of a type and location of their choosing. Then select Race Track and one will appear within 30 seconds or so. These don’t-do-it-yourself tools won’t appeal to the hardcore Toy Box creators, but do serve a purpose for less involved participants and work remarkably well.
Veteran Toy Box builders will love the welcome addition of a text bubble creator, appropriate for a comic book-inspired game; the ability to restrict core Toy Box actions; and the ability to create structured challenge games within an empty Toy Box. All function as advertised and there’s nothing negative to say about any of them.
Disney Infinity’s Toy Box is often referred to as a simplified version of Minecraft. If that’s the case then Escape from the Kyln, one of two mini-game Power Discs inclusive to the Starter Pack, is a beginner’s introduction to the world of dungeon crawling i.e. Diablo. The gist of Escape from the Kyln is to escape the infamous prison from Guardians of the Galaxy one cell block at a time while having free reign to rotate the three-quarters top-down camera in a circular manner. This involves playing with a sidekick character who can be enhanced along the way with sidekick gear from a main hub area. Throwing this sidekick through doors is necessary to pass some areas, and it’s hilarious to throw him all over the place and watch him fly.
There are secrets hidden within Escape from the Kyln including an Exploration Survival mode that generates worlds on-the-fly, like a Candy Crush-inspired world, and populates them with themed enemies, such as Zurg bots. Beat one world and jump to the next with however much health is left after the previous fight and continue until defeated. The worlds and enemy placements are different each time so it’s like a game-within-a-game-within-a-game and a neat thing to stumble onto.
The second mini-game Power Disc is Assault on Asgard and nowhere near as entertaining as Kyln. This mini-game is a cross between tower defense and defeating waves of enemies in interactive combat. Choosing the types of weaponry and where to place them is cumbersome for an adult so a child might struggle figuring this one out. There’s no sidekick to throw or outfit so the fun factor aside from more combat is limited.
Disney Interactive’s choice of three figures to include with the Starter Pack are spot-on for a Marvel game centered around an Avengers Play Set. Iron Man is the most recognizable Avenger of them all and introduces flight to the franchise, negating the need for Buzz Lightyear’s jet pack for every character in the Toy Box. Thor is a great mix between his easily controlled hovering flight that I absolutely love, ranged attacks by throwing Mjolnir, and using Mjolnir for up close and personal melee fighting. Last but not least is Black Widow who will appeal to female and male players alike with her swift gymnastic melee moves and dual firearms.
A big deal has been made about Disney Infinity 2.0 characters having a level tree and rightfully so. There’s more incentive to level up to the new cap of 20 in order to gain tokens to spend on new abilities and weapons. Skylanders figures had a definite edge in this area and now the playing field is a little more level.
There are other NPC characters that will make cameo appearances such as Wasp, one of the original Avengers. She is part of an Avengers Play Set mission and is unlocked once the mission is completed. Wasp then becomes available to place in Toy Box 2.0 as a full-sized character, but she doesn’t interact with other characters and basically wanders around like a zombie. At least Thor acknowledged Wasp with dialogue in the Toy Box 2.0 when he got close to her.
The Avengers Play Set is most comparable to The Incredibles Play Set from Disney Infinity with its urban playground to run around in. Manhattan anchored by the Avengers tower is far bigger than The Incredibles Play Set city, as is to be expected in a sequel. Note that unfortunately The Incredibles Play Set or any Disney Infinity 1.0 Play Set will not work in Disney Infinity 2.0. This is the only forward compatibility issue so hang on to the original game to get further use out of those old Play Sets.
Missions in the Avengers Play Set are a mix of familiar tasks including escorting vehicles, killing Loki’s Frost Giants of various ranks, and running around and atop the city via launching pads to collect items and put them to use. It’s more impressive to be playing an actual Avengers-themed game with cool characters than anything the gameplay has to offer specifically. Collectors can rejoice as feats have returned and are fun to try and conquer approximately 50 of them, and there are 20 bonus boxes to collect for each character type including tech, wall crawling, flight, super jump and maximum strength.
I have to call attention to the first vehicle unlocked, the S.H.I.E.L.D. motorcycle. Good luck to anyone trying to keep this bike in any lane; it takes loose steering to a whole other level of impossible. The saving grace is the bike bounces off walls and smashes through traffic like a Mad Max armored truck barreling down a train track.
Out in the open and impossible to miss are 10 crossover coins for Rocket Raccoon and Nova, figures for the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man Play Sets, respectively. These coins once collected will allow those figures to work within the Avengers Play Set. I was originally saddened to learn that Nick Fury cannot crossover from Spider-Man, but it makes sense considering his NPC characters doles out the Avengers missions.
There’s no denying that Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes builds upon the original in most areas without losing much of anything that the original has to offer. It’s like adding a new tier to a cake so the original tier remains intact. While there are notable in-game improvements, Disney Interactive has chosen to ignore physical toy innovation — at least for this year.
If you’re in the market for either a solid superhero game or a better Disney Infinity game than the original then Disney Infinity 2.0 assembles all the right pieces. Your mileage will vary on this Starter Pack for the sole reason that it is so Marvel-centric outside of the Toy Box. A non-Marvel alternative won’t be available until six weeks after the Starter Pack arrives.
This Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes review was played on PlayStation 4 using a Starter Pack furnished by Disney Interactive. The review only reflects the Starter Pack content that includes the game disc, two mini-game Power Discs, the Infinity Base and three figures: Thor, Black Widow and Iron Man. Additional figures and two additional Play Set Packs are sold separately and will be covered and/or scored separately.
Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes was reviewed on PS4 and furnished by Disney Interactive for the purposes of this review. It comes to Xbox One, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U on September 23, 2014.
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