If it's crap ... We'll tell you
This is a rather late review, due to other events and a dollop of laziness; I meant to post this review over a week ago. But, with the weekend as it is, and audiences focussing heavily on all things related to Batman, it seems a good time to post it up. And besides that, this is a LEGO game that is genuinely worth taking a look at, so let's start things off.
If you have played any of the previous titles released by Traveller's Tales such as Harry Potter or Star Wars, you'll know the style of gameplay to expect. For this release, the story is set on Gotham and follows the adventures of Batman and Robin primarily. The Joker invades the Man of the Year ceremony at which Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor are the nominees, and brings his characteristic chaos to the proceedings. The Dynamic Duo hunts him down and eventually sends him to Arkham Asylum. However, Luthor has his own plans in motion as he breaks out the Joker with a Deconstructor, and as they escape, he uses the weapon to release all the imprisoned villains back onto the streets of Gotham. Batman and Robin must discover what Lex Luthor's grand plan is, while tracking down the loose inmates that are laying havoc upon the City.
So the story follows a pretty good structure, but what's most interesting here are the elements that are brought together. It's hard to decide what Batman influences this world, because in reality it takes hints from many films and TV shows. From the oddball madness of the 60's the cinematic score of Tim Burton's original film, to the dark undertones of the animated Batman series of the early 90's. The game blends all the best parts together to create something that is new, but feels very welcoming and familiar. This goes for aspects such as the voice acting too, they're not the voices you recognise, but there's no doubting which voice is which. Once again it's different, but instantly relatable.
The gameplay itself follows the standard LEGO model - the world that you can interact with is constructed of bricks, you can either break these objects to collect studs as the game's version of money, or use the LEGO to progress through the level. This can go from something as simple as making a grapple point for Batman, or finding parts to repair a helicopter. The game focuses heavily on collecting throughout, as well as the puzzle mechanism, of which you must solve to make it to the next stage of the level. So far, so expected.
But what brings this to a much more enjoyable level is the abilities. Batman and Robin both can acquire new costumes, each with a specific ability. As examples, Batman can use these to either blow up silver LEGO blocks, or sneak past sensors. Robin's abilities include the likes of magnetic movement, and an Acrobat costume to help him reach areas that would otherwise be out of reach. Changing into the new costumes are done on holopad-style blocks that you encounter through the levels, and play directly into solving the puzzles. It's much more structured than the rather weak magic abilities from Harry Potter, since you can only perform the given task once you have the right costume.
The levels play out on a storyline, but the game also features a wide expansive city to explore. You can explore at any time in between levels, and includes everything from sub-boss battles, vehicles to purchase, and tonnes of secrets to find. Seriously, I played this for almost a solid week and still didn't discover everything that was available. And speaking of characters, this game boasts an immense selection to either fight, or earn to play as. All the major heroes and villains from DC are present, with more focus on the Batman universe, but plenty more to appeal to even the most cynical comic fan. And rather than make them generic, each has their own special powers that are similar to the ones in the costumes. The most prominent character you'll find is Superman, who becomes playable towards the final third of the story mode. And rather than making the critical error of "just having him fly" he is given heat vision and ice breath that are critical in some missions. However, when they play the original Superman theme every time you fly, you can't help but get a rush of nostalgia and excitement.
There really is so much to mention here that is worthy of points towards the game. The voicework and cutscenes are great, I love the gritty-yet-comical visual style to the city, it's creative in developing the puzzles and layouts to the levels, the open world is fun to browse around, there's always a secret character to find or other collectables, and it all feels like a world that a lot of love and attention went into. You even get the legendary vehicles such as the Batwing and Batmobile. Even Robin is pretty cool and.... dare I say it, this is the first time Superman has been incorporated well into a videogame? The flying is definitely way more manageable, though not as direct as it could be.
To go into the bad points, if you have played all the LEGO series games, you may find a lot of what is on offer a bit repetitive, since it does bring across the exact same core elements. And even though I didn't find everything during my 5-dayplaythrough, I was nearing 100% completion, so it's not terribly long either. A large portion is simple back-tracking to find stuff you missed out, and since there's no real side effect to dying, you don't feel cautious in the battles. I did run across one or two glitches too, boss battles in the city where the enemy wouldn't appear, slightly obtrusive invisible walls, that kind of stuff. Nothing that was serious to be honest. If you are getting this for you nephew or younger brother as well, it might be quite a tricky game for them. Luckily there drop-in co op play, so you will be able to help them along.
All said though, I really had fun with this, a lot more fun than I was expecting. Sure, it's a hoarding game at heart like all Tt LEGO titles, but this one brings a great blend of action, story, and simple fun that is hard to put down. And it is a wonderful representation of the Batman universe, with tonnes of visual hints that will appeal to every single fan. If this is your first LEGO game, it's the perfect entry point; I'll give this a Low Full Price. If you see it in a sale, snap it up straight away.
Thanks for reading! ^__^