Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes
Excitement of open world exploration overshadowed by tedious gameplay
By: Derek Mitchell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012 06:00 am
Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii
Genre: Action Puzzle
Online Play: None
ESRB Rating: E10 (Everyone 10 and older)
After months of M-rated games, a decent, high profile E-rated game comes along ready for some ambitious reviewer to rip into: Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes. Finally, a game my daughter could watch and one that my wife actually asked to play alongside me.
As with its predecessor, the game stays true to formula with a few shiny additions to make the franchise sparkle a little brighter.
True to form, Joker crashes the “Man of the Year” awards and spoils Bruce Wayne’s triumph over Lex Luthor. Naturally The Boy Wonder and The Caped Crusader step in, foiling Joker’s attempts. The chase is now on. From Arkham Asylum, across all Gotham City, you’ll pursue Joker, Luther and a barrage of baddies, thwarting their attempts to rig the presidential election.
New to the series, characters now have voices. Performed with precision and written with wit, the hilarity between characters resonates and is a thrill to experience. Brooding Batman contrasts beautifully with Superman’s cocky, playboy banter. And Robin, ever the lowly sidekick, is left feeling like the last kid picked in dodge ball, making playful quips here and there. “I found the characters so cute and sweet,” recalled my wife, “that they hurt my teeth.”
Not only have the sound effects been upgraded since the original, but I felt a sweet thrill when it dawned on me that the musical overtures were straight from the original Tim Burton-Michael Keaton movie score. Later, when pieces of John Williams’ Superman theme were heard, I was in heaven. Loved it!
The most obvious addition to the franchise is an open world to explore: Gotham City. In the massive city, there are tons of collectibles to be had, other characters to unlock and civilians to rescue. Exploring the highs and lows of Gotham as either the Son of Krypton or Green Lantern was, for the most part, more fun than the rest of the game. Plus, Gotham itself is beautiful to behold. Building details and textures are defined and definitive; weather effects are impressive. The open-world concept is a welcome addition to the series and one that I hope becomes a staple of future Lego games.
Despite these changes, the 15 levels of game play offer little variety from the formula established in 2005's Lego Star Wars. Break stuff, collect stuff, build stuff, and solve stuff. Same old, same old, but with different characters in a different universe. Sure there are new suits to don – Robin's acrobatic hamster ball was sadly fitting for the tagalong sidekick, according to my wife – and bigger, badder boss battles to win, but no real innovations in the underlying mechanics. The series is starting to show its age and with this impending aging comes level after level of tedium.
While the game is entertaining, there are definite moments of frustration. In the open world of Gotham, the map proves relatively useless when you're trying to track down specific collectibles. Another point of contention is the startling few save points throughout. But the game’s Achilles heel, as with past Lego games, is the camera control. Horribly cumbersome when you demand precision, the worst is when you’re playing couch co-op. During two-player split-screen, there are times where neither character is able to see his/her objective. Both my wife and I became quickly irritated with the camera and were ready on more than one occasion to simply switch it off.
Whether Lego Batman 2 is the best of the Lego series is debatable. Still, it adds some elements to the blueprint (open world exploration, voiced characters) that create an exciting and entertaining transition into future Lego games, such as the upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy.
When he’s not teaching junior high school, St. Albert Catholic High School alumnus Derek Mitchell can be found attached to a video game console.