The Disney Infinity games have always been filled with promise. From the first release in 2013, the premise has been appetizing for Disney fans: combine characters from properties ranging from The Incredibles to Pirates of the Caribbean, and throw them together in a virtual toy box where you can essentially build whatever you like. Add in some real life collectible toys that can be scanned into the game, just like with Skylanders, and you have a recipe for success.
Unfortunately, across its first two releases, the Infinity series has left much to be desired — it can be needlessly complicated, and the actual game elements aren't always that fun. But the latest game in the series improves on the formula quite a bit. And the best changes stem from the inclusion of Star Wars characters and worlds. Here are the most important new additions and tweaks.
The play sets are actually fun
Disney Infinity games are essentially divided into two main sections: the creative toy box, where you can build your own game using all kinds of tools and toys, and play sets, story-driven campaigns based on a specific Disney property. In the past, the play sets have been almost uniformly boring, with dull missions and uninspired level design. To make matters worse, you were forced to play through the play sets to unlock toys for the toy box.
Disney Infinity 3.0 ships with a new Star Wars-themed play set called "Twilight of the Republic," and it’s a huge improvement. It’s set during the Clone Wars period, and it’s almost like a short, kid-friendly open-world game. You’ll be cutting down waves of battle droids with a lightsaber, piloting ships around Star Destroyers, and visiting everywhere from Tatooine to Coruscant. While you don’t have complete freedom like in, say, Grand Theft Auto, you’re still able to explore the planets quite a bit; I spent a bunch of time just scaling buildings in Coruscant, so I could really enjoy the view. It’s much more like a fleshed-out video game than past play sets, and the game is full of iconic locations like the Sarlacc pit. Really the only problem I had was the short length — I finished it in around four hours. You still have to play it to unlock toy box content, but at least it's fun.
More play sets are on the way, including "Rise Against the Empire," which introduces characters from the original trilogy later this month. Unfortunately, it’ll cost you $34.99 for the new campaign and two figures.
Combat is so much better
The Infinity series is developed by Disney-owned Avalanche Software, but for version 3.0 the studio enlisted some help from other developers. Among them is Ninja Theory, the studio behind action games like Enslaved and DmC: Devil May Cry. The combat has benefited greatly. Playing as any of the Star Wars characters, whether it’s Yoda or Ahsoka, feels really good; the lightsaber combat in particular is great, but there are also some cool force moves to play with.
The combat still works just fine for younger players, since you can mash the attack button and still be relatively successful, but there’s also a combo system with depth if you feel like digging in — you can even unlock new abilities for each character using a simplified skill tree system. It makes lightsaber combat fun without getting too complex, and it leads to some really enjoyable boss fights against Darth Maul and General Grievous.
The improvements are especially noticeable if you go back and play as some of the older characters. After completing the campaign, I spent some time in the toy box playing as Venom from version 2.0, and it felt clunky and limited. The Star Wars characters move better and have more abilities, and it’s not just the force-wielding Jedi either — Clone Wars star Sabine Wren and her dual blasters are just as entertaining as the lightsaber wielders.
There are a lot of cool vehicles
Vehicles have always been a big part of the Infinity games; my favorite toy box activity is building elaborate race tracks. But Mr. Incredible’s car just isn’t on the same level as the Millennium Falcon. Infinity 3.0 introduces a wide range of Star Wars vehicles to pilot, including spaceships and land vehicles. The "Twilight of the Republic" play set does an excellent job of introducing them.
There’s a lot of space combat.
You’ll do some podracing.
And a chase sequence lets you experience the joys of Coruscant traffic.
Outside of the play set, you can buy all kinds of ships and vehicles to mess around with in the toy box, whether it’s the Millennium Falcon or Slave 1. I, meanwhile, used the game as a way to see whether Anakin’s podracer could outrun a Tron lightcycle. (The answer is yes, yes it can.)
It looks amazing
One of the best things about the Infinity games is the art style: this is a world where characters like Mickey Mouse and Jack Sparrow look at home alongside each other. This remained true with the introduction of Marvel characters in the second game, and the new Star Wars characters look equally comfortable in the virtual toy box. In fact, they're probably the best-designed characters to be featured in the series; they not only look great in game, but they also make for the best Infinity figures yet.
But it’s more than just the characters — the Star Wars locations you’ll be exploring have been rendered in the slightly cartoony Infinity style. It can be a bit empty at times — I was disappointed to find the Mos Eisley cantina completely deserted — but I spent more than a few minutes enjoying the view. The space battles are especially impressive — huge fights, with lots of ships, framed by a beautiful planet in the background.
You can get some revenge on Jar Jar
You can’t use a lightsaber on Jar Jar Binks, who appears in the "Twilight of the Republic" play set. Trust me, I tried. But out in the toy box, you can at least get some manner of revenge on everyone’s least favorite Star Wars character.
If you really loathed the previous games, version 3.0 probably won't change your mind. It still has problems — the camera can be annoying at times, for instance, and most of the toy box is still frustratingly locked at the outset of the game. It's also still an expensive game; the starter pack is $64.99, additional play sets are $34.99, and individual characters are $13.99. Those costs can really add up, especially over the course of three games (characters from older versions will work with Disney Infinity 3.0, but not vice versa).
But even with those issues, this is easily the best version of Disney Infinity yet. Adding Star Wars is more than just an aesthetic change, or a way to sell more toys (although I definitely want to buy more of these toys). It fundamentally improves the game, giving you more things to do and more fun ways to do them.
Disney Infinity 3.0 is available now on the Wii U, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.