There’s something both fulfilling and simplistic about LEGO games. You run around smashing as many objects as possible to collect LEGO bits, solve simple, but still thoughtful puzzles while getting to see hilarious stories played out with cute figurines. It’s a wonderful design that sounds silly on paper but has had players hooked for years now. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is the first game in the series to take a drastic step forward, though.
When you first start LEGO Batman 2, you are presented with the obligatory “tutorial” mission after a whimsical little story sequence. The voice acting, expressions and scripts are all written and delivered so well that they are bound to get an audible chuckle out of anyone paying attention. When I first heard voices, I was quite literally taken aback as this is the first game in the series to feature actual dialogue instead of just expressions and gestures telling a story, making this the first bold move for LEGO Batman 2.
The story puts you in the role of Batman and his sidekick Robin, as Lex Luthor makes the obvious choice of teaming up with the Joker. Luthor has a crazy-powerful superweapon called the “Deconstructinator” which, well, deconstructs objects. Setting a bunch of villians free from Arkham, Lex and Joker go about their merry way to keep Batman and Superman (Superman replaces Robin during the first bit of the game) busy.
After you finish that first mission, you would usually expect to be teleported to a hub like most LEGO games. Instead, you are dropped into an open world. Outside of saving some “citizens in peril” (each awards you with a gold brick) and collecting a few other things, you won’t find a lot to do this early on but as you make your way through the story you’ll gain access to various things. This is the second bold move for LEGO Batman 2, and while it seemed like a little too much early on, as you get into the game, it becomes a very welcome change.
The unlockables are a core mechanic in any LEGO game, and LEGO Batman 2 doesn’t disappoint. Purchasing cars , like the massive Lexcorp Juggernaut, will add them to your inventory. Unlocking characters works in a few different ways. The first and easiest of them is to break locks (done with Superman’s heat vision) on access points and then fight the corresponding villain. Gold brick gates require a certain number of gold bricks to unlock, so most of these will go unused for quite some time. The other ways to obtain characters are by unlocking them through the story (ie. main Justice League players and Superman) or recruiting thugs off the street.
Free-play feels like a “New Game +” option, though that is nothing new to the LEGO games. You can freely switch between unlocked characters which gives you access to things in which you didn’t have access to as just the usual combination of heroes. Some heroes have the same powers as others, for example Cyborg can walk up magnetic strips like Robin’s magnet suit and also shoot lasers like Supermans heat vision, but having them in your lot negates the need for a suit.
I want to quickly note that I had a few rage-inducing glitches happen. One froze a boss while I could still move around and break things, so it wasn’t a complete system freeze but it is still aggravating to get through a long level and have to redo the whole thing. Another glitch involved something I was supposed to break and climb. It didn’t break completely (and wouldn’t) so I couldn’t get over the halfway point of the ladder. Both glitches had me pretty mad, but they were passable upon reloading the stage(s).
My son did not run into any of these glitches, though. He actually completed the game well before me and proceeded to “help” me at every chance he was around. Unless it is a Kids Corner review, I try not to mention such things but this was a milestone for him. He still plays the game even though he has beat it, and is replaying the levels now. I actually did not have to help him once.
The rest of the game plays like a standard LEGO game, which is not a bad thing at all. Those big changes are what really set this game apart from previous efforts though and make this the biggest step forward the franchise has seen.
- Hilarious script and voice acting
- The open world is a HUGE change for the LEGO franchise
- As charming and whimsical as every other LEGO game
- A few glitches during my play through were aggravating
- The open world is a little daunting at first
- I couldn’t get my son to stop playing
Note: This review is based on gameplay on the Playstation 3 version provided by the publisher. It is also available on the X360 and WII consoles, the PC, and the 3DS, DS and Vita handhelds.