Disney Infinity 2.0: Play Without Limits (also known as Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes) seems to have struck gold this year, bringing together its lucrative “toys-to-life” Infinity franchise (that merges physical figures with a virtual game-world) and the ever popular Marvel Universe.
Be our guest
The game demo can be downloaded for free. This lets you play the opening moment of the Avengers, Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy campaigns, but without the USB "Infinity Base" and some figures you will soon reach the end of this taster. However, with the “Infinity base” (which interfaces with the toys to take them into the world), play sets (which unlock levels), and the appropriate figures you can play these stages in full thanks to the wonders of near field communication (NFC) enabling data to move between toys and base.
Parents be warned; the toys are great, and with each play set compatible with at least four different characters, they could quickly eat your way through your child’s pocket money and into your wallet.
If you buy the starter set (which comes with the base), you’ll get the Avengers play set and three compatible Avenger figures – Black Widow, Thor, and Iron Man (as a general rule only characters from a matching franchise can be used - though there are exceptions). From there you are thrown into the Avengers campaign.
All the play sets follow a similar formula. A linear level - punctuated by cut scenes – which establishes the story, followed by open-world missions that focus on a lot on collecting items and the game's simple, but satisfying brawling combat.
In the case of the Avengers this equates to about half an hour of running through the Stark Tower, beating up Ice Giants and avoiding lasers as you hunt down Thor’s dastardly brother Loki. This is then followed by about five hours of running around a city completing tasks for famous Marvel characters such as Nick Fury.
Unfortunately, if you are only playing the demo you will get to play two missions as Iron Man before the demo ends – just enough to induce addiction and tears in your average seven-year-old.
Sometimes the ups outnumber the downs
Disney Infinity: 2.0 is good fun, managing to introduce the characters and the third-person action concepts swiftly. This is especially important as each hero (or villain) controls differently. Black Widow relies almost exclusively on guns and using dodges to avoid combat. Other fighters are more lumbering and thus choose to block rather than dodge and some can even fly to soar above danger.
Once you have the base and physical characters, you will find yourself fascinated as your kids by the act of switching characters on the fly and seeing them appear in the world - especially as the toys retain save information about their level and experience progression. Of course the downside to this is that usually you need all the toys all the time, however, on PC there is the option to jump to the pause menu and swap any registered characters from there - less fun, but more convenient.
The other main game mode is Toy Box, a mode that allows you to build your own levels to play in. With a robust box of parts to create your world the only real limit here is your imagination… and the parts you have unlocked. This is because, yet again, you must purchase plastic to expand your tool set. On the plus side, once you have the parts you want, the game provides a full range of aids to allow children of all ages to play and experiment.
The seaweed is always greener
Filled with bold colors, Disney Infinity 2.0 should look like a bright kids cartoon. However, there is something quite muddy about the visuals outside of the main characters. Despite the block colors and hard shading, it all feels a little grey and brown as you sprint around the world.
The heroes themselves look good, recreating well their stylistic chunky toys, but this only further highlights the world’s lackluster feel. With just a little more color saturation perhaps this would be fine, but with the default tone I was unimpressed.
The music manages to straddle the line between dramatic and generic with ease, letting you walk away knowing you heard something in keeping with the action, but somehow uncertain as to what. Similarly the voice work manages to be jovial and entertaining, apart from the character catchphrases that will either delight or infuriate as they constantly repeat.
Ain’t no passing phase
As a free taster to the main game, the PC demo of Disney Infinity 2.0 is an absolute must. Even without the toys, the limited features will offer several hours of fun. However, if you fear the inevitable onslaught of demands for toys from your little ones (and the subsequent costs), maybe think long and hard about the true cost of this download before you install it.