Most games aimed towards children are either hastily put together, childish or just plain stupid. With the LEGO series though, you could almost smell the quality and time they put into the games. Even if you didn’t really like the gameplay or the approach, you would still have to conclude that this wasn’t some quick cash-in, though it certainly was successful. After the small disappointment we endured with LEGO Indiana Jones, it’s good to see Traveller’s Tales is back on track with LEGO Batman.
Of course, Lego Batman sets you in control of the heroic Dark Knight and his loyal sidekick Robin. Different as in other LEGO games, the game doesn’t follow a script from a famous movie, which gives Traveller’s Tales the advantage of being able to be more creative. This means that you will encounter every character you can possibly think of surrounding the interesting world of Batman, created in the movies or the comics.
The game exists of 6 acts, which are neatly divided into the Superhero acts and the villain acts. You get to play as Batman and Robin, but you can also choose to play as numerous super villains such as The Joker, Penguin, The Riddler or more obscure characters such as Man-Bat, The Mad Hatter or Killer Croq. I had personally never heard a word of the latter villains, so it’s nice to see Traveller’s Tales are eager to also explore some lesser known territory of the Saga.
The fan will instantly know he’s dealing with a LEGO game. The gameplay is pretty much the same as you’re used from other games like this one. This means you will once again have to demolish the environment to the little bits you once put in your mouth when you were little, while smashing your way through hundreds of LEGO goons. The occasional puzzle makes sure your brains get just enough air, making the missions just a little more interesting.
Every act contains a mission where you have to steer one of the famous Batmobiles, transforming the game into a shooter with vehicles. It’s a vital change of pace, because the ordinary missions will ultimately begin to bore you. Every other mission seems to be a rerun of the other and it goes a little like this: fight goons, smash things, fight goons, build something, solve a puzzle, fight boss. There’s nothing wrong with this when you intend to play the game for about thirty minutes, but for people like me who like to see as much as possible in a couple of days (reviewers I mean), it becomes really frustrating.
At certain points in the game, it’s possible to change the suits of Batman & Robin, giving them extra powers to find a way through obstacles or puzzles. For example, Robin can walk vertically with magnetic shoes, while Batman can detonate bombs with his bomb suit. This is a neat trick when you’re playing with a friend, because you really get the feeling you’re helping somebody when performing a puzzle your friend can’t solve This feeling disappears obviously when you’re playing alone, because you’re not really helping anybody but yourself.
Sadly though, your computer sidekick will need help one to many times because he will get stuck in the environments as he did in other LEGO games. When this happens, you will have to go back to where your sidekick is, because otherwise you will not be able to use him. He also has a tendency of falling to pieces when he jumps, but this isn’t half as frustrating as it sounds, because it’s impossible to see a “game over” screen in the game. Not very challenging, but necessary because of the hectic action on the screen. We wouldn’t like to play Megaman 2 when putting this disc in our PS3.
Yes, those are quite some letdowns, but they don’t match the harmless fun you will be having with LEGO Batman. There’s just so much to explore and the hidden options or different items to obtain are just countless. If you just skip the searching you won’t even have seen half of the game when you’ve finally ended all the acts. Remarkable, especially when you know most games these days don’t last longer than ten hours.
Gotham City is portrayed decent enough, but the real beauty lies in the bizarre and unusual environments that you don’t expect to see in Gotham. For example, Poison Ivy resides in the colourful Gotham Zoo and you will chase The Joker through an insane circus or a goth cathedral. Furthermore, the game looks as you would expect from a LEGO game: efficient, clean and simple. It didn’t blow my mind, but that’s not necessary in games like these.
Through the game, the echoes of Danny Elfman’s epic soundtrack from the first two Batman films will be heard almost continuously. Although that soundtrack is brilliant, it would be nice to have a little more variaton because you really are listening to the same tune over and over again.
Regardless of its flaws, LEGO Batman is great fun. Every minus has a plus, but we have to be strict when it comes to that. There are a few too many flaws to give the game a truly great score, but there’s nothing wrong with a 78. For younger gamers, or people like me who just wished they were still 12 years old, this is the perfect game. There’s a lot to do in Gotham City, the vehicles offer some variation and if you’re planning to play the game for about 30 minutes a day, I could certainly recommend this one.