The Lego series of video games have been around for quite sometime now. I remember when my wife and I moved into our new house well over 5 1/2 years ago, and I was playing Lego Star Wars on our family TV until my media room/home office area was complete. Since that time gamers have seen the whole Star Wars collection, Indiana Jones, and Harry Potter released as Lego games. Of course we have also seen a Lego Batman game too. Well it was only a matter of time before we saw a sequel to Lego Batman and Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is that game. Travellers Tales (TT Games) has taken the traditional Lego formula and added some new gameplay elements to make this one of the more enjoyable Lego games in awhile. That being said, the game does have a few issues that hamper some of the fun now and then.
Lego Batman 2 finds Batman and Robin teaming up with Superman in an effort to defend Gotham City from the evil exploits of The Joker and his newfound friend Lex Luthor. During the game’s 15 missions you will be tasked with defending Gotham City from various attacks, solving mysteries, and also also battling and capturing other famed DC Villains such as Two-Face, The Riddler, The Sandman, Poison Ivy, and Bane to name a few. Of course along with Batman, Robin and Superman, you’ll be introduced to new DC Superheroes including, but not limited to, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. It’s an amazing cast of DC Characters that TT Games has brought to life for Lego Batman 2 and many superhero fans should be giddy with the selection here.
The game starts off with some amazing cutscenes where Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor are vying for Gotham City’s “Man of the Year” Award. During the celebration The Joker and his cronies crash the party and the game introduces you to the basic controls and the need to use special suits for each character. After playing through the first level you are then introduced to a new feature to the world of Lego Batman, a huge open world environment where you are free to explore Gotham City to your hearts content. As you do so you’ll discover that there is much to do, from collecting the famed Gold Bricks hidden around the city, to driving different vehicles and collecting different characters. The amount of time that you can spend mindlessly traversing Gotham City is immense. Some of the items you hunt for can only be accessed using various characters and their various suits or abilities, so its not a matter of just collecting stuff with a hero or villain as you’ll have to think now and then in terms of who to use and when to use them.
The game has a nice balance of adventure and puzzle solving as you make your way through each level. If any negative could be noted here it is that newbies to the Lego franchise of games may find themselves at a loss for what to do in some of the levels. People may find that the way in which you need to advance through a level is not always clear. Rest assured though that there is always a solution and you will need to think a little more often than not in order to proceed forward. Of course one of the keys in Lego Batman 2 is the use of the aforementioned different suits for each character. From Batman’s Power Suit (fires missiles and has super strength) or Electric Suit (allows you to pass through electricity or harness electricity and put it elsewhere) to Robin’s Acrobatic Suit (allows for trapeze skills and a rolling bubble) or Hazard Suit (can walk through chemicals, go underwater, or spray water or other types of liquid), there is always a need for specific suits to assist you in opening up doors, finding hidden switches, or accessing hard to reach areas, all in for the sake getting through a level or finding that last elusive mini-kit.
Given the need to travel across the expansive world of Gotham City, you’ll find some pretty innovative ways to do so, including piloting or driving such vehicles as the Batmobile, Batwing, Robin’s Motorcycle, and Robin’s Copter to name a few. You can also drive various vehicles that are parked along side the road too. I got a kick at driving a school bus during a pivotal chase through the streets of Gotham City. You’ll even find yourself doing some of the game’s levels in a vehicle or two, as you fly, boat, or drive while you take down missiles and guns from enemy vehicles. These interludes from the ‘on-feet’ action are a nice way to mix things up.
Controlling your characters is fairly simple, and the game does a nice job of teaching you the basics, including how to jump, run, and use your weapons, as well as using strengths of specific characters or that are specific to the suit you are wearing. There is no need for a lot of button combinations, which is nice given that this game is Lego based and a lot of kids will be playing by themselves, with friends, or with one of their parents or siblings. If I did have one issue with the control it is that it still can have that ‘floaty’ feeling that has been associated with all the Lego games over the years. It is this lack of precision that can cause an untimely demise or cause you to drive your vehicle into a wall or two. For example, I had a few sections in one specific level (the chemical plant) where I needed to double jump, but the game did not register it and I died a little to often for my liking. Those looking for the pinpoint control of advanced adventure games may be disappointed here. You would think after all the Lego games that TT Games has developed that they could tighten this area up somewhat.
Lego Batman 2 offer drop-in/drop-out cooperative play. This is a nice feature as it allows people to grab a second person for some cooperative madness. Given that the game is a open-world experience this time around co-op is played in split screen as it allows you to go in a separate direction then that of your co-op partner as you don’t share the same screen. This adds a whole new dimension to the co-op experience and it is something I think is to be applauded here, given that you don’t have to stick together during your adventure.
