By Matt Cabral
After kicking bad guy brick aplenty in last fall’s “LEGO: Marvel Super Heroes,” the Avengers re-assemble for an all-new interactive romp in “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes.”
Following up to 2013’s epic collision of collectable toys and virtual adventures, the series’ 2.0 edition will once again allow players to bring beautifully sculpted figures to in-game life by placing them on a portal like peripheral. This time, however, the franchise will forego the light-hearted fun of playful pirates and pretty princesses in favor of the combat-focused, adrenaline-amping action only Marvel’s iconic line-up of characters can deliver.
According to Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, “Marvel Super Heroes” won’t merely be “Disney Infinity” with a pretty spandex paintjob, put a passion project on par with the company’s film, comic book, and television endeavors.
“Like anything we do, we have been involved from the very beginning with the ‘Infinity’ team and they’ve been amazing to work with; it has really been an incredible collaboration,” Quesada says.
That close collaboration has helped spawn six figures—Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye—that would look as good displayed on a bookshelf as they would readied for action in front of an Xbox. Seated in front of a table of the sweet sculpts, Quesada continues:
“There’s a very synergistic approach to how we do things, especially when they are mass media efforts like this where we have a particular idea of what characters and what concepts we want to put our efforts behind. So we are very, very involved even in the character designs, the character looks, the poses, everything to make it very distinctly Marvel, within the context of the world of ‘Infinity,’ so that it doesn’t look it’s coming out of a different universe.”
Among the six aforementioned figures, Iron Man, Thor, and Black Widow will be bundled with the game’s starter pack; the remaining three Avengers will be available separately and will be joined by many other Marvel favorites—both Rocket Raccoon and Spider-Man were teased in the title’s trailer—over the course of the game’s life span. As with the original “Disney Infinity,” “Marvel Super Heroes” won’t only be supported by new characters, but also Power Discs and Play Sets. The former—when placed on the “Infinty” base—bring perks, powers, and items into the game like, say, a suped-up Smash attack for Hulk or Captain America’s Sky Cycle, while the latter serve as 4-6 hour story-driven, universe-expanding campaigns for players to tackle.
These narratively-focused Play Sets adopted a lighter tone in the first “Disney Infinity,” but thanks to legendary comic book creator Brian Michael Bendis’ involvement, the series’ Marvel-makeover will support the sort of rich, engaging storytelling fans have come to expect from the company’s other media properties. After joking that Bendis might be the only guy who knows as much about the Marvel Universe as himself, Quesada elaborates on the importance of the writer’s involvement: “He’s an amazing talent, so bringing him to ‘Infinity,’ to me, shows how devoted the ‘Infinity’ team is to making sure that this game is as Marvel-ly as it can possibly be.”
While we’d probably have an easier time hijacking the Helicarrier than prying story details from Quesada, he does offer this teasing set-up: “New York is being invaded by a Frost Giant army, which Loki has summoned and, with M.O.D.O.K., they’re trying to build a new Casket of Ancient Winters. And it’s up to Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop their dastardly plan to freeze the entire planet.” This Avengers-themed Play Set—bundled with the game’s starter pack—will be just the first of many; and, according to Quesada, all future sets will feature original stories penned by Bendis.
Of course, thwarting Frost Giants in Marvel’s Manhattan barely scratches the surface of what fans can expect from the next, super-powered installment of “Disney Infinity.” As players of the original game know, the franchise has already become famous for its do-it-yourself Toy Box mode. Within this creativity-encouraging sandbox, players can bring characters, vehicles, items, terrain pieces, and other virtual props together to make their own mini-games, challenges, and interactive worlds. Previous “Infinity” characters will also forward-compatible in this mode, allowing players to, say, assemble an Avengers team that includes Buzz Lightyear; we’re sure Hulk won’t be jealous at all. Toss in new Power Discs that bring alternate costumes and summon-able sidekicks, like Iron Man’s Mach VII armor and Iron Patriot, respectively, as well as new Toy Box Game Discs that’ll let you play Tower Defense—in Asgard!—and the possibilities are, well, infinite.
When asked if there’s enough Marvel material to keep future “Infinity” content fresh, Quesada laughs, then sums up the future potential of this fantastic new partnership:
“Yeah, I don’t foresee a problem at all, especially knowing what is coming—the characters that are coming, the additional stories that are coming that Brian has concocted. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we strategically planned it at Marvel in a way that we know it will be interesting and will keep our fans interested in what is coming up in ‘Infinity.’”
“Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” lands like a blacktop-buckling Hulk Smash this fall on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and PC.