Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack Review: The Force is Strong With This One

Disney Infinity 3.0 is far from a perfect game. Sadly some of the problems plaguing the first two versions return to rear their ugly head while the new lower price hides an unfortunate side effect. Throw Star Wars into the mix and the much ballyhooed recruitment of Ninja Theory to develop the Jedi fighting style and, along with Avalanche Software’s continued Toy Box evolution, the latest Starter Pack overcomes its negatives to deliver the most enjoyable and addictive franchise entry yet.

Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm a few years ago made the Star Wars universe ripe to headline a Disney Infinity installment. With Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens debuting in December, this year was the logical choice for a galaxy far, far away to lead Disney’s toys-to-life franchise.

The Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack carries an SRP of $64.99 or $10 less than the previous installments and the competition. A lower price is always welcome; however, in this case there’s less value packed into the box. The figure count has been reduced from three to two with Star Wars: The Clone Wars versions Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano claiming the coveted spots. The two Toy Box expansion games included in last year’s version are now absent and sold separately, while the same Infinity Base returns for its third tour of retail and one-way ticket into the back of closets everywhere. A web code card with PC and mobile content is also included. The exclusions feel like more than $10 worth of value has been removed.


Twilight of the Republic Play Set

Disney Interactive has cleverly packaged the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy into the Starter Pack with the Twilight of the Republic Play Set rather than the more sought after Original Trilogy narrative and characters. In other words, you have to buy the Prequel stuff to play the Original Trilogy stuff.

Ahsoka Tano is a gutsy inclusion choice given her existence is limited to Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels television series, and mass audiences might not know who the colorful Jedi Padawan is. When paired with Anakin, there’s a strong male and female Jedi warriors for brother and sister siblings to enjoy right out of the box regardless of her popularity and visibility.

Ninja Theory is credited with developing the Twilight of the Republic Play Set and their expertise in the hack-and-slash gaming genre dating back to Heavenly Sword for PS3 and the upcoming game Hellblade shines through. A Jedi’s weapon is a tool built for melee combat and Ninja Theory injects fluidity into attacking, defending and using the Force against Battle Droids and other enemies that equals the gameplay redefining addition of flight into last year’s Marvel Superheroes edition.

Ahsoka Working Her Two Lightsabers

Ahsoka Working Her Two Lightsabers

Not only has Ninja Theory delivered the most intense and enjoyable combat experience in Twilight of the Republic, they’ve also built the first Disney Infinity Play Set that feels like an actual standalone video game. Last year’s Marvel Play Sets felt a little too much like going through the same motions in contrived and uninteresting narratives. In Twilight of the Republic there’s a better story that weaves in characters from The Clone Wars while cleverly revisiting situations and sets from the Prequel Trilogy in new ways, far more dialogue-driven cut-scenes with a menacing Darth Maul and James Arnold Taylor from The Clone Wars TV show voicing Obi-Wan, and four planets with radically different environments to explore every nook and cranny.

Planet-hopping involves boarding a star ship and spending a brief amount of time just above the planet’s surface. During a planet’s first visit there’s a light amount of combat involved and the lose flight controls leave a lot to be desired. While it’s tough to line up a shot, the blast radius is more than forgiving so even sloppy aimers won’t have issues taking care of business.

Aiming is Not Easy

Aiming is Not Easy

One carryover from previous Play Sets is the inclusion of outright silly and pointless secondary missions not required to complete the main campaign. Even kids might balk at having to collect lost pets on the battlefields of Geonosis. At roughly two-to-three hours in length the Twilight of the Republic Play Set campaign feels short, but the extra stars to collect and numerous collectibles make a strong case to return for many subsequent explorations.

Another unfortunate carryover is the difficult camera that can wreak havoc when characters are maneuvered into tight corners. It’s not a deal breaker, yet by the third game I would have hoped the camera controls could tighten up more.

The Toy Box Hub

There are two types of Disney Infinity players. The first group that I fall into plays more for the opportunity to own cool high-quality figures of recognizable characters and play with them through campaigns. The other type flexes their creative muscles in the Toy Box by building new worlds or downloading those built by the massive and still growing Toy Box Artists community. For the latter, Disney Infinity 3.0 once again builds directly on top of its predecessors with new features and tweaks while keeping the previous games’ artistic tools intact, such as a revamped edition of time-sucker, MyInterior.