I am sure that some people will complain that there is no online support for this game, but given the audience (rated E 10+) not a lot of people within this age bracket play online. I myself would have liked to see some online cooperative play, but in the end it is not a deal breaker by any means.
You should be able to finish Lego Batman 2’s main story in approximately 15 hours, give or take a few hours depending on your experience with the Lego franchise of games, as well as how much you do during your gameplay experience. There are 250 golden bricks to find throughout the game, and these not only based on your performance in any particular level, but as mentioned earlier, you can also find them scattered throughout the games open world environment. There are 20 red bricks to find, 10 mini-kits per level, and you can rescue all the “Citizens in Peril”. It is amazing how much stuff there is to do, and you will have to come back in Free Play after you’ve completed the game’s story in order to complete all the bonus stuff. For completionists there is a TON of stuff to do and you will get your money out of the game that is for sure.
Visually Lego Batman 2 is a stunner….most of the time. I have to say that the world of Gotham City and Metropolis City looks pretty amazing as portrayed in the Lego universe. I was taken quite surprised as I started to explore my surroundings. From the Batcave and Arkham Asylum to Gotham Zoo and the top of Wayne Tower, it is pretty darn amazing how much detail there is. And although you don’t spend the same amount of time in Metropolis City, you will see the same amount of detail that is found in Gotham City and that is pretty cool. The graphics engine is very well implemented and although there is some pop in now and then, the world in front of you is visible way in the distance. Oh yeah, did I mention that the world of Gotham City and Metropolis City is populated with Lego people (minifigures) and Lego Vehicles; Gotham Zoo even has Lego animals. Of course all the Lego Superheroes and villains are just as amazing too. The first time Superman swoops in to help Batman and you see his cape is flowing in the wind you know that a lot of work went into the game. Of course there are ample use of special effects, from explosions, fire and water effects, to lots of lighting and shadowing. Overall TT Games has stepped up to the plate huge here.
Although the game looks amazing, there are some visual deficiencies that hampered my overall experience. You will find that you will get trapped in certain environments. There were more then a few instances where I struggled to get out of a corner or drive a vehicle only to get ‘magically’ stuck on something invisible. While playing thru level 5 (Chemical Crisis) I found my character inexplicably stuck in or on a door that would not let me out. I tried everything I could for 10 minutes and eventually had to quit the level. This cost me 35 minutes or so of gameplay as I had to start all over again. I also found that the camera does have an insane ability to spin wildly out of control at times as it tries to get the best angle. You can control it but the environment can get in the way causing you to lose sight of your character. Although you can work through most of these, they did affect some of my overall enjoyment of the game, and I really wonder how kids may react as they face some of these problems. These issues are something that TT Games should have perfected by now.
Along with the positive aspects of the visuals, the overall sound is great too. Lego Batman 2 is the first time that a Lego game has talking minifigures. I have to say that I was somewhat apprehensive given the great history of the Lego games humour without using voice actors. As I played I breathed a huge sigh of relief as Lego Batman 2 has, in my opinion, nailed it. The voice work is fabulous with comical wit, great voices for each character, and just the right amount of dialog. I was amazed with Lex Luthor’s deep voice, the Joker’s cackling laugh, Harley Quinn’s love struck dialog, Superman’s “I am awesome” tone and one-liners, and of course the banter between Batman and Robin throughout the cutscenes. I think TT Games did a great job here, plain and simple.
As for the rest of the sound package, the music is solid, and there are some very memorable tracks. You’ll instantly recognize the harmony from the Superman movies as you take control of the flying wonder and fly across Gotham City’s landscape. All the music seems to have the right sound for the right scene no matter where you are. Sound effects wrap up a solid audio experience. From that typical Lego clicking as you build things, random explosions, water flowing through the Batcave, to that oh so familiar sound of your character dying and becoming a heap of Lego pieces, there are no complaints here. Should you be using a 5.1 surround sound system, be prepared for a great use of multi-directional effects too.
At the end of the day Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a good game, but it still could have been so much more. As I played I found that the addition of the open world of Gotham City was great, but the overall gameplay still sticks to the tried and true formula of so many Lego games before it. Add to this some control issues and collision detection problems that should have been fixed, and you have some areas that just take away from what could have been. In the end does this mean you won’t have fun with it? Absolutely not, as the voice acting and all the new characters are very enticing indeed. If you are a fan of superheroes and/or a fan of the Lego franchise of games, Lego Batman 2 will attract you for sure, if you don’t find yourself in this category though, feel free to take a look at this game anyhow, as you might just find yourself surprised at what is offered.