Tired of brutal and realistic Batman? Have an urge to smash bricks apart? Traveller’s Tales have heard your cries and brought Lego Batman back with the second installment. Lex Luthor and The Joker have teamed up to bring chaos down on Gotham, this time giving Batman a little more than he can handle alone….or with just Robin. Thankfully, the Justice League is also dropping in to help setting the stage for one epic clash. Collecting studs, building Lego objects, and smashing nearly everything apart in a room is back for your destructive pleasure. So is LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes a shining beacon of justice or does The Joker have the last laugh?
Full review after the jump…
Lego Batman 2 picks up with the Dark Knight attending an awards ceremony as his alter ego, Bruce Wayne. He runs into Lex Luthor there who’s also in the running for the Man of the Year award. Things obviously don’t go as planned when the Joker makes a surprise appearance and as chaos breaks out, Batman and Robin show up and take care of business. Lex sees an opportunity to take power and heads to Arkham Asylum where he releases all of the major villains. Lex and Joker team up to take over Gotham and beyond. Their plan becomes so big that eventually, Superman and the rest of the Justice League step in to assist.
The traditional Lego gameplay is back on display. Once you get into one of the 15 missions, the game becomes the typical side scrolling, object breaking, stud collecting, puzzle solving game that you remember from other titles in the series. Traveller’s Tales has taken time to improve on some rough edges present in the other games and it’s noticeable. The puzzles on display make way more sense and yet aren’t insultingly easy at the same time. The tricky platforming jumps are now gone as well so there will be less frustration and less cheap deaths when navigating through a mission. Also gone are the vehicle levels, replaced with on-rail vehicle sections where your main goal isn’t to drive, but to shoot. Overall, the main campaign will run you anywhere from 8-10 hours based on how thorough you want to be in the levels and it’s a very strong entry for the series.
Lego Batman also represents a lot of firsts for the series. The biggest change is the fact that characters are now completely vocal. Yes, voice actors have been brought in to provide dialogue for the characters replacing the miming standard of the past games. While it’s a departure for the series, it’s handled well by the cast and the lines are delivered with passion. It also helps when you have such a strong voice cast including Clancy Brown, Steve Blum, Troy Baker, Rob Paulsen, and Cam Clarke to name a few. The only issues I have is that I feel the humor isn’t as strong as it was in the past games due to the fact that the characters no longer have to try as hard to express what they’re trying to say.
The other big change is the open world map. You’re no longer stuck in the Batcave or Arkham Asylum. Sure, you can visit there, but for the first time, Gotham is completely open for you to visit. And don’t worry, there’s about a bazillion things to do in the city including rounding up all of the escaped villains, rescuing citizens in peril, collecting red bricks, gold bricks, and the various unlockable vehicles. It’s a fantastic change to the series and one that I hope continues with future Lego games. Being able to fly around with Superman and have that classic Superman theme kick on is awesome. It’s also great to be able to visit all of the major locations from the Batman series in Lego form like Ace Chemicals, Wayne Tower, and every other location you can think of. It’s all here. You can tell a lot of time and care has gone into Gotham to make it feel and look authentic.
Let’s get this straight, the game is a ton of fun and stays true to the Lego gameplay you expect. With that said, there are a few issues I have that hurt the game a bit. The dynamic split screen makes a return from previous games and is just as good as you remember. The thing I don’t understand is why it doesn’t remain when you’re playing co-op in Gotham City. For some reason, the split screen remains static when you’re not in a mission and the way the camera is positioned in relation to the characters, it can make it very hard to see what you’re doing, especially in vehicles. Take the Batmobile for example. The back of the car is pretty large and with the camera pulled in close, it makes driving pretty difficult as you can’t see where you’re going due to most of the screen being taken up by the car. This issue would have been a non-factor if the camera was pulled back a bit.
The open city is a great new addition but you can tell it was their first attempt as there’s a few little issues that make navigating and finding things a little more difficult than it should be. Players are not given a minimap, instead you’re given a compass with all of the little icons smushed onto it. This essentially renders it useless as you can’t tell what is what. The map screen is helpful as an alternative if you don’t mind pausing the game often but there’s so many icons it can make it a little tricky to figure out what or where the thing is. Placing a waypoint marker on the map will add an additional icon to the compass and unfortunately won’t create a marker (like the bat signal or something) in the game world that’ll show you where you want to go. Too many times I got lost or it just took way longer than it should have to find the item that I was hunting. Again, these are minor gripes that should be quick fixes for the next Lego games.
Traveller’s Tales has really outdone themselves with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Not only can you say that this is the best Superman game ever, but you can also say this game takes collecting and exploring to entirely new heights with it’s new open city to explore between missions. They’ve also dipped their hand into improving the series as a whole by adding voice acting, improving the platforming and puzzles, and nailing the overall gameplay. It may not be a perfect first attempt, but there’s no denying that it’s a great game and worth your time.
LEGO Batman 2 gets 4 Gold Bricks out of 5