Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Brother Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
Available On: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Mobile, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PC. There may be differences between versions.
The Lego series will probably not be happy until it has games in every single conceivable IP. 2008’s Lego Batman was probably one of the first games when people got a little fatigued of the Lego formula. So can Lego Batman 2 help alleviate this fatigue, or does the game drag the hero down?
Featuring voice acting for the first time in the Lego series, Lego Batman 2 has a relatively simple story to tell. After Lex Luthor becomes upset at losing the Man of the Year award to Bruce Wayne, he teams up with The Joker to try and win the election to become President of the United States. Of course, Batman smells foul play and him and Robin team up with Superman to try and stop the two. It’s simple and goofy, the voice actors are surprisingly competent, and its got a few chuckles in it. That said, in a game named “DC Super Heroes” that is supposed to focus on the Justice League, the Justice League is absent for the vast majority of the game. It isn’t until the 14th level (out of 15) where they finally show up. I’m also a little disappointed that more villains weren’t utilized: after a brief opening with a few of Batman’s greatest foes, and a very brief trip to a Scarecrow-run Arkham Asylum, the game entirely focuses on Joker and Lex Luthor.
Being one of the first Lego games to feature a full open world rather than just a hub world, Lego Batman 2 does things right by making sure there’s plenty to do in its version of Gotham City. As more of the city becomes available to explore, the game hides plenty of collectables, characters, and vehicles in every nook and cranny. Finding the villains was probably the most interesting of the bunch: a breakout at Arkham means the streets of Gotham are littered with high-profile villains. Unlike past Lego games where you only need to find the characters and have enough money to buy them, here I also needed to engage in fights against the villains. Most of them are very easy, but they do a good job showing off the villain’s power before I drop the money on them.
Each of the game’s 15 levels features Batman and at least one other character having to solve various puzzles, platforming segments, and fight enemies. Since Batman and Robin are lacking in super powers, the two of them can find and use suits that give them various new tools to use. One suit may allow Batman to absorb electricity, another lets Robin freeze waterfalls, while a third lets Batman shoot missiles to destroy silver Lego objects. Other characters don’t need suits and have their own special abilities. Cyborg and Superman both can use lasers to melt gold bricks, Green Lantern can build with green bricks, while only Joker can open up special presents. Revisiting each level after I finished it to find new hidden secrets with characters I didn’t have before was a must.
Lego Batman 2 also features what is probably the deepest combat in the Lego games, though it’s still pretty simple and easy. As usual, the basic attack button will be smashed a lot and the characters will preform their own combos that will destroy most the enemies in the way. Some characters have ranged attacks that can be used by holding down a button and highlighting enemies or environmental objects. Another button allowed me to grapple enemies and throw them. The most interesting mechanic comes in the form of finisher attacks though. By racking up combos I could preform finisher attacks on enemies. The higher the combo the more studs they dropped when I used the special attack. It’s a neat system that I would like to see more Lego games adopt as it adds a bit of risk/reward to a game with nearly no risk otherwise. There’s also at least one boss fight per chapter, but these are mostly puzzle affairs.
Occasionally things are broken up by an on-rails driving or flying level. These levels usually just involve either one of Batman’s many vehicles, or sometimes as Superman as he flies, moving on a set path while I shot at enemies or items along the way. They’re a fun break and often entertaining to watch, but they’re not anything new or amazing.
Lego Batman 2’s biggest shortcoming actually comes from the length of its levels. Some of the game’s levels seem to drag on and on, well past what is needed. Sometimes I had to repeat a puzzle several times for no real discernible reason, and I often had to take long winding paths to reach and re-reach the same points over and over again. I also had a problem with the partner AI, who seemed to be determined to be as dumb as the Lego bricks they were made out of. Often I watched as they threw themselves off ledges, got stuck on objects, and even blocked lasers/missiles/other objects that I needed to keep unblocked. If they didn’t just respawn right where I left them I probably would have been more upset at this.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes does successfully keep the Lego games fresh with little tweaks and the big open world. While the dragging levels and stupid AI hurt, there was more than enough to keep me playing with these toys. Lego Batman 2 would be enjoyed by anyone who generally likes the Lego games, and anyone with a love of the DC universe.