Traveller’s Tales long-running Lego franchise has had its ups and downs. Over the years the Lego-branded video games have followed the same basic formula, for better or for worse. With Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes, Traveller’s Tales decided to take their Lego games to the next level. Not only would the developer be including voice acting for the first time in franchise history, but they’d also be introducing a sandbox world for players to explore. Those factors, combined with the series’ trademark platforming and humor, make Lego Batman 2 one of the most enjoyable Lego adventures we’ve ever embarked on.
One of the original Lego Batman’s major deficiencies was in the narrative. Without a concrete storyline to parody, many of the game’s jokes fell flat, and the overarching plot lacked any sort of importance. With Lego Batman 2, not only does Traveller’s Tales up the ante when it comes to the script writing, but the inclusion of voice acting elevates the game to a whole new level. While Clancy Brown is the only notable actor to return to a character (Lex Luthor), the rest of the cast does a rather admirable job bringing their respective heroes and villains to life. The pantomime jokes are replaced with punchy one-liners, and there’s a lot of solid (if at times childish) humor throughout the game. Lego Batman 2’s story also draws inspiration from a few different comic book storylines to great effect, and gives players something that the Lego games have previously been missing: a wholly original story that’s both entertaining and engrossing.
"Traveller’s Tales took some risks with this entry in the series, and for the most part, they all pay off."
There isn’t much different about the core mechanics in Lego Batman 2. Players will roam around a given level, smashing bricks, collecting coins, solving small environmental puzzles, and occasionally facing off against a boss. While most of the story revolves around Batman and Robin teaming up to stop the Joker and Lex Luthor from running the world, a few guest appearances from other DC heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash change things up a bit. Unfortunately, Superman is the only other hero you’ll get to play as until the final few chapters of the game. While Superman does offer almost all of the powers and abilities the other heroes do in one convenient package, it would have been nice to have access to the Justice League roster for some variety. That said, once the game’s main story is complete, you can replay any portion with any set of heroes. Just don’t expect to get too far without Batman or Robin, as they are required to solve most of the game’s environmental puzzles.
Whether you play with a friend or not, Lego Batman 2 makes good use out of whatever protagonists you have at your disposal. Though Batman and Robin don’t have as many abilities as the rest of the Justice League, there are a variety of suits to don that give the Dynamic Duo the proper powers at just the right time. It’s a good thing too, since so much of the game revolves around the additional suits both Batman and Robin have to use. It makes total sense that a Batman game basically requires you to play as the titular character, but it does mean that you’ll have to constantly switch back and forth if you want to enjoy any playtime as other DC characters. Lego Batman 2 makes use of the diagonal split-screen when playing with a partner, and this helps prevent a lot of the older issues of insta-death when one player wanders too far off the screen.
Aside from voice acting, the biggest addition to Lego Batman 2 is the large sandbox Gotham City you get to play in. Each district has a distinct feel, and the Tim Burton-inspired skyline of Gotham looks rather hilarious when replicated in Lego form. There’s a ton of secret stuff to find throughout the world, including DC villain boss fights that aren’t part of the story, more rare bricks to pick up, and a seemingly endless supply of coins to acquire. Stalwart landmarks like Wayne Manor, Arkham Asylum, Wayne Towers, and Ace Chemicals appear, and it’s easy to get lost driving or flying around the Lego Gotham City. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to get lost thanks to the lack of a competent map system. There’s no mini-map on the HUD, and players will have to make due with a compass system if they hope to key in on specific locations.
Additionally, the game’s main map doesn’t make it very easy to discover what else is out there in the world. Lego Batman 2 doesn’t give a clear explanation of how to make the most of the sandbox after you complete the story. Purchasing new heroes requires you to not only unlock a certain number of gold bricks, but then to also find the location of their purchase window. With the overwhelming number of buildings to survey and ground to cover, it can be a bit daunting to unlock new heroes. Making things even more challenging is the absolutely terrible flight controls. While Batman’s plane and Robin’s helicopter control just fine, individual flying heroes like Superman and Green Lantern are rather tough to reign in once they’re up, up and away. The camera is uncooperative, and the mid-air controls are quite clumsy.
Despite some of the hiccups transitioning to a sandbox game, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a lot of fun to play. Traveller’s Tales took some risks with this entry in the series, and for the most part, they all pay off. The inclusion of such a great cast seems squandered at first, but there are plenty of reasons to go back and replay entire portions of the game over and over again to get the most out of all the characters. Though the core of the game remains almost identical to every Lego game that’s come before, Lego Batman 2 feels like the first true upgrade the franchise has gotten in years. Hopefully future entries in the Lego brand will continue to build on what Traveller’s Tales has started here.
Release date : 2012-06-18
Publisher : Warner Games
Developer : TT Games
Gameplay : Action-Adventure
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