March 21, 2016

Disney Infinity 3.0 Marvel Battlegrounds - Review

Disney Infinity is the game that has constantly given players adventures they might not have ever expected and with 2.0 Marvel fans got their very first taste of how Disney Infinity and Marvel would work together. When Disney Infinity 3.0 released, it was very focused on Star Wars, but we were told that Marvel content was still coming and now that it is here, is it any good.

The simple answer is yes; the long answer is a little more complex. Marvel Battlegrounds has three distinct gaming modes for players to enjoy, there is a story mode, which takes players through a linear series of battles, Versus mode, which as the name suggests is about battling against friends, or foes and finally the Challenge mode, which offers up some very specific challenges and provides special rewards. Each mode on their own are all well done, but at its core Marvel Battlegrounds is pure fan service and it shows.

The story mode is what most players are going to experience first, while the length of the story mode is short, the advantage is there is no filler on hand. Each chapter of the story tells a singular element and then moves on, while that may seem bad, it allows for new characters and locations to be presented to players, allowing players the chance to see more characters in action. The story is pretty basic, Captain America and Rocket Raccoon are responding to a call about disturbances in a train yard and Iron Man, flying in his Hulkbuster suit notices and lands to help, Groot and Hulk then bust through a train and initiate a fight, Hulk is taken elsewhere by Hulkbuster leaving Captain America and Rocket Raccoon to fight Groot, once the battle is won, it is revealed that Groot is a robot and that he is made from Vibranium, which means a trip to Wakanda is in order, home of Black Panther.

The way the story introduces the characters is really well done, no one single character just shows up for the sake of things, Ant-Man appears because they need to inspect the tech the robots are created of, Star-Lord as Nowhere is under attack from the villain behind the threat. All of the Marvel characters that are available to purchase in shops, all make an appearance in the game, with the only new addition being Maria Hill, who provides intel throughout the story. While short, it is still a fun addition to the Infinity line up and worthy of your time, for me the bulk of the fun came from the challenges that were offered.

Each challenge has a required character to complete with, if you want to unlock the reward linked to that challenge, so while you can complete each challenge with any character you want, you will need to replay them with the specified character if you want the goods. These can be character costumes for use in Versus mode or something for the toy box, which can come in handy if you want to create your own destructible levels. What can make the challenges fun is that each has two power discs assigned to them, which will appear in the battle at random times and if you collect them, you shall be able to get some power up for yourself, or deal damage to the enemies, but be warned, the same can happen for them, if they pick them up. The challenges are all based around defeating a bad guy, but sometimes, you will have to play as the bad guy, which can change the tone up a bit. Each Marvel character has their own challenge, so unlocking everything will require you to have each character in your collection. Where you won’t have to worry about that part though, is the Versus mode.

In Versus, you unlock character to play as by scanning your collection, this is a separate scan to the challenge mode, so you will need to have them handy twice. Once you have scanned them, they will be selectable on the character selection screen, should you not have all the characters, then you will be able to use time trials of selected characters, which change daily, allowing you to sample them, but there is also a third way, as you play through challenges and the main story you will earn trial tokens, which you can use to unlock a character for the length of the day’s play, granting you access to characters you don’t own, so as long as you have those tokens, you can play as all characters. In every other aspect of Disney Infinity, you need to have a character on the base in order to play as a set character, that restriction has been removed here, as long as the character has been unlocked previously, you can select them, which is how you can do four player battles.

What game type you play within Versus mode is entirely up to you, there is the standard fighting match, team battles, king of the hill and more, each mode has different rules, so you will need to understand them, if you want to win. What is consistent is each arena, most of them will be unlock as you play through the story mode, the others from the challenges, but in each case the arenas will be the same, from mode to mode, meaning that if you know where the best place is to trigger an arena action is, you are better off. You can also select up to six power discs to be used throughout the battles, if you want to, you can place them on the portal if you want to provide yourself a potential boost. When you select your characters here, some of them have alternate costumes, if you unlocked them in the challenge mode, these don’t do anything but offer a different look for the characters, basically, if the character has a power disc costume, you can unlock it here.

The combat is also different here than it is in the rest of Infinity, which will likely throw some people off at the beginning, sure while the attacks and abilities are still present, none of the levelling that you have done on your character has any impact to the fights, which gives all players equal ground, at least when they start. Each mode will earn you xp, which you can then give to any character you choose to, which means your hard work playing with a level 20 character can help any lower level one boost up. Most of the locations have an arena action, a large button that when depressed will trigger an event that can cause damage to any player caught in its effect, these can be something like turning on a rocket engine to calling in a ship to attack multiple spaces. While the spaces will appear very basic at first glance, you can actually cause a lot of destruction, changing things up, on the Lunar Base, you can destroy the ground, sending all players plummeting down to a lower level and on nowhere, you can literally remove the very safety of the ground, making a much smaller space to fight on.
Sadly, there is a pretty big issue with the arenas, there are a few spots where the characters can get stuck, where you should be able to jump up to a higher level or walk past an obstacle, results in characters getting stuck. Of course it’s not just my player character that it can happen to, there are also AI driven characters that have gotten stuck, which in story or challenge mode, did allow for some easy wins. As the arenas are the big stars of the show, these issues should not be present, they don’t distract from the fun if you don’t get stuck in them, but getting stuck does require the breaking of the object to get free. The other issue that proved to be a distraction was that Nick Fury is no longer voiced by Sam Jackson, something that was true in the 2.0 playsets, the problem I have is that the voice is not even the one used from the cartoons that are currently running, which brings in a strangeness not found elsewhere. The existing characters all have new voice work, provided by their original actors, which keeps the continuity running, the animations when a character defeats another, helps sell that. Visually the game does not look any better than the rest of Infinity, but it does get extra points for the destructibility of its environments.

Marvel Battlegrounds is a welcome addition to the Disney Infinity line up, it changes up core combat, keeping things fresh there, but it also adds in an entirely new way to play the game. While it might be very short on story based content, it does bring in all the existing Marvel characters into the game in a way that makes sense. If this game mode became available for all Disney Infinity characters, then the game could be unstoppable.

Thanks to Disney Australia for supplying the playset for review

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