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As The Joker might ask, ‘Do you like LEGOs, Batman? ‘Cause I think LEGOs are going to like you!’
If you do like both LEGOs and Batman, then LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes should catch your attention like a Bat-signal. This time, Lex Luthor and The Joker have teamed up and are running amok in Gotham City. The Dark Knight sure has his hands full, but, fortunately, he has his pals in the Justice League to give him a hand.
The sequel is chock full of blocky fun and sports some new features we haven’t seen in a LEGO game. One such important new addition is voices. That’s right, it’s the first title that no longer leans on pantomime to propel the story as seen in the numerous prior LEGO games. Though Mark Hamill isn’t in the game to reprise his famous Joker from the ’90s animated series, the voice acting is top notch and adds plenty of genuinely funny, kid-friendly humor. It really captures the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon.
Another big addition to the LEGO series is the implementation of an open sandbox Gotham City that’s rife with Arkham Asylum escapees. If you are looking to play the game past its initial story (which is rather short), you’ll be spending a lot of your time zip-lining through the Gotham skyline. There are tons of puzzles to solve, rewarding players with collectible golden bricks. There’s also a rogue gallery full of villains to capture, which adds them to your post-game playable character roster. Sandboxing Gotham is a nice touch to the game, but Traveler’s Tale haven’t implemented a mini-map, so it’s often hard to zero in on specific objectives or villains you want to fight.
Despite the addition of a sandbox Gotham City, the game is still structured like a typical LEGO game. A majority of the game’s story takes place in episodic levels and the Gotham overworld connects the dots of the narrative.
For those of you unfamiliar with the numerous titles in the LEGO series, they’re largely driven by a combination of platforming and puzzle-solving, and this sequel’s core is no different. In LEGO Batman 2, you’ll step into the plastic-molded boots (are they really boots?) of Batman and Robin (most of the time) who have to use every gadget at their disposal, including a variety of super suits, to solve puzzles to get them through each level. There are a few other characters you’ll also get to play as during the story. You can switch between characters on the fly if you are playing by yourself, which you will need to do to get through the game.
As with prior LEGO titles, the emphasis on puzzle-solving (and tapping a button to reassemble disparate pieces into a useful tool) is very much intact. At times, there are some frustrating moments in which you won’t know what to do. But, as is the case in other games in the series, once you get the hang of the game’s logic things, it clicks.
One of the LEGO series’ trademarks is it emphasis on co-op play. The AI is a serviceable companion, but not always the sharpest option. There are moments when you’ll switch back to a character you think is in tow, to find out they’re a few puzzles behind. And no, a real human partner won’t solve all your sidekicking woes. The usual aggravation (for some, mischievous joy) associated with walloping your partner and costing them some bolts is still part of the experience. Also, the diagonally split-screen camera – introduced in LEGO Indiana Jones 2 – still creates some havoc as sometimes, it will throw off one partner’s projectile targeting. Given the system in place all the way back in the days of the old LEGO Star Wars games, we’ll take those quirks instead of being driven off-screen by the wonky camera.
Though this game is supposed to be about Batman and the Justice League, Superman steals a lot of screen time. You won’t see most of the other superheroes until the last few chapters. You get to play them as much as you want during post-campaign free play, but we would have liked to have a greater mix of heroes during the story, rather than a massive dose of The Man of Steel.
Superman is a powerhouse and can solve a lot of puzzles by himself that would take Batman a few super-suited ability swaps to tackle. But he can sometimes be awkward to fly, but he’s a very useful character for younger and casual gamers, since he’s invincible and won’t cost anyone any precious LEGO bolts. He can, however, break a few of the Sandbox puzzles. For example, Batman would need to overcome a few obstacles and puzzles to scale a building to get a golden brick. But Superman can just fly up and grab the brick without breaking a sweat. But Supes can’t solve every problem, and fortunately, will often need Batman’s help, which keeps the action from falling into total imbalance.
LEGO Batman 2’s greatest strength is not only in how it balances its difficulty and length, but also in how the sandbox world will give you way more playtime and challenges to solve afterwards. Also, players can choose to be Superman and solve problems easily or play with Batman to make them more challenging. LEGO Batman 2 is a great game for Batman fans, young and old. If you are looking to share a good gaming experience with a younger gamer, or want to indoctrinate your children in the ways of Batman, this game will be perfect. If you are a longtime Bat-o-phile looking for a deep gaming experience, LEGO Batman 2 has enough collectibles to keep you busy nearly as long as Arkham City.
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