Batman is stuck in the past.
What LEGO Batman 2 Got Right
- + Fun and charming characters
- + Shiny and impressive characters
- + Open world suits collectible gameplay
- + Cutscenes are humerous
What LEGO Batman 2 Got Wrong
- - Vehicle controls are problematic
- - Friendly AI is horrendous
- - No mini-map causes frustration
- - Combat lacks depth
When LEGO Star Wars launched back in 2005, I honestly didn't know what to expect. Why were Traveller's Tales trying to combine the building block play sets with a beloved movie franchise? Little did we know that combining the voiceless LEGO heroes inside stories we already knew and loved would create such amazing experiences. It didn't matter whether it was Star Wars, Harry Potter or even Indiana Jones, the LEGO titles became synonymous with fun-filled adventure.
Now the studio has returned with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes which is bigger than ever before, however bigger isn't necessarily better....
Check out the official trailer!
The Man of the Year awards are a pretty big deal; the winner gets world-wide recognition from his peers, a shiny new trophy, money, women and an assortment of luxury cars no doubt. This year's event is being held in Gotham City, home to the corrupt and criminally insane, and coincidentally Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman. The award brings together some of the most powerful men in LEGO history, including Lex Luthor who comic-buffs will know is the main antagonist from the Superman series.
Obviously this would be the perfect opportunity for something to go wrong right? That's when The Joker and his merry gang of insane bandits ambush the award ceremony with a plan to take over the city once again. These are the opening scenes for LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and in all honesty, it does a great job brining together the various DC franchises into the game world. Political aspirations arise, criminal actions are underway and it's up to Batman and various other DC heroes to save the city. Sounds pretty neat right?
It is neat. Hell it's actually endearing. The interplay between Batman and Superman are hilarious as Bats tries to hide his jealousy towards Superman, and Robin's adoration towards the caped crusader exacerbates things which leads to humorous results. The characters are bright as ever and the addition of voice acting really fits the story on display this time, which is most important because this is the first original story for the franchise that wasn't based on a movie.
While the characters may be fun and charming, the gameplay is stale, sluggish and borderline frustrating. If you've played any previous LEGO games, then you'll know what you have to do. Solve a few puzzles, collect bricks to unlock rewards, rinse and repeat. There are rarely any new features to explore, which is quite upsetting considering the wealth of opportunity Gotham City harbours.
For the first time ever the player is given an open world to explore, which really plays well into the collecting element of the game. Unfortunately how you move around that world is where the game falls down considerably. Vehicle controls are sloppy to the point where you'll want to walk wherever possible, and the fact that there is no mini-map to guide you means you often feel lost and confused as you walk around in circles.
Stuck in the past is the best way I can describe LEGO Batman 2. It's not a horrible game, but any potential it had at reinvigorating the franchise is squandered due to poor design choices."
The friendly AI is horrendous, almost to the point where you'll want to put the game down and stop playing. Your partners in crime-fighting will often stand there and watch you be beaten to a pulp, fall repeatedly into pits of death or just stand in your way across narrow beams, leaving you little choice but to risk your life jumping over them. The AI has never been the selling point of the LEGO games, but never has their inaptitude been so obvious as in LEGO Batman 2.
The combat simply feels like filler in an adventure that is more about discovery than crime-fighting. Players will simply mash one button to bash a number of foes who just keep coming until a room is cleared. It's boring, stale and lacks depth. Even a few extra moves thrown in would have made a huge difference, but it seems the developers are simply stuck in the past.
Bats is jealous of someone in a red cape....
Stuck in the past is the best way I can describe LEGO Batman 2. It's not a horrible game, but any potential it had at reinvigorating the franchise is squandered due to poor design choices. This is a 2012 game that feels as if it should be debuting back in 2005, leaving a missed opportunity to really take Gotham City for all it was worth.
It does look and feel great though. The graphics engine has been polished up to deliver the best looking LEGO adventure yet, it's just a shame that the gameplay rarely backs it up at all.
The Final Verdict
If you're a fan of the previous LEGO adventures, or DC comics as a whole, then chances are you'll get a kick out of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. The same charm and wit that made previous LEGO outings so endearing are back with full force, and the introduction of voice acting really works. However the game mechanics are wearing thin after 5 years of the same positives, but also the negatives. LEGO Batman 2 was a golden opportunity to change things up and provide a fantastic experience, yet instead we are given something that is average at best.
By Stephen Heller - Bio
Disclaimer: This review was based on the Xbox 360 version