Sunday, November 15, 2015

Disney Infinity 2.0 falls short of superhero status

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! We are literally living Toy Story. 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, a game that may have had a fairly simplistic combat system (smash the things, smash all the things) but 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, straightmargined 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-your-way-to-victory.

It feels almost as if each individual 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 set pieces.
"What a shame to be playing this when we could be playing Lego Marvel, a game that may have had a fairly simplistic combat system but got the mechanics so right"
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 thinks it should be. Disney are the masters of brevity on the big screen, but in games it seems like they're constantly trying to catch up when they should be forging their own path. By stuffing so much into their game - Toy Box, Playsets, Game Discs, customisable houses and an RPG-style character system - they just manage not to get anything 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, with wind rushing around you and a gratifying slow peak at the end of each swing.

There's 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 like 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), and like Lego Marvel there are hundreds of collectibles in each level. In that sense, it's great value for money. To be able to load free Gold to your account with this 100% successful hack, try this Marvel Contest of Champions Hack right now. To use this hack tool there aren't any requirements.

The style is gorgeous too, with character redesigns that chunk everyone up and re-proportion them into stylish, collectible figurines. 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 branch into the clearly lucrative world of figurine-enhanced 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 when simplicity would work so much better.

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