Release Date: August 30, 2015Platforms: XBO (reviewed), PS4, X360, PS3, Wii U, PCDeveloper: Avalanche SoftwarePublisher: Disney InteractiveGenre: Toys-to-life
I’d never quite been convinced to spend much time with Disney Infinity, the popular toys-to-life experience that features Disney and Marvel characters, until Star Wars was brought into the fold. Immediately, not only was I excited for a new Star Wars console game, I was excited about the potential crossover possibilities. Could I team up the Star Wars gang with the Guardians of the Galaxy? What would that adventure look like? How would the two teams interact? Disney Infinity is built for those kinds of possibilities, as long as you bring imagination with you.
Disney Infinity 3.0 lovingly adds Star Wars to the mix for the people who miss playing Star Wars games on consoles and those with a flair for fan fiction. Here is where you can continue the stories of Han, Luke, Leia, Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan however you see fit in the Toybox mode, where you can build custom challenges for your characters or have them face off in a battle arena much like Super Smash Bros. or have them race in a Mario Kart inspired frenzy. You can also create custom levels and upload them for other players to try and vice-versa. The game, above everything else, is a celebration among fans, and a very welcomed respite from hardcore gaming, not quite casual (because the game is challenging) but unlikely troll territory. This will ultimately be what sets it apart from Star Wars Battlefront‘s more hectic gameplay and competitive edge. Disney Infinity 3.0 is just a lot of fun.
I think a lot of what holds people (including myself for a long time) back from trying out Disney Infinity is the fact that it’s often marketed as an entry-level game for children, which, from playing everything the Twilight of the Republic story pack, certainly rings true in the finished product, as you’re treated to a pretty light story with a lot of gags woven into the colorful tapestry. But there are some portions of the game that absolutely stand up with the best that Star Wars games ever had to offer, specifically the dueling and space combat.
While players looking for complicated lightsaber combos and sophisticated flight controls will not find that here, the dueling and space combat are still very satisfying. I played through Twilight of the Republic, one of three Star Wars story packs coming to Disney Infinity 3.0, as Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker, the base characters in the pack, although you can unlock the Rebels characters in story mode as well as other favorites, such as Darth Vader and Boba Fett. I discovered that, while most combat has to do with you pressing only the “Y” button, attacks and movements vary between characters. In some instances, especially those featuring a horde of bad guys, I found it easier to maneuver around their attacks with the very acrobatic Ahsoka, who flips and twirls around with a press of the “B” button. Anakin, I found particularly helpful, during boss battles, especially the climactic Darth Maul duel, which demands a more offensive approach.
I can’t stress enough: the Darth Maul fight is fantastic, the most satisfying boss battle featuring everyone’s favorite Prequel character ever brought to a console. His attacks are devastating, hard-hitting swipes of the blade aimed at finishing you off in a couple of strokes. He’s also very acrobatic, as he jumps high in the air to avoid your attacks and lands on top of you with a powerful Force-focused lightsaber smash.
The duel is quite long, playing over several sections of the final level, with plenty of henchmen thrown in for quick “breathers.” Really, it’s late in the game that Twilight of the Republic pits you against the biggest and welcomed challenges, and you’ll feel it almost immediately. But, again, this is a Disney game, so there are a couple of gags thrown in between that are quite funny, a surprising feat once you realize who’s delivering the laughs. You might even hate yourself a little for laughing.
The space combat mostly plays out in free-roam interlude sections between planets—Tatooine, Naboo, Coruscant, and Geonosis are featured in this story pack. These sections are often the most entertaining in the game, with chaotic dogfights with Viper droids to boot. Objectives in space vary from protecting a Republic cruiser to saving a frigate from a debris field. There isn’t too much more to do beyond that, but the combat will definitely keep you flying for a while. There’s a great section above Geonosis where you have to zoom above a couple of Trade Federation ships and eliminate all enemy fighters. You’ll have command of a Jedi starfighter or the ARC-170, the grandfather of the X-Wing, which is my preferred fighter.
My two big gripes with the game are the repetitive side missions and confusing vehicle controls. It seemed to me that I could never quite learn how to fly or drive anything in the game, as the controls seemed to vary by vessel. The problem lies with the twin-stick system, which for some vehicles controls the movement and camera, while for others, left stick is moving/aiming and right stick is for automatic barrel rolls. You can’t quite get the hang of it in your first hour or two of gameplay. I’m not sure I get it yet. But the Toybox hub does offer tutorials on all that stuff if you need them. I’m just impatient.
While you can almost always skip side missions, which don’t stray far from fetch, destroy, messenger, and escort tasks, there are moments in the game where you have to complete a string of them, especially on Coruscant, in order to gain favor with someone and progress. These missions are a tad boring after the first few times you go through them, but some are a delight, like the one where you have to help Mas Amedda try out some theme park rides for Chancellor Palpatine’s birthday party. These light-hearted moments make many of the side missions worth it in the end, but I mostly skipped them if I had the option. There are also plenty of challenges to complete in between main missions, including plenty of racing quests.
There’s a skill tree that lends the game a bit of an RPG feel. You can level up your maximum health and your lightsaber deflect, but not much else beyond that. And for the most part, I found the upgraded skills inconsequential. I died several times with my leveled up Ahsoka during the final boss battle, while my less-upgraded Anakin was able to get the job done. But the skill tree is there if you want to play around with it.
I have to allow a few sentences to the wonderful design of the figures themselves. Incredibly detailed renditions of Ahsoka and Anakin, equipped with their distinctive lightsabers, are welcomed on both the game pad as well as my shelf. These figures will ultimately end up starting my toy collection. I have several other Infinity figures that I’m too afraid to pull out of their sealed boxes at this point. The fever has started. My favorite is the game’s Obi-Wan figure, which exemplifies the change of art style between The Clone Wars and Rebels eras. He looks very cool, if a little older.
All in all, Disney Infinity 3.0 is a welcomed entry into the Star Wars universe. While the story pack does end up being a bit short in game time—you can breeze through it in a few short hours—it’s ultimately about revisiting these characters for some fun challenges, a couple of laughs, and some of the best lightsaber dueling ever produced for a video game.
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