Gods Among LEGOs
LEGO games are always exactly what they say on the package: some popular culture topic in the form of LEGOs. The safe bet, if you will. You can go into the store and pick up any one of the random LEGO titles and know exactly what to expect. But, with a few exceptions, they have typically been above average experiences, keeping you gladly spending hours collecting every last little thing.
Of course, it has not hurt that LEGO has picked up some of the most popular and culturally significant franchises out there: Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones, and they’re even taking their turn with Lord of the Rings soon. Nevertheless, there is one property that surprised everyone: LEGO Batman. Was it the popularity of Arkham Asylum that helped LEGO Batman sell so many copies? It’s possible.
However, in a market where we need to be stimulated constantly by evolution, how can a sequel in an aging formula possibly help bring new excitement and, more importantly, innovation? You bring in the greatest super hero ever invented, that’s how. LEGO Batman 2 needed a Superman.
Unfortunately, as many longtime Superman fans know, it was going to take a miracle to make the world’s greatest hero fun to play. He has yet to have a game on his own in which all of his numerous abilities are enjoyably used, after all. Among other things, though, it is first important that the developers be praised for not only including Superman in a functional way, but for making his adventure the most fun I have had with a game this year.
But I’m getting ahead of myself a little with the praise for Superman. This is, after all, a Batman game. You are quickly reminded of this every time you play as Superman and just go off flying while your co-op partner sits somewhere unable to progress without assistance. That will get you on the outs with your significant other every time.
The game kicks off with Gotham City hosting the annual Man of the Year award. Whoever thought it was a good idea to host an event where rich people gather in the most crime-laden city in the world should probably rethink their planning abilities.
In any event, the first thing longtime fans of the LEGO games will notice is that our LEGOs are finally talking. This isn’t just a few grunts and hmphs, or various other sound effects common with LEGO games; this is a fully voice acted game. Now, I have to say that I was more than impressed with the voice actors involved with LEGO Batman 2—big props to Clancy Brown for returning as Lex Luthor. While, yes, it can take a moment or two to get used to some of the voicing, it’s something you’ll get over quickly and soon find quite enjoyable.
Back to the story, though. The Man of the Year is Bruce Wayne, of course. But before he can accept his award, Joker interrupts the ceremony like a traditional Gotham villain, spouting cheesy punch lines while demanding money. In fact, Joker brought along some fan favorites for this particular heist—Two-Face, Riddler, and Harley Quinn, to name a few.
Batman comes along and eventually captures Joker, but not before an evil plan of Lex Luthor’s begins to take shape. After a quick breakout of Arkham Asylum, we have Batman, Superman, and Robin using all of their abilities and newfound gadgets to take on Lex and Joker in whatever way they can.
This is where familiarity plays a huge part. Simply put, if you have played a LEGO game ever, you’ll surely be familiar with the concept of controlling the super heroes. Now, the addition of Superman creates a level of ignorance in the A.I., which is both very familiar and at times completely new. For instance, sometimes Superman can just fly on through a level simply doing the things that Batman and Robin occasionally have to have special suits for. It is all fine and good that Superman does not have a problem, but when you need Batman at the end of a level to blow something up, you often discover he is stuck on a balancing beam because you did not blow out the fire for him. And this can be a real pain.
This brings me to my complaints with the title. You can get yourself stuck—like really stuck—in this game, whether it’s getting Batman wedged between a rock and a hard place (literally) or the Batmobile being stuck on a guard railing. Granted, you can get out of the Batmobile, but it’s difficult at times to switch characters when they are stuck.
Now, the LEGO games generally tend to be aimed at kids, but LEGO Batman 2 can be difficult no matter your age. While I am not faulting the game for not holding back on the difficulty, maybe an option of selecting difficulty for younger audiences would help maintain a growing fan base.
Outside of these quibbles, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a beautiful game. Gotham City is bright and colorful with its own stylized dark and moody colors. The villains and super heroes all seem to fit as well. While Batman is known for those dark and brooding colors, Superman is not, but never once do you look at Supes and say he is out of place. Mixed with lavish backgrounds and some of the better texture effects I’ve seen, this is among the best-looking games so far this year, even if it is “just a LEGO game.”
With everything from inside jokes and even classic LEGO-style jokes to some of the greatest heroes ever created as functioning playable characters, LEGO Batman 2 is a solid experience for anyone who has ever been a fan of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, or any of the other 60+ playable characters. Simply put, LEGO Batman 2 has restored my faith in the ability for a game with these larger-than-life super heroes to be fun and entertaining without resorting to making them evil or just making them punch each other a lot.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
Smooth, bright, and overall appealing. Fans of the series will immediately fall in love. 4.0 Control
It’s what you’d expect from a LEGO game. 4.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice acting is hit or miss for fans of Batman, but everyone does an exceptional job making the roles their own. 4.0 Play Value
Adding an open world brings tons of hours of content, even if it is just flying around the environment. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best