Toys and videogames - the two have been entertaining the young and young at heart for years and years. It’s only in recent times that they have come together in an extraordinary way. The Disney Infinity series isn’t the first game to use physical figures to bring characters to life, but it’s arguably the most ambitious.

The first installment of the nostalgia-inducing sandbox adventure has spawned dozens of figures, thousands of fans and millions upon millions of dollars. This time around we’re dealing with a whole new branch of the Disney tree - Marvel. I managed to get my hands on all 16 new Infinity figures as well their three new playsets. So instead of just covering the Marvel Heroes starter set I’m going to cover the whole first wave. How does a world of superheroes and supervillains stack up against the original world of heroes and villains? POW! WAM! ZIF! It’s time to find out.

Ridiculous Possibilities

There’s something just the slightest bit surreal about Spider-Man riding an elephant and throwing dynamite at Buzz Lightyear while he jetpacks off Pride Rock. And by surreal I mean stupidly enjoyable. It appears any two characters, new or old, can play in the Toy Box mode together. ANY OF THEM. You can finally live out your childhood dreams of watching Thor and Sorcerer Mickey throw down on top of Cinderella’s castle while Agrabah’s palace guards swarm you from all sides. There is so much to do, so much to create and so many ridiculous possibilities in Infinity 2.0 that it’s hard not to smile at even the thought of them. How about the Hulk with purple laser kittens for hands? Because that’s a thing now.

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Backwards Compatibility

Infinity 2.0 is compatible with almost every aspect of the original title, with one big exception. Playsets from Infinity 1.o will not work with the newest iteration. Though that’s basically all that the game was aside from the Toy Box, so it’s hard to blame the folks at Disney Interactive for wanting to get players involved in the newest worlds. Every figure and power disc from the first few waves of the first Infinity is playable though and that’s a big deal. Not only that, but every single character has been retooled to feature new abilities based around the games new “skill tree” aspacet. It’s a welcome inclusion and makes me feel less guilty about buying all those 1.0 figures.

Super Hero Combat

The first go round of Disney Infinity featured a lot of less-than-versatile fighters. We’re talking about Disney here. The happiest place on earth doesn’t churn out too many combat heavy franchises, aside from maybe The Incredibles. Mike Wazowski isn’t a talented brawler. Jack Skellington isn’t the god of lightning. The inclusion of characters who actually come from fighting backgrounds is a vast improvement over the likes of Disney’s classic cutesy galavanting.

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Flying

Once you play as a flying character you’ll never want to go back to the ground. It’s undeniably satisfying to rocket through the sky as Iron Man, Thor or Nova as you jet to your next mission. Other characters can’t help but feel mediocre and sluggish in comparison, especially those who have yet to be upgraded. Only Spider-Man and Venom’s web slinging can compare. Though it is fun to watch the Hulk ride a motorcycle...

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Skill Trees

Levels don’t mean much if they aren’t helping your character in some way. I never really saw the appeal in the first Infinity title (leveling up gave you chances to unlock more Toy Box items) so I never went out of my way to grind my favorite characters to their full potential. Things have changed, and for the better. Now every character has a multi-path skill tree that adds to their attacks and overall abilities as they progress. Many characters felt slow and feeble at the beginning of the game, but I soon found that they could be upgraded to speedy, high flying dynamos. Maxed out heroes are an absolute blast to run around town with and you’ll wonder how you ever survived without your patented super move.

Radar

If there was one thing that I felt was missing from Disney Infinity 1.0 (aside from a Nightmare Before Christmas playset) it was radar. Oh how often I would find myself lost in these ginormous sandbox worlds with no clue where to find the next objective, baddies on the run, or my co-op partner. The radar may seem like a small addition, but I’m telling you it makes the game much more accessible on a lot of different levels. Never have I been so happy to see that little black circle.

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Toy Box and Toy Box Games

The Toy Box is a place where player can make their own worlds with any of the various tools the Infinity team has included. You can place buildings, NPCs and other objects throughout in any way you like. It’s always enjoyable to create your own little universe and invite your online and real world friends to come and play in it. Infinity 2.0 offers even more in the form of creative control this time around with pre-constructed bases, a text creator, more “Creativi-Toys”, interior decorating, a challenge maker and the ability to create your very own Toy Box Games.

Toy Box Games are new hexagonal discs that give players a mini world to play in with set goals and themes like dungeon crawling and tower defense. The starter set comes with two and there are more in the works. This is nice go between for characters who aren’t prominent enough to warrant an entire playset, but could still use a level of their own. Not only that, but (as I mentioned above) you can now create and share your own Toy Box Games for others to try out. The Infinity staff and fans are no slouches, so you can look forward to a slew of new Toy Box Games to play through in the future. Best of all, you don’t have to have specific characters to play them. All are welcome.

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Marvel Lore

With some of the most bizarre and well rounded characters in the world of comics, it’s hard to hate the Marvel influences found in Infinity 2.0. All your classic favorites are here (aside from the X-Men for some reason) along with some welcome new faces. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t know there was a russian cosmonaut dog named Cosmo in the Marvel universe, but I love that he was included. There’s a nice mix of obscure and popular comic figures thrown into the mix.

