Friday, 10 August 2012

Game Review: Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes

‘Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes’ is a game that doesn’t disappoint its fans. It provides plenty of fun, humour and a great world for the player to explore. Most importantly though is that this game does Batman justice, a feat which many, many games about the dark knight have forgotten and failed because of. 
Batman and Robin with the help of Superman must thwart the evil of Lex Luthor and The Joker who plan to rig the upcoming presidential election in Luthor’s favour by infecting the citizens of the world with hypnotic gas.
This story isn’t going to beat out any classic Batman tales but for a Lego game it’s perfect since it offers plenty of opportunities for comedy and for the player to encounter as many of Batman’s rogues gallery as possible. The actual major plot of the story is not revealed until quite late in the game but luckily the story does a good job of keeping the player and Batman busy until then.
I've always loved the humour present in the Lego games and thanks to some voice acting in this game the comedy is taken to a new level. The relationship between Batman and Superman is excellently done and the jokes are stellar, any fan of the DC universe will find it impossible not to fall in love with this game's playful take on the rivalry between the two greatest superheroes in comics. Every character add their own humourous aspects brilliantly to the game such as Lex Luthor's stern annoyance in contrast to The Joker's insane hilarity.
This scene wouldn't have been quite so kid-friendly in 'The Dark Knight'.

Let me make one thing clear first of all. This is not Nolan’s Batman. The tone of ‘Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes’ is very much in the style of Burton’s films and really benefits because of it. Burton’s stylised vision of Gotham was unshackled from the restraints of reality present in Nolan’s universe, for a game that involves Lego characters punching each other into pieces the last thing you’re going to need is realism. The game’s world is so inspired by Burton’s universe that it utilises Danny Elfman’s score as well as Burton’s films’ design of things such as the Batwing and Batmobile.
The use of music from Danny Elfman’s score is genius; it really gives a classic feel to the playing of Batman in this game as well as reminding you of that excellent music. A great surprise I found was that John Williams’ ‘Superman: The Movie’ score is also present here when playing as Superman. The first time the player has the ability to play as Superman in a free roaming capacity the music kicks in upon taking flight and gives a majestic and very “Superman” feel to playing as the man of steel.
Whilst this game is referred to as “DC Superheroes” that is not entirely accurate. This is first and foremost a Lego BATMAN game, the caped crusader and Robin are featured solely for most of the game’s levels and the story revolves around them. Superman is the next big character in this game as he features heavily in the middle of the story and again in the last third. The rest of the Justice League however does not make an appearance until the last two missions, meaning the player really only has an opportunity to use them to their potential during the game’s freeplay mode.
There is much more to be done after the conclusion of the single player campaign in the game. Once it is finished the player has the entirety of Gotham to explore and stop criminals from doing ill. It is in this arena where the player unlocks additional characters, this is a change from previous Lego games where the player is able to purchase them straight from their headquarters, in ‘Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes’ the player has to find and defeat each villain in order to acquire them for personal play.
You'll play primarily as Batman, Robin or Superman in single player.

Fans of DC and especially Batman will find tons of great references to delight them, things only before present in comics are given shout-outs in this game, stories such as ‘The Long Halloween’ and even other Batman games such as ‘Arkham City’ are slyly referenced by the characters of the game. It is a great experience being given the ability to explore Gotham City completely, the Gotham from Tim Burton’s world has always been larger than life and incredibly stylised, now finally fans are able to patrol its streets as Batman whilst driving an amazing Batmobile. The sheer variety of unlockable characters in the game is excellent, little known characters from Batman stories appear in roles as villains from around the city or pop up during the single player campaign, the attention to detail that allows each character their own unique abilities is proof that is a game made by fans for the fans.
The multiplayer in Lego games has always been amazing fun and here is no different, the game is undoubtedly enriched when you play along with a human companion. The game is designed with puzzles that need to be solved using more than one character and although you can switch between them when playing solo, it does not beat the experience of co-operation between two players navigating the game and coming up with solutions to the problems they face.
"When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die". Oh Lego Bane, you so crazy!

Sometimes the game will put you in an area that will have an obstacle you must overcome where the solution is so opaque that you will spend far too long trying to work out and could potentially lose interest in the game. I found myself in this situation quite a few times in the game, the root of the problem really is just poor design in some aspects, the solution is there alright but it isn't going to become readily available to the average player even after spending an irritating amount of time working on it. Whilst a challenge in a game is a great thing to have, and I'm not complaining simply because of difficulty, to have these present in a game that is primarily for kids is perhaps not the wisest decision given that they are likely to have much less patience with frustrating areas than other demographics.
At this point in the Lego game series it’s fair to say that the series does not possess the same magic and originality it once had with its first Star Wars games. However the games can still deliver a fun, relaxing experience and a great adaption of its source material. There’s plenty enjoyment to be had when playing solo but the real potential of this game is evident in its brilliant multiplayer.

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