Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (AKA Infinity 2.0) proclaims its legacy and sales pitch right there in the title, and it’s a good thing too. After last year’s middling debut, the evergreen and ever-expanding company needed to step up with this latest iteration if it was to be a serious challenger for best toy/game combo of them all. This is especially true given Nintendo is entering the fray later this year with its Amiibo products.
The stars of Infinity 2.0 are the Avengers, and expansion sets available out of the gate include scenarios based around Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as one focussed on the exploits of everyone’s favourite web slinger, Spider-Man.
Placing one of your real-world Disney Infinity toys on the included ‘Infinity Base’ makes that character appear in the game, and you then have full control over their arsenal of moves. Infinity features an action-RPG style levelling system through which players can choose how each and every one of their plastic pals develop, and any progression is stored in the toy itself for easy transportation between games and consoles, which is neat.
You can play with your various characters in either the Story Mode or Toy Box mode, the latter of which is a combination of user-made and developer-made content where imagination is king. Unlike Skylanders, however, you can’t just drop any old character into a story level and continue on with your progress.
Here, only the figures that come with that story can be played by default, and you can then unlock a select few other characters for play by finding collectables in the game map. All toys work in Toy Box mode, however.
The core gameplay in Story Mode is the 3D action-adventure type, where players are given quests to complete, but the variety of the quests is – to be kind – rather limited. They range from ‘kill these dudes’ to ‘escort that dude’ to ‘rescue these other dudes’, and you’ll see each over and over.
The Spider-Man pack has the most variety and innovation, but even then it’s a comparative measure; this is not a game for people who are looking for something new when it comes to mechanical interaction.
Toy Box is packed full of content, much of which you’ll unlock by playing through the story levels. If you don’t straight-up find something to play with in Toy Box, you can use currency accumulated in Story Mode to buy things like wall textures and enemies. This system potentially gives you access to themed items from Playsets you haven’t even bought, which is a nice feature.
You can then assemble these pieces, LittleBigPlanet style, into levels with gameplay styles of your choosing, linking objects together and programming simple logic systems so it all behaves the way you choose.
Back in the game's campaign, there are problems. Flying allows Iron Man, Thor, or Nova to soar over many of the game’s story challenges, handily bypassing clever-looking traps or even hordes of enemies. The most damning part is that doing so is far less painful than actually playing the game the way it was intended.
This is partly due to some miserable controls – particularly those of vehicles – but the overall level of polish is much lower than expected across the board. Bugs are numerous and frequent, from simple visual glitches, to the wrong character appearing when you switch them, to the Infinity Base simply ceasing to function.
So while it is true that the intended audience for this game skews young, to suggest that Disney Infinity 2.0 is good enough for them is to insult them. Kids appreciate quality too, and they’re not going to find much here.
What is good is the visual treatment of the characters. You can tell some love has gone into their core look and the way each moves. There’s a vast number of things to do too, with even the minigames provided by Power Disc add-ons in each Playset lending the title hours more gameplay time.
Given the weakness of the core of that gameplay, however, whether you’ll want to bury yourself in it for any serious time is another matter. There’s also the expense: the base game is about NZ$130, expansion Playsets NZ$50, and random Power Discs are another NZ$8 or so for a pair.
So while there is a plethora of content available, Infinity 2.0 seems happy to repeat the ‘It’s got a license, that’s good enough’ mantra that has plagued crossover titles since E.T. on the Atari 2600. The game is a disappointment on most fronts, and squanders the great opportunities its titular superheroes present.