By Charly SHELTON
Imagine being Aladdin, running through the streets of Agrabah. Or the Lone Ranger, hunting down bad guys in Neverland. Or Merida, riding through the futuristic city of Sanfrosokyo in search of the alien guys from Pizza Planet. How would you like to be The Mighty Thor, come to vanquish that most evil menace, Stitch, for what he and Jack Sparrow did to your room?
“Disney Infinity” can provide all of this.
The figurine-to-digital toy craze has hit its mark with games like “Disney Infinity” and “Skylanders.” When a toy is purchased, it can be placed on the game pad connected to the console and played in the video game. That’s where this started.
When some “Minecraft”-style world-building was brought into the mix and produced with Disney’s properties and standards of quality, it was evident that “Disney Infinity” was the best.
I am still waiting for the report to be released on how much money Disney made with this awesome sequel game. The first incarnation, “Disney Infinity,” grossed over $500 million so it was safe to assume that there would be a sequel.
Rumors started circulating on the internet about the second one. There was an ongoing thought that the second edition would be Marvel-themed and the third would be Star Wars-themed. One year after the launch of the original, “Disney Infinity 2.0″ was released to much anticipation and many pre-orders, and it is Marvel- themed.
For the first time, Disney is capitalizing on the Marvel brand as part of the larger Disney family as opposed to its own separate entity. Sure, there are some character meet-and-greets in the park, and occasionally you will see a T-shirt with Iron Mickey or Deadpooh, but the universes haven’t really collided the way they have now. In a two player game, you can be Spider-Man teaming up with Elsa from “Frozen” to take on the Omnidroids from “The Incredibles” and Frost Giants of Jotunheim, enemies of Thor, on top of the Matterhorn in a world that you built using Gamma World ground and Texas skies. How awesome does that sound? And to make it even cooler, if you collect all the characters from 1.0, you unlock a new weapon – Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. For those who have never seen Perry the Platypus wield a lightsaber, you are incomplete as a person.
The gameplay on 2.0 is much improved over the first iteration. Control layouts are simplified, leveling up is easier to achieve without being a giveaway, and the best part is that the power discs from 1.0 – little add on discs that give your character power ups or greater chance of receiving XP– actually work in this version.
I always play with the Tron User Control disc, which is listed as giving a 20% higher chance of sparks (XP). In the first game it very rarely was any use. In 100 enemies defeated, the disk would get maybe one or two extra spark drops. In 2.0, it’s almost every 10 enemies. I took the disc off to get a baseline reading. It’s about every 50-75 enemies. The disc really does make a difference now.
‘In addition to that disc, the new 2.0 line of discs gives your character extra powers or friends to call upon. For example, if I’m overwhelmed by enemies, I can call Winter Soldier to come help me take some of them out. It’s really a great add on to have for tough situations.
‘The Play Sets, little clear figures that become game worlds to play through just like a traditional video game, are fun. I have almost finished the Avengers play set at the time of this writing and it is great. Loki (bad guy from Thor) and M.O.D.O.K. (bad guy from Avengers comics) have frozen New York with a weather machine in an effort to build a new Casket of Ancient Winters freezing weapon and lock Earth in a permanent freeze. Playing as one of the Avengers, you need to take out the machines and find out what Loki is planning in order to stop him.
‘The really cool part about this is that its an Avengers game, not just a Thor-or-Iron-Man-or-whoever-you-choose-to-play-with-mainly game. My main character is Thor, I level him up high and customize his powers, new to 2.0. But when Thor is overcome by enemies and is knocked out, he cannot go on. One of the other Avengers needs to step in to take over and continue the mission. In this way, you can level up more of your characters quickly because you use multiple characters as lives in a mission. Iron Man is my secondary character and Hawkeye is the third. This is a really great idea and it warrants spending $15 each on extra character (the Starter Set comes with Thor, Iron Man and Black Widow) for multiple lives. The more characters you have, the more lives. Never fear though, if you don’t want to buy extra characters or if you just want to use the one you’re using and not switch, there is an option to go back to the last checkpoint. Whereas before you could use one character for literally the entire play set (I don’t think I used Jessie the Cowgirl once in the Toy Story set, just Buzz) because he would die and respawn exactly where he fell, now you can have a roster of Avengers each with decent custom abilities and XP.
The only thing I will say about the game where it is lacking would be the “hot swapping” issue. It takes 20-45 seconds every time you switch characters while playing the game. The machine registers a change and the lights start to swirl around your character, signifying the transformation, but then it just loops for 35 seconds or so, not really doing anything in the game and locking you up so you cannot continue. It’s not a big issue, but the first game was so good at loading quickly and “hot swapping” characters during play took 5-10 seconds of transition time from one character to the new one, just enough time for the swirling lights to look really cool as a single effect and make the change without bogging you down too long. Other than this loading issue, the game is great.
It is pricey, I will say that. At $75 for the Starter Set, you get the Toy Box (free-design building worlds where you can build your own level using premade structure pieces and then play that level using any character), The Avengers Play Set, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, a game pad to place the characters on that connects to your console, two Toy Box games and the Disney Infinity 2.0 game disc. That’s all you need to get set up. Then you can purchase additional Play Sets at $40 each (Spider-Man Play Set with Spidey and Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy Play Set with Star Lord and Gamora), additional characters at $15 each (Groot, Rocket, Drax, Hawkeye, Captain America, Hulk, Nick Fury, Iron Fist, and Venom. Yondu, Falcon, Green Goblin, Loki and Ronan the Accuser will be available later this year), and additional blind packs of Power Discs at $6 each. Whew. And that’s just the Marvel side. Then, for the Toy Box, there are the Disney Originals characters (Maleficent, Merida, Stitch, Tinker Bell, Aladdin, Jasmine, Donald Duck, Hiro Hamada, Baymax and two other unconfirmed characters) which will be out later this year. That’s a lot to take in, but it is a really cool game and spread out over a year long period until 3.0 is sure to be released, the cost becomes manageable. Because spending $60 on one game that you can play for a month is great, but that’s it. Then you need another $60 game after that. If you pay the $75 once, you get a game that will keep you occupied for a while (Avengers), then each game after that is $40 for new Play Sets. And then, the Toy Box provides limitless hours of awesome fun, with new maps and levels available for download for free every week in addition to whatever your own mind can conceive and build. And unlike Minecraft, there are no Creepers to come destroy what you have just spent hours building. Once it’s there, it’s there.
I love this game. I loved the first one and still played it up until this one came out. Now I will love this one and get the third one next year. It’s a big expenditure to get it all set up, but totally worth it. I give this game 5 out of 5 stars.