The Toy Box Hub is a Magical Place

The Toy Box Hub is a Magical Place

The new Toy Box Hub is more intuitive and inviting than any previous iteration with interactive tutorials, missions and secrets to uncover. One could conceivably spend several hours exploring this area and taking on challenges before touching a Play Set or the Toy Box. There’s crops for Sidekicks to plant and eat, hidden presents to find, a Main Street that taps into online play with Flynn’s Arcade, and much more. I know I spent a fair amount of time in the Toy Box Hub, and I suspect I’m far from the only one.

As one might expect there are new toys and goodies aligned to the Star Wars brand in the Toy Box. I’ve grown particularly fond of the Toy Dispenser that dispenses with the need to unlock all the toys via gameplay, and the Path Creator is a fantastic tool for more advanced Toy Box Artists to utilize as they guide characters and objects along a predefined path.

One area where the Toy Box has taken a step back is in the menus. It’s no easy feat creating a menu system where you have hundreds of different Toy Box items and control at your disposal. The menu organization is tough for kids to navigate, and this applies to the Skill Trees as well that have been broken up into multiple tabs and are tough to navigate without mistakes.

There is a Reason for Another Pod Race

There is a Reason for Another Pod Race

Like its predecessors, Disney Infinity 3.0 still suffers from a variety of glitches that the franchise cannot seem to shake. In the Toy Box or My Interior on PlayStation 4 I have encountered two outright freezes, numerous stutters, clipping, and some abnormally long load times. These issues keep the franchise a notch below AAA status and unfortunately are a byproduct of a game that allows its players to have so much creative freedom.

The Toys

I don’t know whether it’s Star Wars or advances in technology or more likely a combination of the two, but the first wave of Disney Infinity 3.0 figures are aesthetically the best looking figures released in the Disney Infinity franchise yet. Starter Pack figures Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano are perfectly posed for their personalities while the sculpt and paint details scream high-end more so than the actual game does.

Extending beyond the Starter Pack, complimentary sold-separately figures like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and four characters that naturally make fantastic looking figures from Star Wars Rebels elevate the enjoyment of playing Twilight of the Republic or simply look great sitting on a shelf. Darth Maul is coming later this year and he looks like the coolest Star Wars Prequel Trilogy figure of the bunch. Avalanche Software’s decision to allow any Star Wars figure playable in any Star Wars Play Set is certainly a welcome addition that needs to carryover into the Marvel and Disney franchises.

I would have loved for the Jedi characters to have light-up lightsabers out the gate as the technology’s inclusion seems natural and warranted. Those FX figure versions are coming later this year and will cost extra to procure.

Final Thoughts

Disney Infinity 3.0 selling like hotcakes is about as sure a thing as Toydarian junk dealer Watto not falling for Jedi mind control tricks. That’s the Star Wars effect in full “force.

Even if Star Wars wasn’t the lead theme, the Toy Box and new Toy Box Hub can still carry the game on its back for those who appreciate creative expression. Anyone not interested in running around Twilight of the Republic looking for collectibles will have to lean on the Toy Box after blowing through the inclusive Play Set’s campaign, or else shell out $35 for the sold-separately Inside Out Play Set to extend the gameplay adventure.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack

Despite its glitches and minor annoyances, Disney Infinity 3.0 is a blast to play while the Star Wars themes, physical character toys and classic John Williams music make a good thing even better. I liken the attraction effect to that of LEGO Jurassic World from this past summer. There’s something alluring about a grand nostalgic movie series being recreated in video game form complete with its iconic score. Something… elusive.

The Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a retail copy provided by Disney Interactive. It is available as of August 30, 2015 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Wii U.

This review or score does not include the Disney Infinity 3.0 Inside Out Play Set, two Toy Box Expansion Packs, Rise of the Empire Play Set, individually sold figures, or any future digital or physical additions to the game. Those will be reviewed and scored separately at a later date.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Review
out of 5

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