With a release date now revealed, the countdown can begin to when everyone can play Disney Infinity 3.0, featuring characters from Star Wars, Inside Out, and more new Disney originals and Marvel heroes.
Of course, if you're me, you already have.
Okay, bragging aside, thanks to Disney Interactive, I got an in-depth preview of the upcoming third edition of Disney Infinity, the toys-to-life game that let's players use characters from Disney's most popular brands and properties in a virtual toy box. The new edition of the game doesn't just add Lucasfilm's top roster to the character list, it changes the way that characters move, fight, and interact with the game worlds around them – and with each other.
For the first part of the demo, I got to play in the two Star Wars play sets that have thus far been officially revealed, "Twilight of the Republic," which takes place in the Clone Wars era, and "Rise Against the Empire," which takes place during the Original Trilogy. In these, as well as the teased but as-yet unannounced The Force Awakens play set, you can play as any of the Star Wars characters available in the game, once you find their unlock token. Yes, that means you can have Luke fighting alongside Anakin in a battle against the Separatist droid army (or presumably, eventually, against the First Order storm troopers!). What's more notable than the era-blending action is the action itself, however.
When Ninja Theory was announced as coming in to help completely revamp the combat in the game, it may have been met with some skepticism. How much can you really change combat that's controlled by a special move, an attack, a jump, and a dodge? As it turns out, you can change it quite a bit. When you have, as of the current announced characters, eight Jedi, the temptation (and maybe expectation) is that they'd all have a stock set of moves shared across the bunch. Luckily for gamers, this is not the case. Now, this game is made for all ages, and that means that yes, you can just pick up a controller, generally button mash (as a kid may be wont to do). However, if you approach the game with a bit more nuance, you'll find that every Jedi plays with a unique style. They move a little differently, they have different force moves and juggle attacks. The young Anakin Skywalker is brash and aggressive. He moves a little faster and hits a little harder. Luke's strikes are slightly uncertain and lack the finesse of a trained Jedi master. Darth Vader moves with a slow deliberate march that makes him more imposing than anyone else. Ahsoka's dual lightsabers deftly cut through droids like a dancer. They all actually feel unique and it's exciting.
The non-Jedi are great, too, if not quite as distinctive. If you played with Black Widow in 2.0, you have a pretty good general idea for Leia or Han Solo. Sabine's explosive special move sets her apart, and putting Zeb and Chewbacca in together gives you a great pair of brawlers (and a fun geeky moment, as Zeb's look was the original design for Chewbacca as drawn by Ralph MacQuarrie).
The missions themselves were taken right out of the source material. In "Twilight," I fought scores of battle droids on Geonosis. In "Rise," I explored Endor a bit, playing some drums with some Ewoks, then switched over to the Hoth level. Here I took down AT-AT walkers in multiple fashions, opting at times to hop in a snow speeder and pull them down, and sometimes jumping out on foot, working first on the legs with a blaster or lightsaber, eventually opening up the battery compartments (like they're toys, get it?) for you to pop out. The remote control on the top of the walker was a blast, too, as seen in the trailers.
Moving on, I also had the opportunity to try the Inside Out playset. In this, you play in a more traditional 2-D side-scroller, with a crazy twist. You can hop between the top and bottom halves of the screen, where gravity swaps, to solve puzzles. While certain items and puzzles can only be solved by a specific emotion character, Disney Interactive opted to not force players to own all five just to complete the game. Instead, there are power-up wheels that allow you to temporarily wear a "costume" of another emotion – so if you're playing as Joy but need Fear, you can turn into him with a simple power-up, no additionally purchased toy required. It's a big deal for games like these, and a great step. Of course, you'll probably want all five if you're as big a fan of the film as I, especially Sadness. Her dodge? She flops face first on the ground and rolls out of the way. It's brilliant.
The new toy box games are a blast. In the new racing game, made by the developers of the Outrun and Sonic All-Stars Racing series Sumo Digital, you can cart race through a variety of stages themed to different popular Disney properties. Yes, it's like you have "Disney's Mario Kart" built into the game. The second toy box game builds on the dungeon crawlers introduced in 2.0 Edition, this time letting you use characters from every property – Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and other Disney Originals, teamed together to take on a variety of villains as you traverse through various worlds themed to Disney properties, all led by The Incredibles' Syndrome. I ironically played that as Darth Vader, whose explosive Force burst and incredibly cool lightsaber throw come in handy when you're fighting through wave upon wave of enemies. Here I also tried out Quorra from Tron, Mulan, Olaf from Frozen, and a couple more of the Rebels characters. The quality remains high across the board, from the sculpts of the individual figures to their in game models and movements, all of which feel like they come right out of their respective properties, as gamers have come to expect from the series.
Overall, Disney Infinity fans have a lot to look forward to with the third edition of the game. The addition of Star Wars will certainly bring in a whole new group of gamers. With more hardcore gamers coming into the fold, Disney Interactive looks to be taking steps to appease them, while still keeping the game accessible to fans of all stripes. It's an incredible balancing act, and if my nearly two hours with the game was any indication, Disney Interactive is pulling it off perfectly.
Disney Infinity 3.0 hits U.S. shelves August 30, 2015 for all major console platforms, PC, and mobile devices.