Quick Critique: Disney Infinity 2
 
Continuing from the point I left the Disney Infinity 1 review off on: the pricing on this stuff is weird! It is now cheaper to buy the Vita bundle that has the DI2 game, Spider-Man playset, Bluetooth base, some extra game tokens, and Spider-Man figure than it would be to just buy the Spider-Man figure/playset alone. The downside is that it's the Symbiote Spider-Man, but at a savings of about $80 if you were to buy all that separately, I can live with a different colored character (although the character won't register properly on the Infinity website and can't be used in their mobile apps).

Infinity 2 makes some decent additions to the combat. It seems to flow better, spamming one attack isn't quite as effective, you have to block and dodge now, and you can upgrade your character as you level up and unlock bonuses or moves on a skill tree. The Spider-Man level even start off pretty well with a great use of Mysterio. When you face Mysterio, he hassles you with a bunch of fake walls and floors and illusions, which is exactly how Mysterio should "fight". No Spider-Man game has really done Mysterio well (although the Spider-Man 2 game did have a funny version of the fight), so it's funny to see them get it better than stand-alone Spider-Man games. It all kind of falls apart after that though. I KNOW it's not really a Spider-Man game, but the controls are just wrong. You have to hold the jump button to swing, let go of the button, and hold it again to throw out another line. It isn't smooth or fun at all. I know they couldn't use the proper Spider-Man controls and give just this one character a unique control scheme compared to the other Infinity figures, but without fun web controls, Spider-Man isn't that special. Even the arc on his swinging is annoying. After jumping into the air and starting a swing, the arc is so low that you'll still hit the ground and start running instead of swinging. The playset very much feels like a game made by a toy manufacturer rather than actual game designers. The game actively makes it difficult to find missions. There is no full map and things only show up on your mini-map if you're close to them. I wanted to do all the missions and I think I have, but as I was swinging around, another one popped up, so there could be others hidden away somewhere. The challenges also act like that. You have to be close by to them to have them display and video game New York isn't a friendly thing to lay out in a grid pattern and make sure you've found all of them and the boundaries of where the city stops aren't clearly defined since you can still landmarks and buildings well into areas you can't visit. You see that big Avengers Tower a few blocks away, well too bad, you can't visit it! Why can't I just open up a menu and select the missions if it's that much of a hassle? You can unlock the ability to have collectibles show up on your map, but it also shows collectibles you can't even collect. And even worse, it doesn't tell you WHY you can't collect them. I imagine it's because they're tied to specific figures and you'd have to pay to get them, but that's purely a guess. You get to the spot marked on your mini-map and there's a faint glowing outline of a collectible but you walk right through it. The story missions have some really terrible vehicle segments too. And not even like a fun terrible Spider-Mobile bit, it's a flying car and a motorcycle. The camera is bad, they control poorly, and if you bump into ANYTHING, the camera spins wildly and you lose control. Other levels have escort missions and even worse, escort vehicle missions. The final boss is an on-rails vehicle turret sequence! Because there's nothing people like more about Spider-Man than his ability to drive a flying motorcycle that has a gun on it. It's really the thing everybody loves about him and his most known powers.

The Vita bundle comes with some extra Toy Box missions but they're a diversion at best. The Assault on Asgard game is a tower defense mode and I like tower defense games, but this just isn't fun. It's slow and has a clunky set up, the framerate is terrible (causing you to move through items or enemies and the game to not register button presses), and your own turrets can stagger you and prevent you from attacking or moving. Most of the way through one mission, instead of targeting an enemy, my character bounced off the floor and landed in "lava", dying instantly and failing the mission even though I and the target were at max health. That's when I quit this mode. The Escape from the Kyln levels are more of a straight action mode but you just kind of go from point A to point B, solve a "puzzle" like stepping on all the switches, and then leave. It takes a long time to load each stage and then when you're in the level, it takes another few minutes to "build" the level, so you just sit around waiting for a door to open.

It's pretty safe to assume the Vita version is a bad port, so you're taking some "okay" game bits and making them worse. It crashed and lost all my progress in a mission. I completed another multi-step mission, but after beating the boss, the end prompt never appeared, so I had to quit the mission, lose all my progress, and start over from the first step. The sound is muffled. If a character's voice is playing or the narrator is explaining a collectible you found and you trigger a story scene, the voices in the cutscene won't play, even after the non-story speech is done. The game is really ugly and almost everything is super blurry. It looks the way animated scenes on a Sega CD game looked with their massive compression. The camera is not equipped to follow Spider-Man moving, jumping, wall-crawling, or swinging, and can only be turned so much, so you rely on it trying to "guess" where you want it to look. Getting Spider-Man to swing is finicky since sometimes he'd rather just plummet to the ground instead of swinging and when you are swinging, you go from start-up to full speed almost right away and that causes the camera to shift. You either instantly cling to a wall if you so much as look at one or Spidey will refuse to grab onto it and fall to the ground. The controls are unresponsive so button mashing is your best bet but due to the framerate and unresponsiveness, your button presses are frequently ignored. Cap all that off with slow, sluggish menus that take too long to load and it's a game you'll want to play in very short bursts. Despite being a Vita game, it's also most definitely not portable. You have to always be connected to a Bluetooth base that's a bit finicky and will disconnect even though you're sitting right next to it and you have to always have the playset and figure on the base while you play. It would have been a lot nicer if you just had to connect once, scan the figure and playset, and then it saved that one figure and set for 24 hours or such. That way, you actually could play it portably since you could leave the base and figures at home and they could still ensure you bought the figure and didn't just scan somebody else's since you'd have to rescan them every day or after you quit the game.

I still think the concept of Disney Infinity is really keen and if you're a parent, it can be an amazing tool to teach your kids game design and creativity, but the Vita version is just bad. Because the pricing on all the Infinity stuff is so wonky, it might still be worth buying for you. If you don't want the Avengers set, it's actually still cheaper to buy the Vita version ($25) and buy a digital version of the console game ($15) than it is to just buy the Spider-Man playset ($40) and then the game on top of it. I'd probably recommend that route. Sure it was nice to get all that stuff for $25, but I probably would have enjoyed my time more on the console version.