Disney is taking the wraps off of Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic, one of three major Star Wars “play sets” that go with the family-friendly Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition toy-game platform that is coming later this year.
The game is part of a gargantuan Disney strategy to bring toys to life in games and grab an even bigger share of this growing market — one in which a recent study showed parents spending an average of $131 over the last six months on such products.
Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic, which is based on the most popular toy and movie merchandising property of all time, debuts this fall as part of the third edition of Disney Infinity. With it, players can play an animated game on their consoles or other platforms and then use toys connected to a portal to interact or switch characters within the game. Each time Disney Interactive comes out with a new “play set,” that is the equivalent of a 10-hour game.
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GamesBeat got a hands-on preview and had some interviews with Disney leaders at a recent event. Disney is also releasing a new trailer depicting Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic today. You’ll be able to get the Disney Infinity 3.0 platform on the PC and a variety of video game console platforms.
The new toy-game merchandise is Disney’s latest thrust in a huge competitive battle that kicked off in 2011 when Activision debuted Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. Now the market includes not just Skylanders and Infinity but also Nintendo’s Amiibo, Warner’s upcoming Lego Dimensions, and Rovio’s Angry Birds. Altogether, the “toys to life” category will generate about $3 billion in revenues in 2015, according to analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securities. Infinity has become a huge business for Disney Interactive, the digital entertainment division of The Walt Disney Co.
This first Star Wars play set fits into the fight between The Old Repubic and droid armies of the Separatists, with events and characters from The Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith in the Star Wars films as well as The Clone Wars animated show. Ninja Theory is making it. The lightsaber combat made the studio — known for action-heavy games like DmC: Devil May Cry and Heavenly Sword — an ideal developer for the play set, said John Blackburn, the studio vice president and general manager of Disney’s Avalanche Software studio.
“We want to bring these great brands together,” Blackburn said in an interview with GamesBeat. “Our goal is to create the best-quality family friendly games of the year.”
Disney has invested heavily in making Infinity games using its own developers as well as external studios. Full told, eight studios have contributed work to this year’s Disney Infinity games, said John Vignocchi, vice president of production at Disney Interactive.
“It was very important to create an authentic and complete Star Wars experience,” said Ada Dunn, vice president of Lucasfilm digital business and franchise management at Disney. “We know from research that video games are often the first way that kids experience Star Wars for the first time. We also know Star Wars is a multi-generational property. We often see parents introducing their children to Star Wars in multiple formats, beyond the films.”
She said the original vision for a complete experience emphasized ease of access for all ages, lightsaber combat, multiple environments, and space combat.
In this E10+ (rated suitable for anyone 10 and older) game, players travel to four different locations, including the open worlds of Tatooine and Coruscant. They’ll fight battle droids in Geonosis and take part in a boss battle on Naboo. They can fight as various characters, including Jedi like Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda on behalf of the Republic. You can also play as bad guy Darth Maul, who wields his double-bladed lightsaber. Each Jedi has a specialized Force combat ability and finishing moves.
How it plays
I played as Obi-Wan Kenobi, fighting droids on Geonosis. I could hack-and-slash my way through with ease in a level that young kids could play. I found a certain pleasure in slicing droids in half. You’ll be able to increase the difficulty for adults. That means you’ll have to use both the lightsaber and combo moves with the Force to win.
The gameplay is faster and more fluid than in past Infinity games. That was a major goal of the developers: to make play sets feel like full-fledged games. Each character has a unique style. Obi-Wan is tactical and defensive, while Yoda is a whirl of flying action. The opening section is around 45 minutes long and the whole game has 20 kinds of enemies.
The brilliance of the whole toys-to-life model is that it gets parents spending not only on the main platform but toys as well.
The Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic play set comes with the Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition Starter Pack, which will retail for the reduced ($5 less) price of $65 in the fall. The play set comes with Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker character figures, with a web code that unlocks content for PC and mobile devices.
Two additional Star Wars play sets should be available for Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition this holiday: Rise Against the Empire and The Force Awakens (based on the new film coming this fall). A play set based on Disney Pixar’s upcoming film Inside Out and a Marvel play set featuring Hulkbuster Iron Man, Ultron, and other Marvel characters should also be available. Disney plans to reveal more Infinity figures and play sets in the coming months.
Blackburn said that Disney Infinity 3.0 is the final mega-launch of a major Disney franchise on Infinity 3.0. Players will be able to collect a bunch of Star Wars characters and play with them in mixed play in Toy Box, the free-form section of Infinity where players can create their own worlds. For the first time, fans will be able to mix characters from Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel properties.
“We allow players to create and tell their own stories,” Blackburn said. “It’s a competitive advantage for us, as this is the only place you can experience these brands together.”
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