Disney infinity 2.0: Marvel super heroes

New heroes of the toy world just fall short of super
It was around the time that we were making the Spider-Man figurine cop off with Nova that we realised one important, slightly upsetting fact: these are the toys of the future. You see, when we were young, it was Barbies and Action Men and your imagination; fantasies constructed around the only dolls to hand, often resulting in Star Wars figurines taking part in marriages that crossed all sorts of boundaries, least of all those between species.

That third strut of childhood play imagination seems to be becoming less and less vital as games instruct you how to play, where to have fun and providing almost no opportunities for extraterrestrial hanky-panky. Disney Infinity 2.0 builds on the success of the first and of market rival Skylanders with a range of products, from figurines to Play Sets to Game Discs, which each unlock in-game content themed around Disney characters and franchises.

The game itself offers either open-ended, creative play in the Toy box or a more familiar, linear adventure experience with the Play Sets. The starter box comes with figurines for Thor, Iron man and black Widow half of the Avengers team and a Play Set that transports you into marvel’s New York, complete with Stark Tower and the Oscorp building .

Living dolls

While the whole ‘collectable figurine that doubles as in-game content’ thing is blowing up right now, it’s also a bit of a sign of the times, where technological advancement keeps infiltrating areas where it’s not necessarily needed, and we can’t help but feel that we’re giving kids a bit of a rough deal. The idea is brilliant: imagine if your toys could come to life!

It’s basically Toy Story minus the slightly creepy undertones and sense of lingering sadness at the end of the third film… but the reality remains much drier than that, because a game can only ever provide one narrative across the board.

This is one of the problems that permeate the Disney Infinity games: they sell ‘limitless creativity’ before gating it off and smacking you back towards the same sort of linear storylines you could find in any other game. The other problem is that it doesn’t even do the linear stuff that well.

What a shame to be playing this when we could be playing Lego marvel Super Heroes, a game that may have had a fairly simplistic combat system (smash the things, smash all the things) but one that got the mechanics so right. Flying was a joy, unlocking and switching characters was great fun, and the vehicles, though unrealistic to drive, never felt unwieldy. It’s like Disney Infinity peeked over at TT Games’ perfect, straight-margined handwriting, and hastily scribbled it all out in felt tip on the back of a napkin.

The basic premise is the same:play as one of a number of marvel characters, fight against evil, report to Nick Fury and complete his laundry list of missions but the elements just don’t quite feel right. combat appears to be fairly open, but you’re reduced to punching things a lot until you unlock special attacks and higher damage through the skill tree. The vehicles handle like cruise ships and bounce off walls like a rugby ball. missions lead you by the nose through a series of hoops, without giving you much incentive to explore or enjoy the game in any way other than the prescribed punching-yourway-to-victory.

infinite jest

It feels almost as if each element was created by a different person and given to yet another different person to turn into a game. The scale is very odd, both making the heroes look ridiculously tiny and giving the world a vast and empty atmosphere, a realm of wasted space underpopulated by both NPcs and setpieces. Dialogue falls well shy of the natural wit of marvel films, and often gets spoken over other lines as the narrator and the player character jostle each other for the right to talk at you.

The issue is that Disney Infinity 2.0 is trying too hard to be everything it think it should be. Disney is the master of brevity on the big screen, but in games it seems like a company constantly trying to catch up when it should be forging its own path. by stuffing so much into these games Toy boxes, Play Sets, Game Discs, customisable houses and an rPG-style character system the end result is that no aspect comes out quite right; nothing has a sufficiently satisfying level of depth, and the player is left feeling a little lost as to where to sink the most time.

There are moments of brilliance that deserve to have been more of a focus: the travel mechanics are impressive, with one of the best representations of Spider-man’s web-slinging we’ve seen (possibly since 2004’s movie tie-in), with wind rushing around you and a gratifying slow peak at the end of each swing. There’s also a huge amount of additional content, including franchises as niche as
current cult cartoon Gravity Falls and quirky kids’ show Phineas And Ferb, and Game Discs offering new mounts and weapons such as the Infinity Gauntlet (which is frankly too much power for one person to wield… so hopefully it’ll be priced a bit higher or something). Also like Lego marvel Super Heroes there are hundreds of collectibles in each level it’s great value for money in that sense. The
style is gorgeous too, with character redesigns that chunks everyone up and re-proportions them into stylish, collectible figurines.

play groupies

but even with all those lovely bits, at its heart Disney Infinity 2.0 is just an incredibly fiddly way to approximate an experience that can still be better achieved with the kind of toys we’ve been playing with for years. It’s understandable why Disney feels the need to keep forging ahead into the clearly lucrative world of figurineenhanced play, and reinventing an age-old method of entertainment is the kind of thing that sits right in its wheelhouse. but it just doesn’t gel together quite right, trying far too hard to impress you and hold your hand when simplicity would work so much better.

Once the initial thrill of franchise nostalgia or character recognition wears off, you might just find yourself reaching for your old reliable wooden train set instead.

Figuring out the Figurines

And we tell people our job isn’t playing with toys.

It’s strange to cast judgement on a real-life product in a game review a bit like giving the disc itself 9/10 for having a nice picture on it. But the figurines are genuinely lovely, designed in that same rounded-edge, blocky cartoon style that the game’s built around. Many of them are posed, with Iron Man clearly about to blast some poor villain with his hand lasers. We do worry that some of them are a little pointy in places Gamora’s sword and Spider-Man’s outstretched web hand could be the cause of many accidental superhero-based injuries, or could snap off mid-play.

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