Review: Holy plastic bricks Batman!
It wasn't long ago that I would have scoffed at the idea of a Lego-branded video game. Then came Lego Star Wars and I was left speechless. I picked it up because it was a way to get my wife to play games ? specifically a Star Wars game ? with me. I never thought that I would become addicted to the charm and gameplay that Traveler's Tales packed into the game.
It has been almost five years since that initial release we have seen two more Star Wars titles, two Indiana Jones games, Lego Rock Band, and Lego Batman. Needless to say, some of the infatuation has worn off by now. There is still a lot of life left in these games and, in honor of the upcoming Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and the recently announced Lego Star Wars III, we will look back at 2008's Lego Batman.
If you have played any of the other Lego platform games, then the gameplay in Lego Batman will instantly feel familiar to you. The action is very straightforward and the control scheme makes the game very easy to pick up and play, even for the most novice of game players. Each of the playable characters have their own advantages and special skills that provides for a small variety to the gameplay while also encouraging you to go back and repeat a level using other characters so that you can access some areas that are impossible to reach with the story characters.
Unlike the Star Wars and Indiana Jones games, Lego Batman treats us to an original, albeit simple, story. Kicking off with a massive escape from Arkham Asylum, the story unfolds from the point of view of both the Heroes and the Villains. Encompassing thirty levels, 15 for each faction, the story mode on its own would make an excellent game. The villains that have broken out of Arkham make up a literal who's who of Batman's rogues gallery. That roster goes deep, too. Well beyond the expected Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, and Catwoman. In fact, there are a couple of them, like Moth Man and Man-Bat, that will have some people asking, ?Who??
Like with the other Lego-branded platform titles, there are tons of extras to track down and unlock and getting to that elusive 100% completion will require you to play through the game a couple of times. As I mentioned before, the game is setup that you have to go back and play the levels a second (and third, maybe even a fourth) time as subsequent trips through the level allow you to bring in characters with unique powers that will allow you to access restricted parts of the level and some of the collectible pieces.
Unfortunately, the same problems that plagued the Star Wars and Indiana Jones releases are also present in Lego Batman. The co-op experience, which is really the way to experience the game, is marred with a confining camera that tethers the two on-screen characters together. For most of the game, this isn't an issue. However, when one character is able to reach a remote ledge and the other isn't? let's just say that frustration levels can rise rapidly. There is also the occasional ledge or platform that is tough to identify and can lead to several cheap deaths before you pick up on the issue, especially when the game brings you back to life on the edge of said ledge or platform and you slide right back off again. Don't let these issues turn you off, though. They are (usually) easy to overlook so that you can enjoy the meat of the game.