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A year after the showcasing of Disney Infinity at E3 in Los
Angeles, the parent company returned with a much
stronger identity for the franchise. Disney Infinity 2.0 was an improvement in
every sense of the word. The original Disney Infinity debuted in stores just
before Black Friday 2013. It got the drop on the competition, most notably
Activision's Skylander series.
Yet Infinity was not without its faults on launch. Players
reported random freezes, crashes and other glitches on the Disney online
forums. It got to the point that Disney had to create a FAQ of known bugs so that
audiences could focus on finding new issues. Console owners, those playing on the
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo platforms had to wait for patches to be downloaded
from Disney Interactive in order to help with the problems.
Over most of the holiday season in 2013 Disney worked
nonstop on improving their core game engine. As the game became far more stable
it also became far more enjoyable an experience.
With several years under their belt, and several hundred
million dollars in production costs accounted for, Disney Interactive now had a
strong sense of direction. If the original launch had a major flaw it was that
Disney was too eager to introduce audiences to the world of Infinity. The game
suffered because the developers had been spread thin creating content to meet
the holiday push.
Having the Monsters U, The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean,
Cars and Lone Ranger Playsets and Toy Box expansions before the end of the year
took away the potential of each experience. The games were all good but none
were exceptional. They felt lacking. If Disney had cut down on franchises and
focused less on Playsets then there was no doubt Infinity would have been
Photo by Shelly Valladolid
At the 2014 E3 it was obvious that Disney had learned from
the launch of their platform game. The company focused its efforts on a small
group of Marvel heroes for the announcement of Disney Infinity 2.0. The
Avengers from the film series, including Captain America,
the Black Widow, Nick Fury, Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk were some of the new
playable characters and collectable figures. The gameplay is a bit more
challenging than before. Rather than mashing the attack button and going
through opponents with ease the player now has to use some strategy.
Opponents are more difficult to fight and some are more
susceptible to certain attacks. It helps that Infinity 2.0 allows players to
earn points and trade them in for new attacks and combination moves. Players
have to be more mindful of their health gauge and pick and choose their
opponents more carefully than in any other Playset.
With this said, the game is still tremendously fun. Disney
Interactive managed to create a better Captain America,
Hulk and Iron Man game than Sega did when they had the licenses. Best of all
the three characters are all available to play as in one solid game rather than
in three mediocre games.
The true star of this Marvel expansion would have to be Spider-Man
and his rogues gallery. The stars of the Disney XD animated Spider-Man series,
including Nova and Iron Fist, are all available to help Spider-Man complete his
missions against Venom, Dr. Octopus, the Green Goblin and a plethora of other
villains. Disney Interactive also managed to create a Spider-Man game that was
on par with the best releases from Activision.
In some instances it was even easier to get into than the
last few Spider-Man games. The web-slinging mechanics were very intuitive.
Players could shoot webbing at opponents in short bursts, stick to walls and even
swing up and over buildings. Audiences did not have to worry about finding the
right building to latch onto, instead players could simply shoot their web in
the air and Spidey would take a running leap and leave the ground very quickly.
Players would undoubtedly find themselves swinging through the city and ignore
the missions just to enjoy the experience.
The Toybox has been improved upon as well. This would be the
portion of the game that allows audiences to create their own environment. It
is also more intuitive than the previous release and has the ability of
allowing players to drop pre-made sections, puzzles and opponents into their
own play space.
The showing at the E3 was not solely about Marvel. Further
Toy Box expansions will include Merida
from Brave and Maleficent. The figures and character models all retain the
charm of the earlier Disney releases. The people responsible for the art
direction are very consistent and help keep the theme of the game very
lighthearted. The violence is never too visceral and audiences are constantly
reminded that these are toys after all and no actual heroes or villains are
hurt in the game.
I got the sense that Disney Infinity 2.0 is really beginning
to distinguish itself from Skylanders and moreover finally has enough meat on
the bone to give the Lego series of games some serious competition. The game is
scheduled to be released in September. Expect to see Jim Hill Media give it a
thorough review when it comes out.