E3 2015: Toying Around With Star Wars in Disney Infinity 3.0
It's a new year, and that means it's also time for a new iteration of the Disney Infinity series. Over the past two years, Disney Interactive has been fine-tuning its NFC figure gaming franchise, improving on the previous version in small but welcome ways. There have been some larger changes to the overall as well, but none more visible than the addition of new characters and figures to the ever-expanding roster of Disney properties. With Disney Infinity 3.0, not only are we going to be getting a load of new toys and Play Sets based on the beloved Star Wars license, we're also getting new Toy Box modes that offer more ways to play with the characters you've already collected.
While there will be Mickey, Minnie and other familiar Disney characters available as figures with Disney Infinity 3.0, the main attractions this time around are the Star Wars Play Sets and toys. It makes sense given that 2015 is the year Star Wars returns to theaters, and as such, there's no better time to revisit the classic trilogy and recent animated series to draw kids and their parents into the lucrative world of Disney Infinity. That is, if they hadn't already taken the plunge with the first series heavily rooted in Pixar, or the sequel, mostly based on Marvel's properties. Either way, this is the only way to enjoy playing as Boba Fett.
We played through a bit of the Battle of Hoth in the Rise Against the Empire Play Set, but instead of stepping into the shoes of Luke Skywalker or Leia Organa, we used the recently revealed Boba Fett. There was little doubt such a fan-favorite character would be left out of the mix with Disney Infinity 3.0, but there have been plenty of characters left out of the series so far that until Boba Fett was physically right in front of us, we didn't know for sure that he'd make the cut. It felt a bit surreal to be wandering the frozen battlefield of Echo Base with the bounty hunter, blasting away at Snowtroopers and attacking AT-ATs, but that's the magic of Disney Infinity; anyone can be the hero.
After shooting the armor off an AT-AT and then climbing its legs to dismantle the battery packs (you didn't think it would be 100% movie accurate, did you?), we were whisked away to a new encounter behind the wheel (flight stick?) of a snowspeeder. This was the iconic moment we'd remembered from the films, and throwing a tow cable around the legs of the mammoth war machine was just as fun as it was years ago when we first saw it, and when we first played it in Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back on SNES.
With victory assured, we jumped over to the Toy Box to test out the new races featured in Disney Infinity 3.0. If you can imagine Mario Kart through some of the more memorable Disney universes, such as Nightmare Before Christmas and Wreck It Ralph, you've got an idea of what you're in for with Toy Box races. There are weapon pick-ups scattered throughout, you can drift for better cornering (and to fill your boost meter), and there are a variety of vehicles available to race with... provided you have the requisite Power Disc. If you haven't been actively collecting the special discs for Infinity, you might find your personal car roster a little lacking. That won't stop the AI opponents from having some custom rides. It also doesn't affect the speed or power of a vehicle either, so you won't be at any disadvantage beyond cosmetics.
It's a bit fun to race around with Han Solo, Quorra, Iron Man and Elsa, but the races lack the balance and competitive fun similar full racing games already present. In addition to the controls being a bit floaty and imprecise, which is unfortunately still a hallmark of the Infinity vehicles, the Toy Box races are merely enjoyable instead of outright fun. They're a passable distraction in a game that allows you the freedom to build and do whatever you can dream of, provided you've got the time and know-how on how to get the most out of the Toy Box tools.
There are other improvements coming to Disney Infinity 3.0 as well, including updated animations and skill trees for characters from all the way back in the first Disney Infinity, but we didn't really get to test any of that out at E3. What we did play was fun, and offered us a new way to experience the iconic moments from one of the most celebrated film franchises of all time. For many players, that will likely be enough, but we hope that when the final game arrives, it's a bit meatier than its predecessors.
Disney Infinity 3.0 will be available later this year on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and PC platforms.