Review: Disney Infinity's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Playset

It's the only 'Force Awakens' video game. But is it fun?

Disney Infinity - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Disney Infinity - Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Disney Interactive / Lucasfilm Ltd.

If you need to scratch your gaming itch with a dose of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there's only one place you'll find that experience: Disney Infinity 3.0.

The toys-to-life game puts Disney's various franchises in a single environment, with a massive Toy Box you can let your imagination run wild in and do anything you want. There are also "Playsets" that present a story campaign for those interested in a more structured experience.

Franchises include Marvel, everything Pixar's ever done, and Disney favorites like Pirates of the Caribbean and Frozen.

Now in its third iteration, Disney Infinity 3.0 introduced Star Wars into the mix, importing characters and playsets from the original trilogy of films, and Star Wars Rebels TV series, and now, The Force Awakens.

The best feature of this playset is the real-world figurines. The playset comes with Rey and Finn, with Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren available separately. I see more detail in these four than any of the other Star Wars figures released so far.

Kylo Ren's robes billow and fly behind him, his sleeves are tightly wrapped like mummy bandages, and his lightsaber is dangerously unstable. Every aspect of Rey matches her on screen character perfectly, from her layered clothing to her unique hair style.

The most detailed figure has to be Poe, whose costume is fantastically intricate with little bits and baubles all over.

His parachute straps are separate pieces that hang free from his body. He's even holding his custom black X-Wing helmet.

These characters even look like the actors who play them, much more than the heavily stylized figures from the previous two Star Wars sets. Yet they retain the signature Disney Infinity look and feel.

Aesthetically, they're my favorites so far.

In-game, the familiar skill trees are present for all four characters, allowing you to quickly and easily level up their abilities and unlock new ones. The controversy surrounding Rey's lack of involvement in many of the Force Awakens toys is happily a non-issue here. She's featured prominently throughout the campaign and her playable character is well represented, featuring voice work by Daisy Ridley herself. (All four characters feature the voice talents of the film actors.)

Kylo Ren is probably the most fun to play as, since he's the only character with a lightsaber and Force abilities. A nice little visual touch is the faint red mist that accompanies his dark side moves like super-jump. Adam Driver gives Kylo Ren some hilariously cocky lines that are usually triggered after a victory or a defeat.

Rey's burgeoning Force powers -- such a major part of the movie -- never show up in the game. She's a warrior in the game, don't get me wrong (and she kicks serious butt with that staff), but imagine how cool it would have been to have her Force abilities become available after leveling her up, as an echo of her growing prowess in the movie. It's a huge missed opportunity.

Like both previous Star Wars sets, all of the non-Force Awakens figurines are also playable here (after you collect their character coins), and likewise, the four new Force Awakens characters can play in Twilight of the Republic and Rise Against the Empire.

In typical Infinity fashion, the story is abbreviated to fit fewer locations and scenes than the film it's based on, though several of the major beats are in there. Leia only appears as a hologram, for example. Snoke, Hux, and Phasma are MIA.

Some odd discrepancies pop up here and there, such as the complete absence of Maz Kanata (one of her droids stands in for her). I assume that's due to the character's final design being approved very late in production. It's the same risk that always comes with developing a game concurrently with the movie it's based on.

Countless movie tie-in games tell a similar tale.

Being a kid-friendly game, some of the heavier plot points have been excised, such as Rey's childhood abandonment and Finn's Stormtrooper angst. The change that's most strongly felt is the removal of a certain major character death -- aka, the one the movie's entire climax hinges on. But Disney Infinity has never been about delivering powerful storytelling experiences. It's more about presenting tools kids (and adults) can use in creating their own stories, and some of these new tools are a blast.

But the campaign isn't a perfect experience. A perfect example: the moon orbiting Takodana, which is fully playable via connected platforms surrounding it, is fun enough. But it's full of endlessly respawning Stormtroopers, who chatter the same handful of phrases -- "Blast 'em, blast 'em!" "Watch out, watch out!" "Flank them, move around!" -- again and again and again until you want to put somebody's head through a wall. There's nowhere you can go to get away from it. How did so annoying a mistake slip through?

The side missions are a familiar collection of quest types: fight off a group of bad guys, take part in a race, collect items, gather up little creatures that have wandered off, etc. They're still fun, if a little repetitive, but we've definitely reached the limit of their use now. It's time for new kinds of quests.

One gameplay component that's unique to The Force Awakens playset is scavenging and repair. Little piles of junk are littered all over the locations you'll visit -- most especially on Jakku, because duh -- and scavenging them gives you coins you can spend to repair various parts of the level.

Most of these repairs help you reach areas of the map you couldn't access before.

Vehicles you get to pilot include the new X-Wing, the Millennium Falcon, and the new First Order TIE Fighter, which is unlocked after you complete the story campaign. There are several land vehicles as well, including Rey's speeder and a Luggabeast you can ride.

Like the previous two Star Wars playsets, there are 100 Mynocks to collect and 15 Holocrons, all spread throughout the various locations. Most of the Mynocks are easy and obvious (remember, it's a kid-friendly game) but a few of them are downright sneaky. The Holocrons are mostly found behind big metal doors that only lightsabers can cut through.

There are only two primary locations in this playset -- Jakku and Takodana -- but missions will also take you to Han Solo's big freighter the Erevana and Starkiller Base for the climax. Once you've played the story missions in those latter two locations, you can't return to them without starting a new game. So the side missions on the Erevana (there are none on Starkiller) should be done first, before you dive into the story stuff. And don't miss those Mynocks.

That said, Jakku and Takodana are both stuffed with activities that will keep you and the kids busy for hours. Jakku in particular is a gorgeous, gigantic, free-roam world to explore. Don't let the fact that it brings Jakku's landmarks in closer proximity to each other (Rey's walker "house" is right next to Niima Outpost) fool you; it's humongous.

Takodana isn't quite as big, though the nearby lake offers races and stunt tracks. But it's a bummer that as prominent as Maz's Castle is, you never once get to venture inside it.

Also available is a separate four-disc addon pack that gives you some extra goodies, such as costume changes for Finn and Poe, a tactical strike that rains blaster fire down from orbit, and a Quad Jumper vehicle to fly. I don't quite get the inclusion of that last one; the Quad Jumper was never flown in the movie. It was destroyed on Jakku before Rey and Finn ever reached it -- forcing them to take the Falcon instead. It feels a little out of left field.

Dear Disney: if future releases offer more playable Force Awakens characters, I'd love to play as BB-8, Captain Phasma, and Maz Kanata. Another welcome addition would be power discs that alter the appearance of legacy characters like Han and Leia to match their Force Awakens appearance. Older Han is already present as an NPC, so that one at least is ready to go!

Overall, the Disney Infinity: The Force Awakens Playset offers about the same amount of content and environments to explore as the first two Star Wars playsets. There are misfires here and there, but the popular new characters' personalities shine through nicely, and their collectible figurines are incredible.

It's a must-have for the Infinity faithful, but if you've never partaken of this series and are hoping for a faithful recreation of the movie, this probably isn't the game you're looking for.