Disney Infinity 3.0
Android, 360, iOS, PC, PS3 PS4, Xbox One, Wii U
Don’t judge Disney Infinity 3.0 by its opening. While excitable narration wonders at the boundless imagination that will follow, you hammer a button to kill droids as Anakin Skywalker, before becoming Inside Out’s Joy to do some light platforming. It all paints a picture of a very bounded imagination indeed, hemmed in by promises it won’t keep; you don’t, for instance, get any Inside Out content unless you buy its Play Set separately. Better not to judge Infinity 3.0 by the Play Set that does come with the new Starter Pack, either. Twilight Of The Republic is a brief medley of sequences from Star Wars Episodes I and II that’s light on depth, and features Jar Jar Binks.
A better measure of the Infinity platform is the incredible wealth and flexibility of its Toy Box. This open sandbox has grown into a set of assets and tools that support a staggering breadth of play, from simply spawning mobs of enemies and then killing them all to building intricate games of your very own, supported with scoreboards and stories and anything else you can think up. That you can do it all alone or with others, in splitscreen or online, is the soul behind it all.
So it’s a shame the Star Wars element lacks much gameplay identity of its own, despite looking good and covering plenty of ground. There’s a duel with General Grievous, pod racing, Star Fox- style space dogfighting, and Tatooine and Coruscant to explore. The story patches these out-of-sequence scenes together as best it can, aware that while you’re probably playing with the Starter Pack’s characters, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, you could equally be playing as Yoda, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Chewie or any of the other Star Wars figures. The result is a breezy rush of the greatest hits of things you’ve played before, particularly in Lego Star Wars.
Combat is much improved on previous Infinity outings, however. Anakin and Ahsoka enjoy reasonably rich movesets, courtesy of Ninja Theory – My First Devil May Cry, if you like. Holding attack invokes a block-breaking launcher, and once you’ve delved into the skill trees, Anakin can juggle the enemy for longer with carefully timed inputs, while Ahsoka can add a flurry of extra attacks to the dash move that she and her master share. Varied enemy types provide reason to tap into the reaches of your chosen character’s skillset. Grunts may bear shields ready to be pulled from their grasp with the Force, tanks can deal area damage, and some foes specialise in counters. Anakin and Ahsoka can also traverse the levels with ease, using Force jump and their dash to leap over great gaps and buildings.
Twilight Of The Republic doesn’t give them an awful lot to do as they bounce across its hub planets, though. Geonosis and Naboo are enclosed, while Coruscant and Tatooine offer more open exploration by both air- and landspeeder, even if your actions are padded with fetch quests. Still, by the adventure’s end you’ll have a well-levelled character ready for the rest of the game, which makes the starter Play Set look tiny.
The series’ Toy Box was always rather daunting, so new in Infinity 3.0 is the Toy Box Hub, an effort to better introduce its complexities. There is a certain irony in Avalanche adding another mode and menu entry in a series already plagued by them, but it’s perhaps a necessary evil, since there is so much to learn.
The Hub is divided into themed sectors radiating out from its centre. There’s one devoted to racing, and one to combat; some characters offer short tutorials, while others give access to options also found in the menus. There’s a sector devoted to sidekicks, which were introduced in 2.0 and aid in combat. They can now be equipped with gear and fed food that boosts their attributes. You get food by having the sidekick establish a farm, though you’ll need to destroy weeds and Sparkreleasing plants to free space for tomatoes and corn. The Hub is confusing, then, and you can’t place objects in it, so much of what it teaches you can’t immediately put into practice. But, busy with action and things of interest, and expanding with attractions as you do more in it, it’s a fine introduction to Infinity’s real value, and a great source of lasting entertainment in itself, especially when played with others.
Many tutorials involve playing a prebuilt Toy Box level – the same tools and assets to which you have access. Assets are bought with Sparks, though if you played the original game or 2.0 on the same Disney account, yours will be unlocked for you. What’s here is largely the same set as available in 2.0, but the sheer range is still bewildering, despite being grouped into categories such as terrain, buildings, decorations, toys and game maker. The latter objects are the core of it all, offering the chance to take fine control of game logic.
The placement tools are much the same, too, which is to say it’s easy to lay things down and get playing immediately, but fiddly once layouts get complicated. And the tutorials only go so far in explaining the creation side, which is extraordinarily deep. Game templates help a lot, offering ready-built sets of assets assembled into a huge selection of gametypes, such as team battles or pinball, waiting to be edited at will. The system is immensely flexible. It didn’t take long to build Rocket League, for instance, though our version mostly served as an illustration of the importance of ball physics and car handling to that game’s success.
Infinity 3.0 offers a rich playground, but whether it’s worth upgrading to comes down to how much you value the coming Play Sets. Otherwise this is a set of incremental improvements, most notably in the combat and the Toy Box Hub. Infinity 3.0 is the best of the series yet, and has incredible potential, it’s just that it’s up to you what you’ll make of it.