One of the highlights of Disney Infinity is the play sets. In essence, they're like the expansion packs offered by the Skylanders series, but they offer up different gameplay. The Lone Ranger set, for example, was essentially a shooter while the Cars set was a racing game. Even though the underlying engine and controls were the same, the play sets changed the gameplay so dramatically that it felt like a completely different title. After some distance from the launch, Disney is furthering its commitment to the game by launching the Toy Story play set with a separate Woody figure, and the results are quite good.
Like the other play sets released thus far, this one uses characters from the movie in a new adventure instead of simply rehashing their previous adventures. Here, the home planet of the three-eyed aliens is in danger from a nearby volcano, which is spewing rocks that are attacking their settlement. The Space Rangers, played by familiar "Toy Story" characters, rush to the scene and save the day by activating a force field to block the falling debris. While the area is protected, the settlement lies in ruins, and the Rangers help rebuild while they're there.
This is really a peacekeeping mission. Emperor Zurg isn't behind the volcanic eruptions, and there are no enemy creatures, drones or otherwise, that need to be blown up. The only time you'll encounter any of them is in the combat training simulator. The bulk of your mission consists of helping the alien population with its problems and rebuilding the settlement. Considering the heavy focus on combat and adventure in previous video game entries of the Toy Story franchise, it's nice to see a more leisurely pace here.
There are three different activity types, though two make up the bulk of the adventure. The first is the reconstruction of the settlement via city planning, and those familiar with The Incredibles and Cars play sets will be familiar with this. Building in a specific area, you can construct anything from costume shops to hospitals to combat training facilities and more. Your building selection is small, and you are limited to a few buildings, but at least you can arrange them any way you want. This takes up more of your time because of the extra requirements behind it. Building spots need to be constructed, and while those sections are few, they require some platforming skill to accomplish. Aside from meeting the required amount of currency to construct the buildings, most also require you to find and destroy crates before you can buy the building. The move feels like some extra padding to extend the play set experience, but it gets a pass because the crates are quite easy to find.
The second activity is performing odd jobs for the aliens, such as decorating buildings or changing their outfits. Few want to be sent to the hospital, some want to play catch, and one alien in particular needs your help so he can go on a photography tour. While a number of these requests are one-offs, a few are repeatable, and since they're quickly accomplished and have some nice payouts, you won't mind their nagging too much.
The third thing you'll concentrate on is exploration. Though it won't happen until the back half of the game, you're asked to discover the reason for the volcano's eruption. Once this happens, you're exposed to two different colors of goo. When touched, the goo changes your size and opens up otherwise inaccessible areas of the map. You'll also come across two different jetpacks that can be used in conjunction with the goo to traverse horizontal and vertical spaces.
The whole play set is quite fun due to the variety of tasks, secrets and other activities in the world. The land is quite large, and with a good amount of space to explore, you'll have fun flying around to see all of the land fragments. There are tons of secret caves in the area that hide crystal currency, and since it all regenerates, you'll be traveling there quite often to farm for cash. There are also a bunch of alien eggs hiding around the level, and while hatching the creatures doesn't do anything significant, it's addicting to see the resulting creatures.
Above all else, the play set is fun because it does a great job of retaining the signature "Toy Story" humor. Both Wallace Shawn and John Ratzenberger reprise their roles for the game, and their-pitch perfect delivery makes some of the jokes funnier. The writing feels like it would have come from a "Toy Story" short, and the lines for your three main characters sound natural, showing that the alternate voice talent also has the chops for the job. Interestingly, this is the only play set where all quest-givers have fully voiced lines. Granted, this may be because the aliens share the same voice, but that little touch puts it a step above the other play sets as far as quality is concerned.
If you're just trying to finish the story, the main quest is quite short. Once you stop the volcano, the sense of urgency seems to disappear even though there are several quests to undertake. It's a much breezier affair by then, and that could throw off a few people. The same sense of unpleasant surprise can be applied to the Woody figure that's sold separately from the set and, like most of the other play sets, is a requirement if you want to unlock every section of the play set. Like Buzz and Jesse, he has a shoulder charge move and a default ball throw move. For those who were pleased to see that the figures have unique abilities in the other sets, this comes off as disappointing.
Like The Lone Ranger set, the Toy Story play set is one of the better ones available for Disney Infinity. Even though there's some repetition, most of the missions are well done, and the change of focus is nice. There are lots of activities to do and a few secrets to explore, and the world is rather sizeable, even if it doesn't appear that way at first. More importantly, the franchise humor is intact, and the presentation is kicked up a notch compared to the other play sets released so far. "Toy Story" and Disney Infinity fans will have some real fun with this one.
More articles about Disney Infinity