I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS…
Disney Infinity 3.0 surprised me when it released earlier this year, exceeding all of my expectations. The Twilight of the Republic Play Set was a genuinely great game based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, while Rise Against the Empire provided a CliffNotes (yet authentic) take on the original trilogy. So how does their official adaptation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens fare? Fear not, no spoilers!
If you’re not familiar with other toys-to-life games, I’ll give you a rundown. The console versions of Disney Infinity 3.0 require the purchase of a starter pack, including the game itself, a USB power base, a clear Play Set piece used to unlock story mode content, and two figures. The Play Set features the great Twilight of the Republic mentioned above, with the two figures being Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. Insert the game, place the Play Set as well as one figure on the base and BOOM, you’re transported to a galaxy far, far away where adventure awaits.
The Force Awakens is an additional Play Set sold separately, and includes fresh-faced protagonists Rey and Finn. As this is being considered the official video game for the latest Star Wars movie, this story will hit most (but not all) of the major plot points from the film.
Beginning on the planet Jakku, you’ll need to use Rey or Finn to scavenge for parts to essentially buy their way offworld. The shantytown where Rey lives and works is open from the beginning, leaving you free to explore its every crevice and even hop into a vehicle if you so desire. Townspeople may call you over for a quick chat or, as is most common, offer you scavenged parts for completing tasks.
These sidequests are nothing special, and mainly serve to prolong the game. Many of them will have you fetching a runaway droid for various reasons, defeating a small cluster of enemies or simply pushing an oversized button. At several points throughout this brief journey, you’ll be told that you cannot progress unless you complete a list of such tasks for nameless characters.
That wouldn’t be so irksome if not for the small square footage of the planets you’re allowed to explore. Immediately upon entering a new area you will have already seen all there is to see, and this is true of all three planets. Twilight of the Republic and Rise Against the Empire both had larger sandboxes to wander in, while The Force Awakens is a more linear experience. This is particularly disappointing.
What ISN’T disappointing is the core combat of Disney Infinity 3.0, which was revamped over past entries in the series. Although every character starts at level one with no skills, their RPG-like skill trees can be filled out as enemies and quests are tackled. This unlocks more complex melee combos and finisher moves, giving other modern Action/Hack n’ Slash games like Devil May Cry a run for their money. Rey is particularly suited for this combat, while Finn can be geared more towards run n’ gun Third-Person Shooter gameplay depending on the skills you unlock for him. Both are equally fun, meaning kids likely won’t fight over who uses which character.
Since space conflict is such a central part of the Star Wars universe, you can bet your Bantha’s poodoo that you’ll get some quality time in the cockpit of an iconic ship. Plenty of on-rails starship combat segments appear at key points to add more variety to gameplay, and these sequences (though a little restrictive) are thrilling and chock-full of explosive set pieces. The Millennium Falcon, Resistance X-Wing and First Order TIE Fighter are all pilotable at different times, giving you a nice burst of excitement. There are also free-roam battles where you can engage in dogfights without being guided down one long passage, and I just wish these moments were longer.
Back on the ground, one nice surprise was the addition of the holo-game table, giving you a nice breadth of levels to play inside of a top-down arcade-style game. Taking control of a Rebel X-Wing, you blast your way through near-endless waves of Empirical TIE Fighters, TIE Interceptors and even Star Destroyers, reliving battles from the reign of Emperor Palpatine. This is a nice distraction, and very reminiscent of old twin-stick shooters with plenty of powerups dropped onto the battlefield. New levels can be unlocked by collecting coins hidden throughout the main quest.
As was also the case in past Star Wars Play Sets, 100 Mynocks are lurking in the shadows to be hunted, and Champion Coins lie scattered across all three planets. These coins allow you to use any other Disney Infinity Star Wars character in The Force Awakens playset, so if you wanted to pit Boba Fett against Kylo Ren’s forces, you can!
Unfortunately all of the mini-games and collectibles can’t mask the length of this experience. This Play Set lasted me a mere four hours, in contrast to the six hour sweet spot the other Play Sets hit. This was only for the first playthrough, and there were more sidequests and Mynocks left to be found, but I was already trying to take it slow. I was addicted to those holo-games for a while there, man!
Sadly, the story is pretty light on content too. Disney Infinity 3.0 glosses over all of the most interesting parts of the movie’s story, and there was so much there that could’ve been done! Kylo Ren only utters a couple of sentences here, despite taking up a notable amount of screentime in the movie. Han Solo’s role is also diminished, while Leia Organa is only glimpsed as a hologram. Perhaps the developer wanted to avoid spoilers, but the Play Set was held back until the day of the movie’s release anyway. It just feels like a wasted opportunity to capture the emotional story in an interactive medium like video games, and I hope they remain more accurate to future films.
In terms of graphics, Disney Infinity 3.0 is a pretty game in general, and that is no less true for The Force Awakens. The vaguely Pixar-esque art style is quite pleasing to the eye, and the environments can be surprisingly beautiful at times. Cutscenes take a noticeable dip in quality as character models are shown in extreme close-ups, but on the whole there isn’t a lot to complain about here.
As for the soundtrack, I’m about as attuned to music as the average donkey is to the world around them. With that said, I didn’t notice a whole lot of music that matched what I heard in the latest Star Wars film. What I DID hear were tracks used in past movies, most notably during the final boss fight. I’ve since heard that the movie’s soundtrack wasn’t finished until after this Play Set was finalized, which would be an understandable situation if true.
THE VERDICT: 6.6 OUT OF 10
Disney Infinity is made for kid’s first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean the experience must be watered down. While not a bad game, at $30 for a four hour first playthrough, the value is slightly questionable. Luckily the holo-games are fun on their own, and hunting for Mynocks will keep completionists busy for a little while longer. There weren’t a whole lot of sidequests left to clean up, but this game does have the benefit of being part of the fantastic Disney Infinity 3.0 platform, meaning your characters have so much more to do outside of this one story. You also unlock content here for the meaty Toy Box mode, where you can create your own worlds. Plus you get physical figurines (at least with the console versions) which is a nice advantage over traditional Downloadable Content releases.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Chris Cobb is an Associate Writer for MONG and longs for the days when lightsabers were handed out like candy-colored limb loppers. When he isn’t running around in a bathrobe or pew-pewing around town, you can probably find him in a dumpster he painted to resemble the Millennium Falcon. Oh, you can also contact this maniac on Twitter… but why would you?