Excelsior! Disney Infinity returns with Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes, a more videogame-centric take on the Infinity concept, but one that doesn’t lose sight of the joy of simple “play”.
Last year, Disney entered the competitive but highly lucrative toys-that-are-also-videogames market with the original Disney Infinity. While the inspiration for Disney Infinity wasn’t hard to read if you’ve ever played any Skylanders game, iIt was a title that I lauded for doing something genuinely different, because instead of focusing on videogame mechanics, it was a game that focused on play instead. Play is what kids do, and if there’s one thing that Disney is good at, it’s marketing to kids.
Along comes Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes, the 2014 iteration of Disney’s Infinity franchise.
You get no prize at all for guessing the character set for this particular release. Not even a patented Marvel No-Prize, for that matter. Disney’s taken its ownership of almost everything Marvel, applied a toy-based coat of paint to it and dropped it into the Disney Infinity Universe. For what it’s worth, I’ve reviewed the Playstation 4 version.
I won’t hide my enthusiasm for the core material in any way, because I’m a long term and rather passionate Marvel fanboy. I’m also possibly the only person on the planet who made random squee noises when Iron Fist was announced as a playable figure, and almost certainly the only one who’s still hoping that Marvel will announce a classic Luke Cage Power Man figure to go with him.
Yeah, that’s probably hoping for too much, now isn’t it?
Like the original, Disney Infinity 2.0 is split into experiences around the creative Toy Box mode, and playsets that focus at launch around the Avengers (as a pack-in options), Spider-Man and The Guardians Of The Galaxy. The latter two, like most toy-based games, will cost you a fair amount of money to buy as add-on adventures, although all the code for those adventures is on the disc when you buy it. With the joint success of both Disney Infinity and Skylanders, that’s a DLC argument that seems somewhat lost, but at least the figures are very well sculpted. You could pay a lot more for a tiny Marvel statue than for the Disney Infinity equivalent, that’s for sure.
What’s interesting in Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes is that where the first game was very play focused, there’s a much stronger video “game” vibe this time around. That’s perhaps fitting for a game with such a strong superhero focus, but it also means that there’s a lot more combat, character levelling with individual skill trees and questing to be done.
It feels, not to put too fine a point on it, like Disney Infinity has stepped further towards the Skylanders model than away from it, although you’re still slightly better off playing Disney Infinity because as long as you’ve got at least three characters to play as, you can swap between them when one falls in combat and continue playing where Skylanders pushes you to buy yet more figures as “lives” instead.
Still, while the play sets provide a solid gaming experience, and one that takes place in worlds and settings that are much larger than in the original game, in order to allow you to fly around at high speed, they’re good without being great. Expect a lot of repetition in the combat, puzzles and tasks that you’re given while playing through them, and a few difficulty spikes around the boss battles.
The flipside of the play sets is the toy box mode, which retains its strong whimsical charm, alongside some geniunely improved controls. I touched on those in an interview with victorian educator Dan Donahoo recently, but the key matter here is that you’ve got a much richer experience if you want it, or a way to simply set up a bunch of items to run amok with.
Again, no prizes for guessing which way my offspring are currently treating Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes, but they’re learning, and there’s a lot to learn. It’s also at least a little easier to work towards unlocking new toys, with less of the random and frustrating jumble of the previous game. The blind buy play discs are still very much a factor, however, which is a little disheartening as a parent, because Disney knows full well that the odds of only having to buy a few disc packs is astronomically small. Given that again, they’re unlocking content that’s already in the game, it also still feels a little greedy.
Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes is a very nicely realised sequel to Disney Infinity, and one that’s got plenty of charm for fans of both Marvel and Disney alike. There are more Disney-specific figures incoming, and the existing figures if you’ve got them work in Toybox mode with the new sets and with the new skill tree setup, which is a nice bonus along the way.
Getting everything with Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes won’t be a cheap affair, the same as the original, but it’s a game that you could get a lot of play time out of for that financial outlay, especially if you can get the kids (or, like me, the big kids) to create their own games along the way with it.