LEGO Batman Review
What do Indiana Jones and Star Wars have in common? They’re both Lucasfilm series which have received the LEGO treatment. Following on from the success of both titles and continuing the LEGO video game franchise comes LEGO Batman – under the bat wing of a different publisher to the previous titles, the same LEGO magic was still covered by Traveller’s Tales.
Considering the game was released two months after The Dark Knight film, many of us were expecting a storyline based upon the box office smash however LEGO Batman follows three different storylines, each of which is an original storyline.
The first storyline consists of the Riddler raiding Gotham bank for gold; the second has the Penguin holding up Gotham City, and the final storyline has the Joker attempting to destroy a cathedral. As you may have noticed, neither of the storylines follows the storylines of the movies or comics. This has proved to be a weak choice as the storyline is not perfectly outputted throughout. I personally didn’t enjoy the storyline as much as I did with the likes of LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones. Having knowledge of the storylines with the added humour effect was what stood out from the previous LEGO titles, and the newly-written storylines just don’t seem to cut it.
Quite cleverly, the storyline has two sides to it, both of which are played through. The first side is the Hero (where players take control of Batman and Robin, obviously) and the second side sees players taking control of the Villains. Whilst the environments are pretty much the same, and even at time crosslink, seeing the other side to the story is different to what we are normally treated to and is a welcome addition to the game. The only negative aspect of this is the fact that it feels like you’ve played through the same storyline twice which steadily increases as you go back to play through again.
Replayability is once again great. Going through each level again after finishing the story may sound like a chore, but having access to a lot of the game’s characters at the press of a trigger in Free Play is not as boring as it sounds. As certain characters adopt certain abilities, new areas and new heights can be accessed. The in-depth levels, whilst not being noticeable in the Story mode, are a great attraction and have so many hidden secrets and collectibles.
The LEGO series have always been well-known for their collectibles and LEGO Batman sees the arrival of familiar features including studs, minikits and red bricks, each of which unlocking new content and unlockables. Another feature the LEGO series is well-known for is the co-operative play, and LEGO Batman is no different. Exasperatingly, the co-op is not playable over Xbox Live. Considering online play was a feature in LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, it was a disappointment when it didn’t make an appearance in LEGO Indiana Jones but, in my books, this is an even bigger disappointment in LEGO Batman. If it’s been done once, surely it can be done again? As for the ‘offline’ co-op, it once again proves to work really well with the ‘drop-in, drop-out’ system in full flow.
LEGO Star Wars had the Cantina and LEGO Indiana Jones had the museum, this trend continues as LEGO Batman contains familiar locations for level accessibility. This comes in the form of the Batcave, though with two separate storylines, a flick of a LEGO lever takes you to Arkham Asylum. Both areas contain the same features such as the ‘Create your own LEGO character’ and the computer to access the stores.
Graphically, LEGO Batman is great. The family-friendly image will easily appeal to children and adults alike and ‘Batfans’ will easily recognize the characters, regardless of their LEGO makeover. With the cutscenes taking up the familiar no-dialogue state, the audio seems to get quite repetitive. The constant demolition of LEGO environments and people, whilst being fun, plays tedious sound effects that soon begin to grate.
After the family-friendly graphics and cutscenes come the family-friendly controls. With any game you want to be able to pick-up-and-play the game with ease and LEGO Batman is just that. The controls are more-or-less identical to previous LEGO titles in the series with the familiar A to jump; X to attack; B to build and control special ability and Y to switch characters.
Gliding onto the achievements now and with the exception of a few, the full list is obtained by obtaining 100% completion. Almost anyone will be able to unlock a fair bit of GamerScore from it and the full 1000 will take just that little bit extra. Good list all-in-all and encourages players to go that step further whilst playing.
Whilst Batman’s conversion to LEGO video-gaming was successful, it doesn’t live up to the standards of LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones. The poor storyline and lack of online co-op play make the game the weakest of the series. Let’s just hope 2009 brings us a more solid LEGO title.