Available on Xbox 360, PS3 (version tested), PC, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii
There aren’t many games with the cross generational appeal of the Lego series. Kids can enjoy Lego Star Wars or Lego Indiana Jones for the fun graphics and the addictive block-bashing, stud-collecting, character-unlocking gameplay, while adults can love them for the nostalgia, the in-jokes and those ever lovable Lego movie pastiches.
In a way, the lack of the last aspect was the original Lego Batman’s biggest problem. While it had Batman and Robin, a line-up of classic villains and some brilliant puzzle-solving gameplay, it didn’t have that much of a personality to latch onto. While even the Lego Harry Potter and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean games had some good source material to hook onto, Lego Batman could feel a little flat.
Less Nolan, More Burton
This isn’t a problem for its sequel, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. While not actually based on the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher cycle of Batman movies, it’s taken its style – and importantly its score – straight from them, then bought in elements you’ll recognise from the comics, the sixties TV series, the animated series and even Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City.
Meanwhile, instead of just Batman and Robin, it finds room to field a whole range of DC heroes, including Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and The Flash, plus some lesser-known stars like Cyborg and Martian Manhunter.
As a result, it’s a treat for comic-book aficianados both lapsed and ongoing, while guaranteed to hit the right buttons with those of us who were kids ourselves when the Christopher Reeve Superman hit and in our youth in the days of the Burton Batman. Racing through Gotham’s exaggerated art-deco-meets-gothic architecture to the strains of Danny Elfman’s theme is one thing, but the moment where Superman takes off to the sounds of the classic John Williams score will go down as one of our top gaming moments of the year.
Grand Theft Gotham
Underneath all this, Lego Batman 2 is arguably the riskiest and most ambitious game the Lego series has yet produced. For a start, it has ditched the hubs of old for a larger, open-world Gotham City setting, which still provides a jumping off-point for the game’s main story missions, but also contains a whole mass of content of its own.
There are endangered citizens to save, villains to bring down, costumes and vehicles to try out and numerous kit parts and gold bricks to collect. It’s not quite a living breathing city in the GTA4-vein, unless you think screaming civilians and bomb-throwing enemies make a convincing population, but there’s enough to see and do to keep you occupied during breaks between the main missions or give you a sandbox for when the central tale is done.
Meanwhile, the levels themselves are amongst the largest and most complex we’ve seen in a Lego game, spanning multiple areas and multiple game styles and featuring some fairly complex costume-swapping puzzles. As in any Lego game, the focus is on making your way through the level, bashing enemies into their constituent blocks and solving various puzzles to shift any obstacle in your way. Lego Batman 2 has the traditional switch-flicking puzzles and those bits where you smash up one object then use the bits to construct another, but like the original Lego Batman a lot of the puzzles involve the various suits that Batman and Robin can wear.