Disney Infinity 3.0 (PS4) Review

THE SHORT VERSION


While I loved the last two Disney Infinity games, there were parts that felt a little empty. The lack of matchmaking and absence of substance in some of the Playsets made the games, while fun, feel a little cold over time. There's only so much one can build replicas of famous Disney locales in the Toy Box before it becomes a little tedious.

Fortunately, Disney Infinity 3.0 has filled the emptiness of its predecessors, and added some more stuff on top of it. It's a damn good game, and most importantly it's fun - which, given what the game's mechanics and aesthetic are themed around, is kind of a prerequisite. Those who felt that the straightforward and rather empty Playsets of the previous game in particular will be pleased to know those problems have been fixed. There's much more to do here, and pretty much everything added to the Infinity experience is an improvement.

Plus, now you can have Yoda fight Thor, or team up Iron Man and Boba Fett to kick butt together. Who doesn't love that?


STORY


Infinity 3.0 covers three Playsets; the two Star Wars stories of the Clone Wars-era Twilight of the Republic and Original Trilogy Rise of the Empire, and one themed around Pixar's recent Inside Out film. Each Playset, with a good 4 or 5 specific characters native to them, follow stories within their particular settings and universes.

In a first for the series, however, all Infinity characters from the different eras of the Star Wars universe can participate in either Playset, regardless of canon. Provided you find coins similar to the ones in 2.0 that allowed Iron Man to party with the Guardians of the Galaxy, you can have Obi-Wan Kenobi (young) receive quests on Tatooine from Obi-Wan Kenobi (old), or send Kanan and Ezra from Star Wars: Rebels into the Clone Wars fray alongside Anakin and Ahsoka. It's refreshing that figures are no longer firmly rooted to just a single Playset and the Toy Box, and the story is enhanced by its ability to mess with canon and not take itself too seriously that way.

The Playsets here harken back to the engaging rollicks I found in the Pirates and Incredibles Playsets from the first game. 2.0 suffered a little from having the New York settings feel devoid of colour and action, the sidequests relying mostly on different versions of 'go smack this guy and his bunch of Frost Giant buddies to proceed'. Thankfully, Disney have improved the experience here; the sidequests are improved, both from a story and gameplay perspective, and the worlds all feel more vibrant and full of life.



GAMEPLAY


It's virtually the same in terms of core mechanics as the previous two; movement, combat and vehicles are all kept pretty much the same. But really, if it ain't broke, why fix it? 3.0's simplicity of control merely makes it easier to get immersed in the worlds each Playset explores.

In addition to the advent of lightsabers, which really never gets old, characters can also execute complex button-presses for different attack combos. Each level up provides you with a quick tutorial on the best way to slice an enemy into little plastic parts, and I like that the game gets you to demonstrate you can pull it off before continuing. The skill trees have also separated their branches into separate sections - ranged attack, close combat, special abilities etc - making them easier to navigate and decide what kind of ability path you want to pursue.

While the controls for vehicles are pretty much unchanged, the flying controls feel a little awkward at times. A few rail shooter-esque sections in spacecraft can control a little haphazardly, and it can be very easy to crash into an asteroid and render your character into nothing but plastic ash. It's an ultimately minor quibble, though.

Of particular note is the Toy Box Takeover game, available in stores from October. To say I had - well, am having, I'm still playing at time of writing - fun with this is an understatement. This, to me, is what Infinity should've had from the start. It's a top-down, Diablo-esque adventure game where, after Syndrome steals Mickey Mouse's magic wand, you pick a character (or, in my case, half a dozen) and progress through a variety of worlds, battling iconic mooks and boss enemies, to get the wand back. It takes some of the core ideas behind last game's Escape from the Kyln and improves on them, mostly through having a greater variety of enemies to fight, settings to explore and treasures to find. The addition of different difficulties also makes it a more challenging experience (hence the dozen characters; some of them die pretty quickly on Hard). I can't recommend Toy Box Takeover enough. The Playsets are fun, most definitely, but Takeover is where 3.0 shines brightest for me.

The Toy Box itself is also a smoother experience, improving as always on the already fine quality of past games. There are more things added to the store, and the tutorials on how to manage certain toys and mechanics are well-implemented. There's also an online matchmaking option added through Flynn's Arcade from TRON, allowing you to connect with other players rather than relying on local multiplayer or people from your friends list. If, like me, you're part of the Minecraft creation game crowd, you'll get a lot out of this as well as the Playset campaigns.


VISUALS


The aesthetic of the previous games is maintained here; cartoonish, exaggerated and unique. The Clone Wars-era and Inside Out characters closely resemble their animated counterparts, and the Original Trilogy folks - due for release in October - have made the transition well, too.

The game runs a lot smoother than its forebears, at least on the PS4, and worlds look a lot more distinctive and visually gorgeous than previous games. The colour palettes for each Playset enhance the visuals, making them more immersive than the sterile greys and browns of New York in 2.0 particularly.


SOUND AND VOICE ACTING


Sound design is great. The effects from the Star Wars films - lightsaber swings, blaster shots, Darth Vader's respiratory difficulties - are reproduced perfectly here. I also have to give props for using the original John Williams score through the Star Wars Playsets, adding a real sense of cinematic majesty to the proceedings.

Voice acting...not so great. Some of the line deliveries are a little awkward, but I guess that's not what we're here for. To nitpick that too much would be missing the fun forest for the finicky trees. Maybe stick to the films if you're after an authentic vocal experience.


WRAPPING UP


I really can't express how much I love Disney Infinity 3.0. This review may have seemed gushy and largely devoid of hard-hitting criticism, but if the biggest quibble I can come up with is that the spaceships handle a little oddly then you know it's a good game. As with its two older siblings, 3.0 is subjective to taste - if you're not into the cartoon aesthetic and childlike charm of the experience, this might not be your thing. But, as someone who is into the cartoon aesthetic and childlike charm (and, lest we forget, the ability to do things like have Captain America fight Sam Flynn in a protracted 'who has the stronger disc' competition), I heartily recommend Disney Infinity's latest incarnation.

If nothing else, it's a hell of a lot of fun.

- Chris





Disney Infinity 3.0, as well as the Twilight of the Republic and Inside Out Playsets,
are available now for Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Wii U.

The Rise of the Empire Playset and Toy Box Takeover Toy Box game expansion
 are available October 2015.

Review copy supplied to Geek of Oz by Disney Australia.

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