Before you run out and drop a wad of cash on Disney Infinity it is important to know everything about it and how it stacks up to Skylanders. First and foremost, Disney Infinity isn’t Skylanders Giants or Skylanders Spyros Adventure! This is kind of crucial: they are two totally different games and focus on different things, but do share a toys-to-life style of play. If I had to categorize the major differences in the two franchises it would be that Disney Infinity is focused more on the world of the characters and what you can do in them, while Skylanders focuses more on the characters and their individual powers.
Another major difference in Disney Infinity is that you can only use the characters from their world in their world: i.e. you won’t be able to take the Incredibles cast and run them through the Monsters Inc. world or vice versa. This is crucial as I was looking forward to having different characters jump into the various worlds. Skylanders actually encourages you to use different element types in the different stages in order to open up all possible areas and get 100% completion on a stage.
From this perspective you will end up spending a lot more on Skylanders since you will end up, at a minimum, needing the starter pack, and then one of each element to get into every area in the game; while all you need is one character for each world in Disney Infinity. The only thing you will be able to get extra are chests for characters you purchase, and if you have everyone from a playset, then you can open the Vault in that area. The Vault only contains toys for the Toy Box: nothing really special to warrant the extra purchases.
In Disney Infinity a character’s level isn’t as important as in Skylanders since in Skylanders their level is directly tied to their HP. Also the characters in Skylanders have skill trees from which you can choose certain paths with varying powers while Disney Infinity has their skills set. Skylanders also focuses on building up your character via different stats like Health, Speed, Critical and Elemental Power. This plays out later in the game and especially in battling your friends while everything in Disney Infinity is based off of power discs. Also note power discs are a nice to have in Disney Infinity and not a need to have so don’t shell out cash unnecessarily.
Currently there are 5 worlds in Disney Infinity to play in: The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, Monsters Inc. and The Lone Ranger, with a Toy Story playset scheduled to launch in October. Compared to the Skylanders Giants pre-loaded 16 levels and 4 add-ons it seems like a lot less content, but honestly one Disney world compares to at least three or four levels in length. The other major difference is that you need the world piece on the Disney Infinity portal if you want to play in it, while Skylanders stages are loaded on the disc; and once you unlock the add-ons you won’t need the pieces anymore.
There is also a subtle difference in how you put things on the respective portals. Skylanders allows you to put two characters and an accessory anywhere on the portal while Disney Infinity lets you put two characters in specific locations and three power discs.
Many have classified Disney Infinity as for just little kids, but honestly there is a lot to do and unlock in the game that is geared up with MMO-styled quests. Skylanders does promote itself as having a bit more in-depth character development mixed with more combat geared for teens, but is straight forward in its level design and progression.
So although they both focus on putting characters on portals, they are very different, and it will come down to what your preference is. If you want to take a trip down memory lane and play through pieces of your childhood then grab Disney Infinity and plan on spending hours grinding through the worlds of Disney. Disney always focuses on presenting you an experience more than a game, from the opening scene where a simple idea grows into the game, to finely detailed figures that you will be spending a small fortune on.