LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes - His and Hers Review
His review with Ian Abbott
Two shifts have occurred within the world of Lego. The first is a swing comparable to when silent movies were ousted by the talkies as Traveller’s Tales (Tt Games) have introduced intelligible human vocals for their characters with the second being that they have created an open world that is ready to be kicked to bricks and collect yourself silly with. The classic gaming formula of explore and collect with a light and humorous sense of adventure that Tt Games have developed on their previous iterations is on display again and is testament to the strength of their original idea that it is still ploughing new depths of gaming experience seven years after their first title.
With a bitter Lex Luthor losing out to Bruce Wayne on a “Best Man” award, The Joker enters the ensuing fray, causing a big bag of havoc, it’s up to our man in black to put Mr J back in Arkham Asylum. However little Lex is still smarting and decides to use his ‘Deconstructor’ to bust out every enemy inmate, letting them takeover and terrorise the city. Luthor and The Joker then tag team with the ultimate aim of using gassing the population into voting for Luthor in the forthcoming presidential race. Heroes mobilise.
With a playable main cast of the Bat or his red breasted ally I progressed through the early linear chapters in the finely replicated in size, scale and detail, Arkham City whilst being introduced to a feast of alternative life enhancements (Robin with his Hazard Cannon and Batman with his Power Suit) which enabled the miniature puzzle sequences to be conquered with relative ease. However, as the story gradually unfolds via the cut scenes at the beginning and end of each of the later chapters, the joy of the new vocal ability and new characters starts to sing. Introducing Superman.
The innocence of The Big S’s intentions and his natural do-gooder instinct are the perfect foils to the ever smouldering rage and animosity that Bats feels against a genuine super hero with genuine super powers (unlike himself who is just rich with lots of executive toys and a fancy suit) and is hilarious to watch. Robin, a giant Superman fanboy, fauns and heralds his every arrival and constantly pleads “Should we call Superman?” visibly irking Batman who’s meant to be the star turn in proceedings which is pleasing to see and one of the many reasons which raises this game to genuine super hero status. Unlocking an entire banquet of Justice League characters including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg and Sinestro (all with different abilities that will enable you to reach different parts of the city) almost at the end of the game ensures you’ll be straight back into the open world of freeplay with these new characters as well as the enemies you’ve smited and purchased along the way, all helping to build and discover those red and golden bricks aiming for the illusive 100% completion. Bringing together both The Joker and Lex Luthor is an interesting premise; double the baddies, double the goodies and this essentially means double the game time. This combining of worlds could serve future Lego titles well or may pave the way for other computer games developed to adopt the model. Nathan Drake and Lara Croft or Professor Genki and Wario?
With a double bill of world class original cinematic scores and cues from the original Batman and Batman Returns by Danny Elfman and the main theme from Superman and the numerous sequels by John Williams almost permanently present in the back and foregrounds of the ears, the score creates a dynamic and heroic playing experience.
For the completionist in me, I didn’t get much change out of 25 hours in attempting to collect every dang thing in the city, but could have romped home at a little under 10 hours if I had just crashed through the chapters. But that would miss the Lego boat because the there is much bliss to be derived from slowly uncovering the city and its worldly delights. The charm of collecting the 50 characters, like they’re in a sticker book or finding stud multipliers to take your total into the realm of 8 figures is delightful. There are comic book details and filmic touches laced throughout the game including riding a gorilla as a female character to the top of Wayne Tower as a tip of the cap to our favourite King of Kong.
There are simply no faults in this game - it is a wondrous and charming adventure that stays true the Lego worlds that Traveller’s Tales Games have consistently developed and have consequently made a lot of people very happy by playing them. There can be no higher praise.
Her Review with Tracey McGarrigan
As collaborations go, the combined forces of Traveller’s Tales Games, Warner Bros., LEGO and DC Comics are heroically brilliant. With a soaring original film score soundtrack, a gigantic brick city landscape enhanced with some masterful level design plus some super powerful vocal performances bringing to life an impressive crusader cast, I initially felt I’d need super-human willpower to not become addicted to the serious studding on offer.
