The Goddamn Lego Batman
So, I’ve had Lego Batman for a couple of days, and since I absolutely loved the previous Lego video games (Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones) it was inevitable that I pick up one about the Goddamned Batman, who is and shall be one of my favorite characters, forever and ever, amen.
I am enjoying the game immensely, though I find it has flaws.
This next bit is going to be tediously boring if you’ve ever played a Lego videogame before. If you have, feel free to skip down to “Hey, Dumbass! Start Reading Again!”. Otherwise, continue.
Like all previous Lego games, Lego Batman is a 3d platformer where you solve puzzles to continue, either by using special powers inherent in each character or building shit out of Lego. You will always have at least two characters with you (in this case, usually Batman and Robin, but more on that later) and can switch between them at will.
Overcoming obstacles is an exercise in the correct application of each character’s unique abilities.
There is a lot of replay in every level. Certain powers or characters are only unlocked later in the game, or are not given to you during “normal” play. Thus, you can replay any level you’ve beaten in “free play” mode, where you have pretty much ALL the characters available to you. And in this way you can get into secret hidden areas you were unable to reach before (because, say, it was behind glass, and you needed the Sonic Suit to get through it, or it was across a toxic waste pool, and you needed Poison Ivy to get there [she’s immune to poison]).
Along the way, you collect a bunch of Skittles and then have boss fights. It’s pretty typical in that regard.
Of course, where the game shines is the co-operative 2 player mode. And I can’t really describe the awesomesauce that is, so you’ll just have to find out for yourself.
‘Kay. Kindergarten over.
Hey, Dumbass! Start Reading Again!
It is patently obvious that Lego Batman was built upon the backs of its predecessors. The game play and puzzles have become fine-tuned at this point, and there is a polish to everything. I thought Lego Indiana Jones was polished but Lego Batman makes it look like neglected silverware.
There are many “powers” that I think the designers probably wanted to include in Indiana Jones but were hampered by, you know, “reality.” Like, oh, being able to control plants, or freeze people, or fly like a fucking bat. Or walk on walls (with Robin’s “magneto-suit”).
This is the game’s second biggest strength: the variety of characters and abilities. There are a metric ass-ton, and they come in combination on different characters (for example, Mr. Freeze has the “freeze shit” power, the “walk in toxic sludge” power, and “super strength” while The Riddler has “control minds” and . . . well. That’s it. But you don’t want Freeze in a fistfight, because he’s slow as a frozen dog-turd rolling uphill, while the Riddler is crazy fast.
There is a neat mechanic regarding powers that applies only to Batman and Robin: they can change “suits”. Different Batsuits have different abilities. One allows you to glide/fly, another allows you to blow shit up with bombs, another protects you from super heat, and so forth. Throughout the levels you’re given the option to sometimes switch suits, which you usually need to do in order to progress.
The game’s greatest strength, however, is the fact that you get to play the story from both sides.
Again, as in the past, the story is broken up into three main parts, each of which contains six levels. However, in Lego Batman, we really have six main parts (for a total of 36 levels), because you can play through each of the three story parts again as the bad guys.
The best part: the villain levels are totally different maps, with their own puzzles and secrets. You just get to see the bank heist from a different perspective. Strands unlock once you’ve completed it in “good guy” mode.
Further: playing the bad guys is more fun.
Little irritants have been thrown out, too. For example, in previous Lego games, the vehicle levels were seriously painful if you were trying to collect studs (points). Now, if you destroy something in a vehicle, you’re just automatically awarded the points, which is excellent.
However, the game is not without flaws. The “boss fights” are frankly too easy and usually amount to “beat the shit out of someone for a minute,” “beat up a wave of goons,” repeat until boss dead. The “boss challenges” (the bosses you ‘fight’ when playing a bad guy) are frankly frustrating because they usually involve trying to solve a strange puzzle while fending off an infinite amount of re-spawning cops. This detracts from the overall flow.
Story and atmosphere-wise, this is not the Dark Knight. It’s more like the child of the 1990’s animated series and the campy teevee show from the 1960s. It’s not asking “why so serious?”; it’s kid-friendly in that regard.