LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PS3, Wii, PS Vita, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
Price: $49.99 – Available Here
LEGO Batman was one of the highest selling LEGO games and for good reason too. Not for the obvious reason that it was Batman, but it actually had an all new original story too. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes continues the tradition of Batman breaking molds by introducing actual voice acting as well as fitting it into the larger DC Universe with the other Justice Leaguers. So that’s what the game has bringing to the table. Is it enough? Can it live up to it’s predecessor or does it go the way of oh so many Robins?
The story this time around finds Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor both vying for “Man of the Year”, seeing as it is being held in Gotham however players will probably know which way it will swing. The awards are prematurely broken up however when Joker opts for writing himself in the vote. This ultimately however allows Lex and Joker to become acquainted, which leads into the main plot.
As with any time super-villains team up, this spells disaster for pretty much everyone, which is why, even though the story is greatly Batman-centric, the other heroes show up to help out. The plot has some pretty good heft, weighing in at 15 levels, making up for the fact that there is no villain campaign this time around. Every level starts out with a news report to flesh out not only what’s going on in the story like a mini-recap, but also to provide a small glimpse at how the city is responding to everything going on while Batman is busy.
The story is unfortunately almost entirely Lex and Joker though, not that there’s anything wrong with the characters, but the other villains get pretty sidelined where one of the strengths in the first game was the variety in the stories. That said the Lex/Joker story is very tight and well written, providing an adequate crossover opportunity without feeling forced. Though players should stay through the credits to see where the series might go from here.
The LEGO games are a constant evolution, trying out new concepts and carrying over the best into future titles. Keeping with the standard drop-in/drop-out gameplay other features from previous games are LEGO Star Wars: C lone Wars’ gold LEGO objects that can only be destroyed with lasers and LEGO Harry Potter’s water spraying, but the best parts are the new things for this game. Instead of the level selections in the hub, there is a much more versatile hub map which includes not only the levels, but every other unlockable in the game too. This makes it a lot easier on players in the long run, so there is less need to go a look up where anything is the means are already provided, which make sense since his is Batman. Another new addition is the save/checkpoint feature. Now players need not have to worry about restarting an entire level should they have to stop midway through, getting to a checkpoint to save and quit they can theoretically pick up at the checkpoint, but it didn’t exactly work all of the time.
There is one aspect that is pretty frustrating this time around though. The hub doesn’t actually become Free Play until after completing the story. While this may seem to be a minor issue, it severely limits the hub until getting the story finished. There are only about 4 of the 20 Red Brick available to get before the story finishes, which can be frustrating for those that like to gradually earn them between levels. The game doesn’t really even say this is the case either, until finding out after the last level that it is unlocked. This is a large departure from previous LEGO games and hopefully it goes back to how it used to be as not being able to use unlocked characters in the hub world until after the story ends up sectioning the game into the story, then the hub world making it feel smaller in scope than it should.
As with the last LEGO Batman, the main focus of Batman and Robin is that they can switch into different suits that allow them to tackle different tasks balancing them better against their foes. This time around Batman and Robin each have 4 suits that utilize different abilities. Batman can have a Bat Suit, Electricity Suit, Power Suit, and Sensor Suit, while Robin has an Acrobatic Suit, Freeze Suit, Hazard Suit, and Magnetic Suit. These are all very important in the story missions to get past everything, but when it comes to Free Play several of the suits can be entirely replaced by other characters, which saves time on having to go change suits constantly, but I’m torn between if all of these suits should have been replaceable through unlockable characters. On one hand it would make it easier than having to find the suit you need, but on the other you don’t really want to end up nerfing Batman in his own game.
In terms of other abilities for the other characters, there is a variety, but it somewhat dwindles down to either objects only one character can open or blocks only one character can build with, which is kind of a let down. That and different characters who would seem to be pretty powerful are somewhat useless or missing somewhat expected powers. Sinestro should be just as powerful as Green Lantern, but there are no yellow objects just for him to utilize limiting him solely to flight. Martian Manhunter can’t turn invisible in the game, which is a real let down for fans of the character as Batman is capable of it with one of his suits, while Martian Manhunter can’t and it’s a pretty stand power for him. Though Aquaman isn’t nearly as useless in the game as people like to joke about him being in general.
As stated before, LEGO Batman 2 actually has voice acting, which is something many people would probably worry about because it changes the formula that’s been working so well so far. But, the voice acting really does work with the game as it isn’t over done and is almost entirely done solely in cutscenes. It allows for the game to actually have more jokes than the standard slapstick or prop-centric humor of the previous games. Probably one of the better ones being a jab at Batman: Arkham City, which would have been impossible without dialogue. Though Alfred constantly butting in at the beginning with every tutorial can get really old, really fast.
Music in the game is the solid Batman score that fans have come to recognize and enjoy, but it isn’t the only recognizable music in the game. As with the addition of Superman when players start soaring with him in the hub, players will be greeted to the John William’s original Superman score. It is both a pleasant surprise and greatly welcome, as players go traversing the level, but it is entirely dependent on being Superman, so don’t go flying around as Man-Bat hoping to hear it.
Making a game entirely out of LEGO continues to look as good as it always has. LEGO Batman 2 does have a gritty feel than other LEGO games, but that is generally the style of Batman himself. With so many more characters from the other DC properties they have done an amazing job at making everyone look enough like themselves that as long as you’re moderately versed in DC at all, you can tell who characters are simply by how they look and not needing to be told. This is also attributed to the characters being styled on the most well known versions of the characters.
Besides characters, the LEGO models for the vehicles are also well done and have a pretty wide range. There is a large selection of boats, planes, and motor vehicles, with the last five of each being the mini-kits players unlock in the levels. The vehicles in the game range from some pretty awesome VTOLs to the more silly, like Mr. Freeze’s Iceberg boat and Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet. In all a crazy range of things to choose from.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a good game, but it does have a few problems that ultimately make the experience not as fun as it could have been. It seems like a pretty poor decision to limit the hub world until the story is actually over, especially when every collectible is visible through scanning the map, so that they end up teasing at all the things you can’t get yet. It is also nice to see the ability to save and quit at checkpoints in story levels, though it would be nice if they worked all of the time. Those things aside, it is still and good game and a LEGO one at that, so it’s good to let the young audience have at it, which is why I give LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes