Traveller’s Tales have been with the LEGO series since 2005, when the first of their movie-based games, LEGO Star Wars, hit our screens with a blocky bang. Seven years on and numerous sequels later, the series is still going as strong as ever with the latest instalment – LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. So, does it build on the original or is it like stepping on Legos?
The game follows the newly voice-acted Batman and Robin, along with other members of the Justice League like Superman, as they fight an outbreak of supervillains including Harley Quinn, the Riddler and the venerable Joker (assisted by Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor). For the most part the story gives way to the brick-breaking action, but you’ll find yourself caring a lot more about this than in previous instalments.
Not that the action you’ve come to know and love has been dumbed down at all – you’ll find yourself exploring the familiar semi-side-scrolling levels teeming with secrets and the addition of new characters, suits and abilities for Batman and co. only adds to the experience – one moment you could be flying through the air as Superman, the next exploring underwater with Robin’s biohazard suit before finishing off by beating up some baddies as the masked man himself. There’s a range of challenging and fun puzzles to be completed in each area, though the time it takes to defeat bosses might leave you a little bored. Still, if you liked the gameplay of the previous LEGO games you’ll probably like this one too – it doesn’t do anything tremendously new, but you shouldn’t fix what’s not broken this most certainly isn’t. It’s intersected with the occasional on-rails sections where you’ll be following one of the baddies’ vehicles while throwing frankly irresponsible amounts of firepower at it in an effort to slow them down. It’s a nice change, one that manages to mix up the game styles without throwing the player off too much.
The world is notably more unrestricted and open than the ones you may have seen before. The streets of Gotham City have come to life with traffic and civilians littering the area and a huge variety of vehicles to ride around in – including bicycles and a giraffe. It can sometimes be a little hard to find your way to the next objective though – some sort of Crazy Taxi-style arrow showing the direction of your goal might have been useful, and we’d hope something similar is included if they make more of these (which you know they will).
Scattered throughout each stage are minikit pieces that can be used to access hidden vehicles through the Batcomputer, with some hilarious results. When you’re not collecting them, you can be running around gathering Gold Bricks for completing challenges and Red Bricks to unlock various cheats to make the game easier, harder, or just plain strange.
Many of these bonuses have to be earned by playing in multiplayer, which is why it’s useful that LB2 employs the very intuitive drop-in/out system from its predecessors which allows the second player to jump into gameplay without interrupting flow, and leave whenever they like without the pressure to finish the level. Multiplayer adds a lot, since, at its heart, the game is meant to be played socially, and the competition over who can collect the most studs can get quite heated. Just don’t start killing each other too soon, or you’ll never reach that Super Hero status!
While playing this, you’ll probably notice fewer glitches than in other LEGO games – we didn’t encounter any level-breaking bugs or events that won’t trigger, which is good work on the part of Travellers’ Tales. It means the whole experience is smooth and uninterrupted, which can only be a good thing.
The graphics have been given a slight upgrade, with rather lovely fire effects and particles to give a sense of playing with an actual LEGO set. It’s all quite nice and runs at a rare 1080p, so there’s nothing lost between the different versions (unless you’re playing on Wii). Those of you who like your innovation might worry about the fact that the interface is rather similar and it seems to be running on the same engine the first game did, but it still stands up reasonably well.
Curiously, the latest Caped Crusader adventure is fully voice acted, and it’s actually surprisingly well done – Robin is just as camp as always, of course, but Batman manages to avoid sounding like he smokes sixty a day and it’s fitting seeing as he’s not a dark, gritty action hero – he’s a plastic LEGO figure! The rest of the sounds are typical action noises like explosions and fighting sounds, all topped off with a nice exciting soundtrack.
While LEGO Batman 2 isn’t the most innovative or exciting entry to the series, it’s a solid entry that is well worth a look. The addition of voice acting works well, and actually helps make you more involved with the story, since it tells something new rather than following the other LEGO games and rehashing a tale that’s come before. All in all, if you liked the previous games, go ahead and buy it and if you didn’t? Well this one might just change your mind.
LEGO Batman 2 is worthy of its name in every respect. A solid game with the right amount of content to back it up. 9/10.
So what do you think? Looking good? or falling flat? Let us know in the comments!