Although it was a sound follow-up to the original Disney Infinity, last year’s 2.0 edition wasn’t the much-improved sequel some had been hoping for. It may have triumphed in merging two of the planet’s most influential entertainment brands, but ultimately fell short when it came to elevating Infinity’s base concepts. In other words, 2.0 felt like a simple reskin, and introduced just a handful of new features to freshen up the existing formula. It may not have been the most innovative sequel, yet effortlessly cemented the series’ standing within the ever-expanding toys to life genre.
Quite naturally, going into 3.0, our fear was that Disney Interactive would do the same again this year, albeit using an amalgam of characters and settings stripped from the Star Wars universe. Many hours later, we’re happy to report that most of these fears have been allayed. Although it does little to reinvent the game’s core template, Disney Infinity 3.0 is by far the most fun we’ve had with the series to date. Aside from inflating its bevy of creation tools, there has been a renewed focus on gameplay, with 3.0 striking a better balance between being a virtual toy box and an actual video game.
Perhaps the biggest relief is just how well the brand new Star Wars content holds up. In Disney Infinity 2.0 it was natural to think that, with the inclusion of super powers, gameplay would see some immediate improvements. Sadly that just wasn’t the case. Although outfitted with new abilities, these did little to mask the stiff combat and boring enemy attack patterns. On top of that, many of the Marvel themed missions from last year were a chore, spread across otherwise barren cityscapes.
Although Disney Infinity 3.0 allows for the occasional bit of free roaming, each of its hub worlds are much smaller and more compact. When playing through The Twilight of the Republic playset, you’ll visit worlds such as Genosis and Tatooine, each with its own landmarks and side missions. What’s more is that these zones are connected via intergalactic space routes, adding even more diversity to the gameplay mix.
As in previous instalments, players can tackle content in any order they wish, whether that means cracking on with the story quests or hanging around for the odd mini-game here and there. Even the side missions (which became somewhat of a low point for 2.0) are a fun way to pass time despite their repetitive, throwaway nature. All in all, you’ll probably be able to squeeze a good five to six hours of playable story content from the starter set, as you retrace the events of Star Wars’ divisive prequel trilogy.
Of course, to streamline the saga for a younger audience, Disney Interactive have taken some creative liberties. With Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano taking up most of the spotlight, many key characters are relegated to secondary or cameo status. Although Star Wars die-hards will baulk at some of the changes, one has to remember just who Disney Infinity 3.0 was made for.
Aside from bearing Infinity’s beautifully chunky aesthetic, each of the new playable characters are a joy to use in combat. One of the best things about last year’s instalment was the inclusion of experience points and skill trees, allowing players to purchase new moves and abilities. 3.0 has upped the ante, throwing in plenty of new attack types and special powers, giving each fight some much needed challenge and diversity. Although some characters play better than others (notably those with lightsabers), there’s room for each and every one as you bound from mission to mission.
Moving away from playsets and towards the Toy Box, Disney Infinity becomes far more liberating, if also sloppier and more disjointed. Once again, Disney Interactive has created a thriving hub world where players can learn the ropes. Divided into several districts, each one gives a basic rundown on features such as sidekicks, navigations, combat, world building, racing, and kitting out your Toy Box INterior. Although 3.0 does a grand job in guiding you through the individual gameplay aspects, there’s an overall lack of cohesion between them.
The INterior, as 2.0 players may remember, is a fully customisable abode that players can kit out with all sorts of quirky items. However, instead of being woven into the core game, it feels like its own standalone entity, forcing players to scout through menus and loading screens. The sidekick system suffers from similar drawbacks. On paper it’s a brilliant idea – spawning friendly AI minions that can help perform a series of tasks – yet one that is completely marginalised.
For those who enjoy building and sharing their creations, 3.0’s Toy Box will have you hooked for hours. Straight off the bat, players are given access to a huge array of tools and components, allowing them to construct all sorts of mind-bending masterpieces. Although not endless, the possibilities are what make the Toy Box so exciting. That said, there are a few notable roadblocks that will undoubtedly hamper some player’s enjoyment.
First off, the creation tools can be a real bother to get your head around, made worse by unintuitive menus and finicky camera controls. Learning how to effectively arrange 3.0’s building blocks into something that’s playable can take a lot of time, as a consequence, so if you’re serious about creating a level that will get snapped up by the Infinity community we’re talking hours and hours. Still, the complexity of tools at least means that – somewhere down the line – players will be able to dive into some truly awesome user-generated levels.
Disney Infinity 3.0 steers the series back on track after last year’s small spanner in the works. It’s a fun and enjoyable game that never outstays its welcome while also striving to innovate within the existing framework. To say 3.0 is without its own shortcoming would be a lie, however. Disney Interactive and its patchwork of studios have yet to forge something that feels truly cohesive and consistent throughout. As it stands, 3.0 has a bit of combat over here, then some platforming, then a bit of racing over there. It can feel a bit uneven at times, but hopefully this heralds a bright future for the series.
Version tested: PlayStation 4