Recently, I attended Disney Consumer Products’ Holiday Product Showcase, where the group previewed select pieces of merchandise that are expected to be this year’s big hits. In addition to a wealth of Frozen-related products and those involving Disney’s classic line-up of characters (e.g. Mickey, Minnie), I had the chance to get an in-depth preview of the highly anticipated follow-up to Disney Infinity. Although I first got a look at the game at its announcement a few months back, this was my first opportunity at a hands-on. Check out my thoughts after the break!
Currently titled, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, the game fittingly places a large focus on the costumed characters that have been conquering the box office in recent years. In addition to Avengers such as Iron Man, Hulk, and Black Widow, Disney also has the video game license for other characters they don’t for their films, such as Spider-Man and Venom. Think back to the first game, which included characters like Mr. Incredible, Jack Sparrow, and Mike Wazowski, and you will see that they are mostly bound to the ground (jet packs did allow for some flight). However, with the introduction of super heroes that can fly and cover a ton of ground in little time, the smaller worlds seen in Disney Infinity would be too limiting. The developers at Avalanche were ready for the challenge, as the Play Sets are exponentially larger.
In my hands-on, I had the chance to swing around Marvel’s characterization of Manhattan as Spider-Man, essentially playing as the webhead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s NYC. Unlike previous Spider-Man video games, no longer do you have to aim at specific buildings to shoot your web at in order to swing through the city. As the game’s executive producer John Vignocchi put it, that method just isn’t any fun. So you can now shoot your web and climb to larger heights quicker and with greater momentum. The controls were intuitive, while the feeling of swinging swiftly and easily providing for a refreshing experience.
Aside from the new characters, there are a number of new options available in the Play Set mode of Disney Infinity 2.0. Some power discs, sold in random packs, will unlock characters that essentially team-up with you to defeat enemies, a genius idea that honors the concept seen regularly in comics. The Winter Soldier or Iron Patriot disc, when placed on the base, adds the appropriate character to your team, making some seemingly grueling fights that less difficult. While you do not control the additional character, it allows gamers to set their preferred level of difficulty, adding to the customizable philosophy of the game series.
For Disney fans hoping to see non-super hero characters, you have not been forgotten. There will be a large collection of Disney- and Pixar-themed power discs that bring iconic designs to the Toy Box levels you dream up, but more importantly it has been confirmed that physical Disney figures (and therefore, playable characters) are on the way as well. So far, Merida and Maleficent have been announced. Merida appeared to be a great addition, with her firing off arrows with various powers in quick succession. There have been rumors of classic Disney characters, such as Donald Duck, making it into the game, but that has not been confirmed by Disney Interactive just yet.
Avalanche had a challenging path set out in front of them after the incredibly successful first iteration of the game – how would they be able to top it? Sure, adding new characters and power discs was a sure thing, but the developers clearly went beyond what many expected to see in a follow-up. Disney Infinity 2.0 is shaping up to be an ambitious addition to the franchise, and is sure to impress the millions who are anxiously anticipating the game. There is no exact release date set yet, but we do know that Disney is aiming for a fall release. There are surprises that the company has in store to reveal before then, so stay tuned as we inch closer to the release date.