Versions Also Available for PC, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, 3DS and PSVita
However, that has all turned around in Lego Batman 2. Up until now, I have firmly believed that the original Lego Star Wars was the outstanding leader in the series, never being bettered by its follow ups. With the release of Lego Batman 2, the crown may have finally been taken.
This is the first game to include voices for its characters, where before the Lego figures would do little more than grunt, mumble and hum. Later games such as the Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones suffered for this, with their stories becoming confusing to anyone who had not seen the corresponding movies recently. The Lego Batman games do not follow a film storyline, so that safety net is not there. The idea of including voice to the previously mute characters was met with some resistance, but it has worked well and the cast are performed as they should be.
Being a Lego game, the Batman, his allies and enemies are a little more silly than their Dark Knight style incarnations adding to the fun of the experience. Robin, though skilled and useful on missions becomes a comedy sidekick, often the fall guy in gags. One of the greatest sources of humour I found was Batman’s seemingly unwarranted dislike towards Superman, constantly begrudging his presence.
As with all the Lego games, the set up is that of a standard platformer with puzzle elements. Controls are simple, with plenty of on screen prompts and reminders to help. Players of previous Lego tie-in games with be familiar with much of what is available here. It is great for gaming beginners or long time players alike.
The collectibles in game will be familiar also to any players of other Lego titles. Gold and Red bricks return, as do Citizens in Peril, Minikits, Lego studs and the extensive collection of playable characters.
Batman’s suits from the first game return, each one offering him or Robin a different set of abilities to use in different situations. This is possibly one aspect that I am not a fan of. Batman’s basic gadgets are his trusty batarang and a grappling hook, though he retains these when wearing any other suit. His other suits do not look as good as his standard batsuit, but you are forced to ditch it in order to continue through stages. I think Batman (and Robin) would have been better served if they had a greater number of gadgets as standard. Some suits (e.g. Robin’s Hazard Suit) only work separately as they are, but Batman should really have his glide ability as standard, as Robin should probably have his acrobatic skill. I’ll also mention that Robin’s Ice Suit makes him look a lot like Padme Amidala. The changing suits however make sense gamewise as they add another layer to the puzzles, but on the other hand this idea is somewhat made irrelevant when some other characters come into play.
Superman for example has the powers of flight, heat vision, x ray vision, ice breath, super strength, super build speed and invulnerability all in one. As soon as he joins your team, Batman almost becomes the sidekick, which is a shame since he is the games title character.
Lego Batman 2 seems to offer the smallest number of heroes and villains to take control of to date, but in comparison to some other games, there are a greater number that are actually fun to use. The game does a great job of including many favourites and introducing a number of more obscure characters. Each of the Justice League heroes have their own abilities as do the Super Villains. The Flash is fast at everything he does, Wonder Woman is super strong and able to fly and Cyborg has magnetic powers. Green Lantern seems somewhat underpowered, his main ability being that he can manipulate green Lego bricks that no one else can, rather than being able to summon up anything his imagination conjures. Players are expected to remember each of their characters abilities in this game as the method of having them glow a certain colour or have something obvious about their person signifying their powers is done away with. Though it may be a little tricky to remember sometimes, I much prefer this than having the likes of Killer Croc run around with glowing orange feet.
There are a few new things in Lego Batman 2 however, such as the implementation of checkpoints. The stages are quite long, so players may now save progress part way through a mission at set computer terminals rather than be forced to finish the entire level.
The biggest change (although sort of built on since Lego Harry Potter) is that rather than have a single room or set of rooms that have doors leading to the separate levels, Batman and Robin have an entire Lego Gotham City in which to free roam and explore. This is definitely the biggest Lego game so far and will take some outdoing. As well as the full sized Gotham, players have a number of stages to explore in which they see the city in deeper detail and even have a chance to visit Metropolis.
The city is full of secrets and things to play with. There are more citizens to save from danger, puzzles to solve, prizes to win, a theme park with functioning rides and dodgems, vehicles to find and buy and of course villains to hunt down and capture.
Speeding through the streets of Gotham in the Batmobile is a joy. Crazed thugs and fightened citizens will dash about in front of you, but there doesn’t seem to be any penalty for knocking them down.
However, once you get your hands on Superman, he steals the show again. He is able to fly through the city skies at great speed, avoiding the commotion below all to his legendary theme from the movies.
Batman’s animated series theme returns too, giving a great atmosphere while playing, however unfortunately Wonder Woman’s tune is not present.
There are not many bad things to say about the game besides minor niggles. Play stops for a few annoying seconds to save whenever you win a Gold brick, which can be frustrating if thugs are pounding you while you can not retaliate, the control scheme for flight is different in free roam as it is in level which can be mildly confusing and Batman’s limelight is often stolen.
The games story is quite weak, but as the ride is so fun, it does not matter too much. New bulletins every so often provide a humorous commentary about what is going on and contain even more obscure references to DC characters like Kite Man, Ace and Crypto. Of course it does not forget the old favourites Joker, Two Face, Penguin, Riddler, Harley Quinn and Catwoman.
Though it is a two player game, it is probably best played solo. There are quite a few times when the alter egoes of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson and their allies have to solve a puzzle which requires one to wait around doing nothing for quite a while. The two player is best suited to parents playing to give a little help to their kids.
The Lego games seem to be getting better and better, somehow managing to make their puzzles both more complicated yet very simple to understand for beginners to gaming. For fans of Lego games and the sillier incarnations of Batman this is a great addition to your collection.