Disney Universe Review
Written : Tuesday, November 08, 2011
By: Lee Abrahams
Here at X360A it's no secret that we are all massive Disney fans, so much so that Webb can barely be parted for his massive plush toy collection for too long without suffering from the sniffles. Some or all of that may be fiction (albeit fiction with a heart warming mental image) but even the most hardened misery guts can find time every now and then for a bit of Disney magic, and the broad appeal across all age groups is one of the things that makes it such an endearing franchise. However, the latest Disney title is pretty much aimed at the younger end of the market and may suffer slightly as a result.
First of all, we would recommend that you don’t hit too many buttons when the game first loads up as you may well end up missing the so called storyline. The basic plot, such as it is, sees a Disney themed virtual world turned on its head when an evil AI bot called Hex turns all of the friendly robots evil. Frankly Hex is the least scary villain ever and we much preferred calling him the Red Eyed Bin Liner of Doom (trademark pending) as that is pretty much his general persona. Obviously it’s your job to dress up as Disney characters and sort out the mess.
"Crazy faces optional while you play."
The game is clearly at its best when played with multiple players, but then so is pretty much any game, as you can team up to solve puzzles and dish out Disney brand justice with rather large weapons. There is the option to play co-operatively or competitively, with players able to beat up on one another or lure each other into traps and curses. However if you do kill your rivals, then you can merely swipe some of their gold and seeing as it all goes into a collective pot anyway there is really no incentive to try and get one over on each other. Instead, as you would expect with a Disney game, you are encouraged to team up and tackle each level together in order to progress.
The levels themselves are fairly varied, though pretty short to boot. Taking place over six locations, including scenes from The Lion King, Aladdin, Wall-E, Monsters Inc, Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland, there is plenty going on in a visual sense, with each location offering a bunch of unique puzzles and sections. Some of the one-off events, like fleeing a moving wall of lava, taking on the villainous Scar with turrets or the Alice ball puzzles are well done, but others start to take on a sense of repetition. Using a Hat to leap to higher sections seems to fit in well, for example, but then that same idea is duplicated in multiple other levels, as is the idea of using a certain object to unlock new routes and areas. Within each world there are certainly a few great little things to see and do but it all starts to feel too familiar and generic.
The same is true of the combat as well. There are only six different varieties of enemies and they can crop up on every world, with the only difference being a slightly altered outfit. Defeating them is as easy as bashing X repeatedly, or snagging one of the various power-ups to make things easier, though you can also utilise a counter attack against some of the stronger foes. Certain levels also have an end boss, of sorts, and these are usually quite well done involving a mix of regular enemies, puzzles and fun to eventually emerge victorious. Still you can never escape the feeling that after the first few levels you have seen everything that the game has to offer, and most of the action that follows is just a variation on the same theme.
"Time for some multiplayer action. Suit up."
The six worlds have three levels each which, in turn, are broken down into three smaller sections. You can usually blitz through levels in a few minutes, so the game is hardly going to last you a great deal of time. Each level has a few collectibles, a power up for your weapons and a random challenge that can see you either faced with beating enemies, hazards or each other, but none of this really serves to provide much in the way of content. Even the fact you can choose from a host of Disney outfits is poorly handled, as none of them provide any discernable benefits over the others, so it never matters how you choose to dress. Plus, you are forced to replay every level twice to get them all which is a bit of a false economy.
Even the achievement list is pretty bog standard, with points on offer for using various power ups, completing each world and finding the various hidden items that are strewn across your path. In fact the game is more of a grind than you would suspect, as you will need to complete the whole thing twice to get all of the costumes, and then play through a bunch of levels to power them all up to maximum. Not to mention the fact you need a Gold grade on every zone to boot, which is fairly straightforward in most cases but still more trouble than it should be.
"Behind you! Look!"
This is certainly a game for the younger generation, and as such the issues of repetition and a distinct lack of substance will probably not be as important. Stick some kids around the console and they will have plenty of fun, and it can even be diverting for adults too, though not for very long. However despite all of that, it is safe to say that this could have done so much more with the Disney licence, especially when it comes to utilising the characters on offer and a more diverse array of worlds. The lack of a decent story does hurt Disney Universe too, even for younger players, and after the fun wears off there is very little reason for even hardcore Disney fans to revisit some of these iconic worlds.
Some rather twee music is accompanied by sparse voice work that amounts to little more than cheers and jeers.
Varied and interesting environments, but some of the animations can get hooked up and the game can slow to a crawl when a lot of enemies pop up at once.
Great for kids, with easy combat and simplistic puzzles and platforming to keep them occupied. Everyone else may tire of the repetition before too long though.
A strange mash of fun concepts with Disney ideas and skins almost slapped on top, at times it feels like the license was more of an afterthought than the overriding concept.
A dull and rather tiresome list, that requires you to complete every world, get gold medals while doing so and acquire all the suits. Matters are made worse by the fact you’ll have to plough through each level at least twice and level up all of the outfits.
Disney Universe is a perfect game for kids, especially with four players, but the simplistic gameplay and rather small levels may soon begin to grate on everyone else. Plus for every unique idea there are a bunch of others that seems to be repeated over and over again. Disney Universe is a fun diversion but nothing more than that.