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Story and Missions

While the Marvel universe is well represented I couldn’t help but yawn at some of the tired plot points the game was trying to play up. Infinity 2.0 is at its best when it’s letting you run rampant all over New York or Knowhere in search of unlockables, baddies and new missions. The younger audience will enjoy the often goofy cut scenes and one liners, but the real fun comes in the various missions strewn throughout the city.

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Visuals

It’s hard to tell if Infinity 2.0 has sub-par graphics or if they’re simply playing up the “toy” angle of the series. Characters, environments and everything in between looks a little boxey. My copy of Infinity was on the Wii U and the visuals fluctuated from smooth and detailed to what can only be referred to as GameCube-esque. It can certainly be off putting at times, but it’s nothing that’s going to make or break the game. Surprisingly it seems the Wii U version runs at the lowest native resolution of all versions, including last gen offerings like PS3 and Xbox 360.

Controls and Camera

While your average super hero tends to have the reflexes of cat (especially White Tiger), I found that the heroes in Infinity 2.0 were a bit clumsy. It’s hard not to run into the occasional wall or attack the innocent air when you meant to put the smack down on a rampaging enemy. Controls can range from fun and fluid to clunky and frustrating, so it’s hard to put this one in either the Excellent or Terrible section. It takes some time to get accustomed to different characters abilities, but once you have them down it’s a gas to leap around town and grapple with opponents. Seeing as there are 16 characters to pick from (should you buy them all), you’ll certainly have your work cut out for you.

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The camera is just a finicky enigma. Sometimes it seems to stick in one spot or swing in the wrong direction, which can certainly be frustrating when enemies are on your tail. Most times it functions just as it should, but I’ve enough bouts of “old man yells at TV” to give you a warning.

Cooperative Play

I’m always on the look out for games that feature stellar cooperative play for my wife to take part in. She’s a big fan of games like Super Mario 3D World and the LEGO Harry Potter series, so she jumped at the chance to assist me in the original Infinity outing. Cooperative play is a good time and while it does cause the game’s frame rate to drop here and there I found that it was always more fun with a friend (or spouse). It’s especially fun when you take turns building a world in the Toy Box and then run amuck across your creation. Luckily, unlike the last Infinity title, you can play couch co-op right out of the starter set box! There is one big issue with co-op, but I’ll talk about that below.

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Cost

It’s no secret that the Infinity series is one hell of a cash cow. With the starter pack retailing for $75, playsets going for $30 and individual figures selling for an average of $13 a pop you’re looking at quite the Disney money pit. As always, cost is a very subjective factor when it comes to games like these. Are the figures each worth $13? In my mind some are and some aren’t, but it’s not a terrible price point. Buying your son/daughter/wife/self a new character will mostly bring a few hours of exploring and unlocking, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a whole new game. While the figures don’t have an dexterity in the action department in the real world they are still fun little statues for the young (or young at heart) to play with or display.

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Do you like looking at super hero stills and reading game tips? I hope you do, because when this games loads, it LOADS, baby. Chances are you’ll be looking at a loading screen for well over a minute. Which doesn’t sound long, but I assure you it feels long. There were times where I actually fell asleep waiting.

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Friendly Fire

As stated above, Infinity 2.0’s co-op is a worthwhile venture with a friend or family member. There is one part that really stands out as being overly frustrating though - friendly fire. The game, much like its predecessor, has characters lock on to any and all targets nearby for their attacks. This includes your allies. As my wife and I traversed the streets of New York or the space station Knowhere we found ourselves locked in a constant battle against ourselves. It’s incredibly maddening to go into an attack only to be redirected to your partner. You can only tell your wife you’re sorry for accidentally Hulk smashing her so many times before she gets fed up and quits. Why characters even need to be able to hit each other in the normal adventure mode is puzzling and it continues to make co-op combat a chore.

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While a game like Infinity may seem like a simple cash grab it’s actually a very enjoyable game as a whole. Is it going to set you back quite a bit of cash? It certainly could. Disney Infinity 2.0 is far from a perfect gaming, but it’s more fun than frustrating. If you’re into building worlds and creating your own games it’s a must have. If you’re in it for the story or the deep gameplay you may come away disappointed. Unless you’re six. Regardless of some occasionally choppy graphics and awkward controls I was still excited to see what the game threw at me next. Another worthwhile romp in the Disney sandbox.

If you or a loved one has any interest in the game you should definitely consider picking up the starter set, which features three Avengers, their playset, a portal and some Toy Box Game discs. Aside from this initial purchase I would highly recommend the Spider-Man set, as it features lots of heroes brimming with personality and spectacular skills. Well, maybe not Nick Fury. Be on the look out for my personal ranking of all 16 new Infinity figures on launch day and start saving that hard earned cash. You’re gonna need it.

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For a second opinion on the newest Disney Infinity installment head on over to Mike Fahey’s official Kotaku review.

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