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Disney Infinity wonderful Toybox lets you exercise your imagination 2013

Disney Infinity wonderful Toybox lets you exercise your imagination 2013
Disney Infinity is the tale of two games. One of those games is the Toybox, a gleefully entertaining shared space where you and a friend or three can mess around with your playthings, creating hedge mazes, playing football in turret-protected forts, and launching yourselves into the stratosphere with a series of air cannons. The other game is the sloppy mess that you must endure to get the most out of the Toybox, filled with glitches, shocking oversights, and fundamental design errors. The Disney Infinity experience is a tour through the highs and lows of video game design.

It's also a window into the wonders of modern game marketing. Disney Infinity isn't just a game, but a platform as well--in this case, a platform designed to keep you spending money. Like Skylanders, Infinity is as much about collecting toy figures as it is about playing a game. Your initial purchase includes three figurines, one each from the Disney worlds that make up the game's campaigns, called playsets. To enjoy a playset, or indeed any of Infinity's features, you need a plastic bauble that contains the worlds you wish to explore and a figurine to match, both of which you set on a tray you plug into your console. The three figures and playsets you initially receive get you started, but you soon learn that enjoying most of Infinity's content means forking over cash for new figures, new discs that grant your figures special powers, and other such trinkets.

Disney clearly knows both the emotional value of a quality action figure and the magnetic lure of collecting them, especially when the characters they represent have entered the pop culture lexicon. The figures are solidly constructed and remarkably detailed, and priced around 14 dollars at the time of this review. Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean films sports a mean claw, fearsome face-tentacles, and slanted eyes that mean business. Monsters University's Sulley is every bit the big galoomp you'd expect, posed in mid-stride with a sly grin spread across his face. It's a delight to look upon these figures, and because placing a figure on the stand associates it with your own game, Disney Infinity instills in these toys a strong sense of ownership, in-game and out.

After Infinity's initial introduction, it dumps you and your figure of choice into the Toybox with little sense of direction aside from some tooltips and tutorial voice-overs. It takes a bit of poking and prodding to find your way around the menus, and you'll probably want to explore one of the playsets first, which is the easiest way to unlock new toys to mess with. The Monsters University, Incredibles, and Pirates of the Caribbean worlds are represented--and sadly, they suffer in different ways, bogged down by botched details that are in some cases specific to a playset, and in other cases follow you through the entire game. Also bear in mind that while you can use any character you want in the Toybox, you can only explore a playset with a character from that world. So no, you cannot tour Monsters University with a cheeky Jack Sparrow, as fun as it sounds.
Perhaps the voice-over wouldn't be so annoying if the waypoints meant to lead you to the next mission giver would properly appear, but in Disney Infinity, things don't always work the way they are supposed to. That's even true in the Pirates of the Caribbean playset, which is easily the most refined of the three. Here, your time is split between land, where you slice up baddies with your sword, and sea, where you fire your ship's cannons at the pesky pirates that pester you. Sea battles are a blast, and there are a diverse number of activities--platforming, bomb-tossing, boat-rowing--to keep you satisfied.

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