LEGO Batman 2 is by far the most ambitious LEGO game yet, featuring an open world environment, full character voice overs, and a lot of other overhauls to the series. Developer Traveller’s Tale has not only outdone themselves and their LEGO franchise, but offers arguably the best DC Comics game ever.
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Traveller’s Tale
Released: June 19, 2012
Platforms: PlayStaton 3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360
LEGO players will immediately be comfortable as you begin your reckless romp of destroying everything in the room for the precious studs. The Batarang mechanic has been simplified, but remains similar, and LEGO fist to LEGO fist combat remains the same as its predecessor. New ability costumes like Batman’s Stealth Suit and Robin’s Acrobat Suit and more are spread throughout to help you navigate stages and solve puzzles. Had this first 20 minutes of the game been the preface for the remainder of the game, it would have ultimately fallen short as just another LEGO game, but when your first opportunity comes to set foot in LEGO Gotham City, it quickly becomes clear that this is the exciting new evolution the LEGO series has needed.
Gotham City is big. Not one of the largest maps in video games, but by LEGO standards there’s a lot of ground to cover. After the city’s deadliest criminals break out from Arkham Asylum, crime and riots fill the streets. The city is a madhouse itself with rampaging thugs and fleeing citizens. And gone are the simple matchbox car vehicles and towing missions repeated in so many of the previous LEGO titles. A more realistic driving mechanic has been applied for your road raging pleasure in the Batmobile and other vehicles.
Of all these changes, the most profound was full freedom of flight through the city as Superman. The flight controls aren’t as sophisticated as other Superman games, but it’s simple enough after enough practice. But the beauty of it comes once you’re up, up and away, as John Williams’s classic score from Superman: The Movie follows you through the skies. Superman has just as large a role in the game as Batman and Robin, and really comes off as a unique playing experience. No fancy gimmicked suits needed for the Man of Steel. All his powers are intact, as well as his invulnerability. Things like bullets or object crashing into Superman roll off just as you would expect. Only a few video game idiosyncrasies are pulled with Mr. Kent, like not being able to blow up anything silver, only because that’s Batman’s job in his Power Suit.
Almost more fun than being Superman is seeing the LEGO caricatured relationship between the World’s Finest. It’s everything we love about the dichotomy of their personalities, but in goofy LEGO form.
But the title is not LEGO Batman and Superman, it’s LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. The game offers 70 playable characters with a sizable amount being the Justice League. The JLA didn’t have as large a role as I expected in the story, but by the final stage you’ll be in command of a full roster of heroes all in one boss battle. As far as ability, the rest of the League is pretty tame. Each character’s powers resemble what we know of them, but are ultimately appropriate combinations of Superman’s powers and the powers of Batman’s and Robin’s special suits. For instance, Cyborg has Superman’s heat vision combined with Robin’s Magnet Suit abilities. Green Lantern was the character I was most interested in playing as, but unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed. The only function Hal brings to the table is manipulating specific green blocks. And he doesn’t even have the same invulnerability or strengths as Superman. As a comic book fan, it was a real low point. But not so low as to kill my excitement for the other characters.
After the campaign, the city is yours to save. Instead of simply purchasing characters over the Batcomputer, you actually face them in a boss battle and are left with the option after you take them down. Also scattered about the city are red blocks to collect. You’ll have to keep a close eye out for those, they can be tricky to find.
I was really nervous about Traveller’s Tale’s decision to have character dialog, but I found it just as enjoyable, if not more, than the simple hm’s and ha’s of the past. And it’s a credit to the developers for landing some of the biggest names in animation to provide the voices of the characters. Tom Kenny, Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio, and Tara Strong are just some of the familiar voices you’ll hear. My favorite, however, was Clancy Brown reprising his role as Lex Luthor, and putting on the most PG performance of his career with the character. The audio overall is good, I just wish the score came from more than just Danny Elfman’s work on Batman. It’s good music, but it has trouble carrying a game the length of LEGO Batman 2.
The LEGOs have never looked better on your TV, and the comedy is almost as sharp as the graphics. The humor is obviously meant for young children, but even as an adult, I was often chuckling.
If LEGO Batman 2 is a sign of the LEGO games’ future, then the future is bright. As a gamer and comic book reader, little could have made me happier than this game. If you’ve never played a LEGO game before, LEGO Batman 2 is a great place to start.
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