Without dwelling on the ludicrous reasons why broody rich bachelors Bruce Wayne or Lex Luthor would ever be nominated for a ‘Man of the Year’ award, the game’s opening ceremony is rudely interrupted with exploding custard pies as The Joker decides he should be man of the year, fawning over his own image on the big screen and generally causing cheeky chaos. Easing fans back into the mode of colourful brick bashing and stud collecting is swift. Following a golden line of LEGO studs around the auditorium, destroying a few tables here, a few chairs there, rebuilding items to move through the level and pulling levers; it’s instant, classic Tt Games LEGO love with cartoony violence and funny moments woven throughout. Pootling around picking up studs or karate chopping a few easy villains is great family fun. Nothing prepared me though for the massive spread of the City waiting outside. The most exciting, ambitiously large play area ever created by Tt Games, the city is majestic with its neon lit advertising billboards nestled outside gothic municipal buildings and skyscrapers with air conditioning veins running across town. Yes, this is Gotham so expect varying concrete shades of black and grey but there is a lot more colour and joy injected than in any of the movie or other game versions of Batman’s hometown.
After a cunning Lex Luthor breaks The Joker and all his equally quirky inmates (Two-Face, Poison Ivy, The Penguin, Sandman, just to name a few in the massive list) out of jail as part of his grand scheme to become the President, it’s down to the monotone muttering black bat to try and swiftly haul them all back to Arkham Asylum. In a short but tightly scripted plot, it quickly becomes apparent (mainly because poor old Robin keeps cheerfully suggesting it) that the grumpy Gotham Chiroptera wannabe must join forces with his Justice League colleagues to save the day. Enter the perfectly haired, handsome Superman, The Green Lantern, Cyclops, WonderWoman and The Flash in their stubby LEGO finery, playing out their wholesome superhero roles with pride alongside a relenting Batman. Lots of this juxtaposition is played for laughs, Robin is especially slapstick which players of previous LEGO titles will be expecting but as this is DC territory, there is a Hollywood machoism that makes it feel just a tad more grown up. Giving the characters vocal abilities (with the crème de la crème of videogame talent on the billing including Brian Bloom, Troy Baker, Laura Bailey and Nolan North) brings a whole new depth to play whilst having a brand new story rather than a reworking of the films or comic scripts also means there is loads of appeal for adult fans too as well as newcomers to the series who should find it accessible and brilliantly entertaining.
The Batcave is full of swanky vehicles to unlock over time and happily don’t come with an instruction manual of which block goes where. From here I could travel across the map to Gotham City Zoo, Wayne Towers or Arkham Asylum or get on my chunky feet to explore, rescuing citizens or completing challenges for those elusive golden bricks. Vehicles are cool I suppose but it’s the outfits that really bring variety to the game. Dotted around the city are Batpads where the pointy eared superhero or the charming boy Robin can change into a new line of lycra wear including an electricity suit or the acrobat suit where Robin can twizzle up special areas or transform into a small hamster ball. Swapping and running to and fro is a huge part of the game that just stays on the right side of the boredom fence. This is mainly because of the layout of levels. Whether infiltrating ACME chemical plant or Lex Luthor’s HQ (Superman and Batman are asked for their names at reception before my favourite scene of the whole game that has the duo in a lift whilst the Superman theme pings merrily in the background), the building scenes are massive labyrinths with mega studdage on offer. Working through methodically, the pace of the indoor levels were broken up with some fabulous speedy sequences; chasing or being chased by a giant robot around a city, moving through a high security laboratory hidden within a truck, riding Superman’s cape slipstream shooting down planes in the sky – it’s thrilling as the camera whips around playing with perspective and depth.
As Ian rightly says, the freeplay options after completing the main story offers many more happy hours of play with Jokers theme park featuring all the fun of the fair as a bonus – watching Batman ride the Teacups genuinely made me laugh out loud as it’s ridiculously quaint and comic. Transforming the DC characters and their movie aesthetic world into LEGO is inspired. Traveller’s Tales have delivered a massive game, enhanced with voice and heroic in its blockbuster aim to be super.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is out now for Xbox360, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS and PC.