Disney Infinity has, to me at least, always felt like a great idea that never really made the most of the premise. While the series has nailed the toy side of things, releasing plenty of excellent plastic models that fans are desperate to collect, the games have been incredibly lacklustre. An excellent Toy Box mode, which allows players to create whatever they want (kind of and if you've got all the right parts) made up somewhat for titles which were at best average and at worst the kind of dross the PS2 era was flooded with when publishers wanted to cash in on movies for kids.
3.0 does a lot to right the series' previous wrongs, delivering playset campaigns that are enjoyable and fluent, and at the same time sporting improved production values. Finally, Disney Infinity is a game that can legitimately compete with the likes of Skylanders and LEGO in the children's game space.
Infinity 3.0's Starter Set comes with a single Star Wars Play Set, Twilight of the Republic, as well as Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano figures. What's here, a third-person brawler in the same vein of Devil May Cry, is clearly designed for kids, but the combat at least has some depth (blocks, rolls, shield breakers, etc) and the missions feel more connected than in previous Play Sets. Numerous planets are home to core missions collected from NPCs, and side quests can be picked up if you want to see everything on offer.
There's a surprisingly solid tech tree for your characters, with upgrade coins earned through play being traded for new abilities, moves, health and more. Anakin and Ahsoka aren't the most diverse characters, each essentially feeling like they've been built from the same template, but they do use The Force slightly differently (one pulls and the other pushes).
You can also blast off into space to experience some simplistic but fun, and at times spectacular, aerial combat. Each space zone has its own set of objectives (defend a fleet, rescue some ships from an asteroid belt, etc) to complete and you can switch between your available craft. Don't go in expecting X-Wing vs TIE Fighter and it's easy to lap up the explosions and massive Destroyers.
All of this makes for a campaign that'll last about 4 hours if you make a beeline for the end, but if you aim to complete all the side missions (some require you be playing with a friend in local co-op) and partake in some pod racing you can expect at least double that. It's a good chunk of game with the added bonus of actually being fun to play, for once - a far cry from the shambles that was the insipid virtual Manhattan from Infinity 2.0. I'd like the stories in future Infinity Play Sets to be a little more light-hearted, with a tone similar to the LEGO games, but at least what's here is cohesive and brings together numerous recognisable characters.
For many Disney Infinity fans the Toy Box is where most of the fun happens, with its open-world sandbox allowing you to bring together all your toys no matter what universe they're from. Newcomers may well find this mode rather daunting at first, but a new Toy Box Hub does a good job at introducing you to what's on offer, including zones for platforming, combat, and racing. The Toy Box lets you create your own Disney adventures, using items and themes you've unlocked, but if you'd rather just play you have access to every creation that's been shared by the community.
Also new to Toy Box are sidekicks, little companions that can be used to assist you on your adventures. By using them to farm crops (another new feature) you can feed them food and in turn increase their stats, making them more useful. Add to this even more features, such as the music and path creation tools, and there's a lot here for fans to get excited about and loads of newcomers to discover.
On Xbox One I encountered a few performance issues, mostly inside the Toy Box mode where the frame rate would chug a little more than I was happy with. More annoying was a fairly frequent sound bug, which resulted in all sound effects and voice overs being muted, leaving only the soundtrack. As good as the Star Wars orchestral music is, having to restart in order to fix the problem became rather annoying.
To get the most out of Disney Infinity 3.0 you'll have to spend a sizable chunk of cash, of that there is no question. Each additional Play Set costs about £30, characters near £15, Toy Box expansions £15, and then additional Power Discs can be bought too, but what's in the Starter Pack is a great introduction that will keep kids and kidults alike entertained for a long time.