‘Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes’ Game Review

Platform: PS3, X-Box 360, Vita, DS, 3DS, Wii, Windows

Genre: Action/Puzzle

Review: And so we once again enter the world of small plastic bricks. One could reasonably argue that the Lego gaming franchise has pushed the gimmick way beyond the realm of ‘novelty’, which is what the original few games in the franchise felt like. After four Star Wars titles, two Batman, two Harry Potter two Indiana Jones and a Pirates of the Caribbean the simple pleasure seeing tiny little Lego versions of our favourite stories miming their way through levels more about collectables than gameplay has diminished. Yet, for some reason, I’m still playing them…

Part of the reason in this case is because it’s Batman, and that’s reason enough to give anything a bash. This entry also promised quite big changes with a sandbox Gotham replacing the usual level hub and the full cast of the Justice League appearing as playable characters. Telltale have also heavily promoted the fact that the characters can talk now, bringing the series on a par with gaming breakthroughs over a decade past.

“We’ve finally caught up with voice acting. Now for online gaming…”

When it comes to the inclusion of the voices for the characters, it takes away the wacky mime routines that the Lego games have used in the past. They’ve always had a fun charm to them with the silly over-acting being the source of much of the games humour, especially when it comes to the material from Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean that may not have been suitable for the younger gamers. Surprisingly the switch to voice work has made this the funniest game in the series with some downright brilliant writing. The exchanges between a sullen Batman and smug Superman are especially awesome as they play to the character dynamic to a tee.

Less successful is the utilization of the sandbox gameplay. Whilst a game like Grand Theft Auto, which wrote the book on gaming sandboxes, would treat the map as an explorable world filled with distractions and side-missions, and the story missions would take place in the same map. In Lego Batman it’s little more than a mission hub, seeing Batman and Robin travelng from Point A to Point B for the purpose of starting the next self-contained level that bears no relation to world map. As the story mode progresses your ability to travel the map and explore gets, oddly enough, more inhibited as your vehicles and flight abilities are limited. It’s only when the story is complete that you get full run of Gotham to solve hidden puzzles, collect items and unlock characters, but this isn’t going to be of any interest to those players who don’t get itchy at the thought of 100% completion. Most disappointing is the seeking out of various villains from the Batman universe (plus Zod, Brainiac, Sinestro and Capt. Boomerang) which only leads to a small scuffle before unlocking them. It could’ve been a perfect opportunity for a little mini-level themed to each baddie.

On the flip side this is the best of the series to date. Without being restricted by a per-exsisting story like many of the other entries in the series the levels are free to be as creative as possible and the designers have gone nuts. As well as the expected battles like Arkham Asylum we get an attack on the Batcave, a fight through a moving truck carrying chemical waste and a punch-up on the back of a flying giant robot. The people behind this production are very clearly fans of the source material. The game is rich with details for fans of the Dark Knight with all the major locations of Gotham brought to life in a little plastic brick kinda way. The use of the soundtrack adds a lot to the atmosphere – one of the best details of the design is the way the music switches from Elfman’s Batman soundtrack to Williams’ Superman score when Superman takes to the skies. The characters are perfectly captured and the banter between them is gold.

We’re unlikely to see this happen anywhere else.

There was potential for this game to set a new standard for the Lego franchise but a lazy approach to the new mechanics lets it down. Instead of a sandbox game of bigger scope you get a brief story game followed by an extended treasure hunt. It would’ve been easy to meld these two together for a better experience. Plus the lack of online co-op is downright baffling considering you need two characters at all times anyway.

Great fun, especially for Batman fans, but lacking as a game overall.

Score: SIX outta TEN