Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on a PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions
Lego games continue to dominate the market, and a new batch seems to come out every year. 2014 already saw a Lego adaption of The Hobbit and a game based on The Lego Movie, but another run on the Batman series was needed as well. Is Lego Batman 3 worth grabbing, or should they have stopped at two Lego games that year?
After capturing members of the various Lantern Corps, Brainiac sets his sights on Earth. He has two goals: capture the Green Lantern and use all of the Lantern Corps powers to shrink Earth so he can add it to his collection of planets. The Justice League aren’t having any of this and, with some unenthusiastic help from various villains, get together to stop Brainiac.
It’s a silly plot that manages to bring humor and keep me guessing long enough to get me to the ending. The characters are funny, some of the levels are exciting, and Lego Batman 3 does a much better job than its predecessor at actually using the Justice League. Unlike the last two Lego Batman games, a really good chunk of characters are featured in the story. Flash, Cyborg, and Solomon Grundy are all entertaining highlights that weren’t given the time of day before. Lego Batman 3’s story really works here.
Like most Lego games, Lego Batman 3 is a simple 3D platformer/brawler. I could attack with the square button, or hold it down to use ranged attacks, if the character I was playing had any. Some characters also had a second ability by holding down the circle button, though most of these abilities are made for puzzle solving rather than fighting. The finishers system from Lego Batman 2 has been removed, which seems like a strange decision considering it made the combat deeper than your usual Lego game. Characters will preform finishers randomly, similar to Lego Marvel Super Heroes (though at a reduced rate which is probably for the best), but it’s a shame to see the minor risk/reward system get cut.
While each character uses those same basic controls, each character also feels joyfully unique thanks to little touches in their animations. Sure there may be no real difference in playing Alfred or Lex Luthor when it comes to combat, but it’s fun watching Alfred use his plate as a combat weapon. Yet when it comes to puzzles, there’s plenty of variety between characters. Each character has different abilities to solve puzzles. Superman has his heat vision, The Flash can use special speed building points, and Solomon Grundy can dig underground to pull out objects. Similar to past Lego Batman games, Batman and Robin (along with a few other characters) can change costumes to change their abilities. It has been made much easier this time, as all I needed to do to change costumes was hold down triangle and pick what I wanted. No more backtracking necessary.
Puzzles, combat, and boss fights are never difficult and there’s basically zero cost for failure outside of losing a few studs. I never felt frustrated through the game, but there was the occasional moment of being annoyed that I knew how to solve a puzzle and had to repeat an action several times to continue. Still, there are some occasional exciting sections too. Some of the boss fights are far more exciting than I would have expected from a Lego game, and occasionally the game breaks into a Defender-styled shooter to mix things up in an interesting way.
Lego Batman 3 also has the usual Lego swarm of collectables, including hundreds of gold bricks, unlockable characters, minikits, and red bricks. All levels can be replayed with any character and features special hidden areas that can’t be accessed in your first run-through. In an interesting move, completing the story of Lego Batman 3 also unlocks a wealth of new content. The biggest is the explorable worlds: each of the seven Lantern Corp planets, along with the Moon, the Hall of Justice, the Justice League Watchtower, and the Batcave are available for you to play around in. Each area has sidequests and collectables of its own, leading for a surprisingly fun and meaty amount of post-game content. There’s also a VR challenge room, which has everything from combat areans, platforming challenges, races, and a Geometry Wars styled twin stick shooter.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is bigger and better than Lego Batman 2 in every way. It doesn’t do anything completely new for the Lego formula, but it does enough to perfect it. The missions are fun, the world is interesting to explore, the story is funny and a treat to both fans and non-fans of the DC Universe, and it’s just an overall interesting game.