Rated E 10+ for comic mischief
Okay, I have to admit- when I opened up the Gamefly envelope and saw that I had received LEGO Batman I wasn’t as excited as someone should be for obtaining a brand new game to play the day after it comes out. I literally wore myself out on the LEGO series by nearly 100% completing the previous titles. My daughters, however, were chomping at the bit to play as Batman so into the 360 it goes…
As the first level draws to a close, my preconceptions about the game- being repetitive, just like the other LEGO games, etc- remain unchanged. But something changed about the 3rd level of the first act, and it was then that I realized…
LEGO Batman is very good.
While it is true that Traveler’s Tales has packed more of the same into another franchise “block-ified”, the way that they have developed the puzzle solving with the new character roster is quite remarkable. The solutions involve several different outfits for both Batman and his sidekick Robin- including magnetic feet, a glide suit, and a radioactive suit allowing Batman to touch the obviously deadly (you can tell by the color) red Lego’s to build. At first I thought Robin with magnetic shoes and the bomb-placing Batman were… well, cheesy. Ultimately, I let myself remember what the classic Batman mythos has always been about, and the game and its inherent creativity came to light.
Gadgets. Batman has always been about gadgets. Where does he get those wonderful toys, anyway? From the big ones like the Batmobile and the Batwing, even to the smallest of his arsenal- the Batarang- these are what the Dark Knight has always been about. And they are all in this game. Driving levels were absent in LEGO Indiana Jones, but they make a welcome return via the iconic Batmobile. The Batarang plays an important role throughout the game’s humor in cutscenes, and as Batman’s only ranged attack.
The graphics in LEGO Batman are exactly what those familiar with the LEGO series have come to expect- looking decent for the family genre, and fitting to the franchise. But its the main heroes and villains’ presentation that will impress fans. There’s really no other way they could have been rendered and still fit so well into the colorful crossover universe they inhabit. Some scenes, like the driving levels, will stand out as better implementing the palette and detail than the rest, but other than that you know what you’re getting by looking at the cover.
Difficulty in the LEGO games has always been a mixed bag. On one hand, players can join up and have fun with just about anyone in the family- thanks in part to the lack of any true “game over”. On the other hand, younger gamers may have trouble negotiating the jumps and some of the puzzles- mostly due to the inconsistent camera. It can appear you’re totally jumping in the right direction, only to miss the platform and fall to your doom. These sections may create a snack break for more skilled players, while waitig for the young ones to finally make the jump for the fourth or twelfth time. Like the other LEGO games, Batman has a hub- this time the Batcave- oddly enough the most difficult for younger players to get around in, as one can fall off ledges just about everywhere within.
The Batcave is where players can buy new characters and vehicles to use during free play. On the Xbox 360, players will have fun collecting achievements for obtaining all superheroes, vehicles, and villains- but those hoping to take the Joker into the main game may have been a little aprehensive, considering how previous installments in the LEGO series have dealt with such characters. Never fear- the villains are not only used in free play this time, but have their own separate storylines with their own hub (Arkham Asylum). For all intents and purposes, this gives you two LEGO games in one. All this combined with hidden items to find in each level really injects a great deal of replay value. In my opinion, the Batman installment is a must-have for anyone who has enjoyed previous LEGO games. Family gamers with children old enough to enjoy it, or just want a break from the constant wave of shooters, owe it to themselves to give it a chance.