Rising against an empire of empty spaces and fetch quests.
One thing that has set most Disney Infinity Play Sets apart from other media tie-ins has been the excellent use of story, as they often happen as a side-story or separate episode for the franchise characters. In some cases, like Studio Gobo's Guardians of the Galaxy set, it offered a retelling of events from the movie while changing certain elements to match the style and design of the game. It worked great with GotG, but with Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire (also developed by Gobo) it's the game's biggest drawback.
Rise Against the Empire tells a condensed version of the Star Wars: Episodes 4-6 with almost completely rewritten dialogue, and the bulk of the action set around their large Tatooine, Hoth, and Endor areas—each filling in for its respective movie. The dialogue has been completely rewritten to match a story where any of the characters can be in the environment or the fight at the same time; this creates an odd "Star Wars crossed with Friendship is Magic" feel: We'll all help you take down Dad Vader together, Luke! The upshot is that it's fun when playing as Han Solo—who offers sardonic quips whenever he takes a mission—but cloying when playing as almost any other character.
Really the Han Solo segments are pretty much gold. In one optional quest, which are mainly fetch quests, Han has to retrieve an Ewok cub who's strayed away from the tribe babysitter and says with a spot-on delivery by the Harrison Ford voice impersonator, "Maybe this guy shouldn't be in charge of kids." Darth Vader was also particularly well done, who is unlocked level midway through the game; making a potential final boss battle of Darth versus Darth metaphorically appropriate.
Disney Interactive really touted that Rise Against the Empire would be the game that showed off what Disney Infinity could do with vehicles—which have been the worst part of the franchise in many sets. The vehicle sections are a highlight of Rise Against the Empire, especially the on-rails Death Star sequences (flying into the core and dodging all the pipes is pretty ridiculously fun) but they are fewer than I expected. A second free-roaming speeder bike story mission would have been appreciated. For the way it was brought up beforehand, the application of these levels (which offered a fun arcade experience) seemed a little thin.
Unfortunately, this holds true for the Tatooine and Endor environments and space hubs in general as well. Everything feels a little bit empty, especially when compared to Twilight of the Republic's (or even Guardians of the Galaxy's) more dynamic level design. Quests, especially on the Forest Moon of Endor, feel at times padded. The only section that feels really alive is the Hoth section, where tasks always seem to reinforce the developing story (discover the invading Imperial force, hold off walkers, help troops get to their transport ships, etc)—something that Twilight did really well for all it's environments.
Disney Infinity is all about the characters being toys, and that each Play Set is like a kid's imaginary scenario of those worlds, and Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire nails this really well. Everything feels like it's made out of thick plastic, destroying the covering of an AT-AT leg reveals a dark blue under-layer, as if it were made of cheaper plastic the manufacturer used to reinforce the toy. Twilight of the Republic's story is so solid it could have been a set of Clone Wars episodes—and like the timeline of that show, there's a lot of time between the original movies they could have plumbed for a new adventure for Rise Against the Empire. It all looks great, but with the consequence-less fetch quests and vague retelling of the original movies, I just wish that "the kid" whose toy version of Star Wars I was playing had a less empty imagination.