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Review

Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes (Wii U) Review

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We‚Äôve been spoiled in recent years with a bevvy a well-made super hero video games. Developers such as Traveller’s Tales have given us excellent DC and Marvel LEGO experiences, injecting equal parts humor and comic book lore into expansive open-worlds brimming with possibility.

Pairing the hugely popular ‚ÄúToys To Life‚ÄĚ category with the Marvel universe feels like a license to print money, and that‚Äôs exactly what Disney are banking on with the release of Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes.

Developer Avalanche Studios has thankfully taken the mantra ‚Äúwith great power comes great responsibility‚ÄĚ as clear instruction. In their first team-up since the acquisition of the Marvel license, Avalanche Studios has delivered Disney a worthy sequel, to what has been to date, the most innovative approach in Toys To Life games.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† screen4_large
The starter set for Disney Infinity 2.0 focuses on Marvel’s moneymaker; The Avengers. Containing three playable figures; Ironman, Thor and Black Widow, the starter set includes a play set piece for The Avengers, power discs to provide characters with buffs, and two Toy Box discs offering new games, tower defense and a dungeon crawler. It’s a great amount of content, but only a third of the variety in play sets contained within Disney Infinity 1’s starter pack.

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While the first iteration of Disney Infinity placed utmost important on how players could customize the environments within their play sets, Disney Infinity 2.0 is all about the customizing your heroes. By offering a singular play set, Disney Infinity 2.0 increases its focus on fluid combat and exploratory platforming and flying, but in doing so, forgoes some of the magic and variety offered by its predecessor. Punching, shooting and flying makes sense in an open-world built on the Marvel universe, and developer Avalanche Studios clearly understand and love their subject matter.

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A key component of Toys to Life games are the physical figures, and Disney Infinity 2.0 has not pulled any punches with their sculpts. These figures are a cut above Disney Infinity 1 and Skylanders toys, with dynamic poses, superb paint jobs and sleek bases which serve to identify the allegiance of each figure. At launch, two additional sets are available for purchase, along with additional figures; these being an Ultimate Spiderman play set and a Guardians of the Galaxy play set. Unfortunately, both these play sets feature more compelling game play experiences than those found in The Avengers play set. It is understandable Disney preferred to include Thor and Ironman in the starter set to appease younger fans, and to support interest in Marvel flagship The Avengers. If you enjoy Disney Infinity 2.0, I would strongly suggest picking up at least one if not both of these additional sets.

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The bugbear of licensed properties, a complaint against Disney Infinity 1 has been figures cannot me mixed and matched across different play sets. Fortunately, play sets in Disney Infinity 2.0 hail from a common Marvel universe, as such two additional figures can be used in a play set once ten ‚Äėcross-over coins‚Äô have been collected within the environment. While this provides incentive to buy and play as new characters, such as Hulk who is compatible across The Avengers and Spiderman play sets, with the countless crossovers in Marvel comics, surely we could have had the opportunity to play as the majority of figures across each play set?

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Play set design forgoes the whimsy of Disney Infinity 1’s missions (sadly the variety of half pipes and paintball from Monsters University are nowhere to be seen) in favour of brawling with enemies, escort missions, and fetch quests. All are handled with aplomb and are in sync with the subject matter. You can tell the developers are close to the source material and love their super hero games. At various moments, I was reminded of 90’s brawlers such as Maximum Carnage and Capcom’s The Punisher, while Hulk’s bounding leaps and crushing blows feel very similar to Sierra’s wonderful 2005 open-world smash-em-up The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

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Customization of your super hero is where Disney Infinity 2.0 shines, and all figures now have upgradable skills, purchased using the in-game collectable currency of sparks. Upgradable skills for Marvel figures (and presumably Disney figures upon their release) include rudimentary attack, defense and jumping upgrades, but also fantastical abilities specific to each character. As characters approach their level cap, choices must be made about the direction of their upgrade path, meaning no two figures are the same. In addition to this, several Marvel characters also have associated power discs that transform their costume; a must for fans. The awesome power of a fully upgraded Ironman with his Stark Reactor power disc equipped, zooming about New York is an absolute pleasure to play and witness.

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Inevitably, play sets offer a handful of hours of content, and the longevity of play within Disney Infinity 2.0 is Toy Box. Essentially a blank slate with a clever interface and accessible building tools, Avalanche Studios has made significant effort to ensure Toy Box is more accessible than Disney Infinity 1.  The new hand-held but open-world introduction to Toy Box introduces elements of design with the support of friendly Disney characters, and explains the new INterior Toy Boxes (customizable doll houses which can be used to link other Toy Boxes for easy transition). As with all Toys to Life games, Disney Infinity 1 components are forward compatible with Disney Infinity 2.0’s Toy Box. Placing a play set piece from Disney Infinity 1 onto 2.0’s portal results in all content associated with that play set being unlocked for use in Toy Box.

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The best inclusion are new builder toys who, when placed into a Toy Box, will procedurally build anything from tree houses, castles, rail parks and race tracks.  Seeing them go to work around you is magical, and helps bring the world to life. Everything about the revamped Toy Box is designed to make the experience more accessible for users to create, share and find content as a community.

Toy Box creation played a significant role in the popularity of Disney Infinity 1, and Disney Infinity 2.0 is looking to further support its vibrant and creative audience. It is still extraordinarily deep and a little frightening, but Toy Box is what sets Disney Infinity apart from Skylanders; hopeful ambition and a little bit of magic.

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What Disney has planned for Disney Infinity 2.0 and Marvel beyond the starter set, two play sets and a handful Disney figures remains to be seen. While it may have felt like a gamble to opt for a Marvel-only start for their sequel, Disney has backed the right horse. It’s what the little kids what, it’s what the big kids want, and it’s a clear point of difference in what promises to be a fierce competition over the current and next console generation.

Now, let’s all buy our figures and hope for an X-Men: Age of Apocalypse or Star Wars: Battle of Endor play set sometime soon.

Rating: 4/5

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About The Author
Paul Houlihan
Paul ‚ÄúHoops‚ÄĚ Houlihan is a retro game collector, an ex-gaming PR person of five years and host of video game podcast The Fourth Player. He thinks you should really play The World Ends With You.
3 Comments
  • Gutsman
    September 24, 2014 at 2:23 am

    How does the game perform in comparison to the first? Is the touch screen selection for the toy box still laggy? Off screen play? Surely this sort of thing should be covered in the review.

  • September 24, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    The frame rate drops often in toy box, primarily because this is a game designed for systems with more power than the Wii U. Sadly, that’s a given and a reality for most third party software. As this is part and parcel of the games released on the Wii U platform, it’s not something I chose to focus upon. The off-TV on-GamePad experience is excellent, and the user interface for selecting items and their placement when using the GamePad in Toybox is improved over Disney Infinity 1.

  • James B.
    October 13, 2014 at 7:52 am

    I have been wondering do they now allow dual screen using the gamepad and t.v. in local co-op rather than only split screen?

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