Posted by: peanutmaster | October 11, 2008

LEGO Batman – Xbox 360 – Traveller’s Tales


First there was LEGO Star Wars, then LEGO Indiana Jones, and just when we thought the LEGO games were running out of steam, LEGO Batman arrives to let us know that Traveller’s Tales still has plenty of tricks left up its sleeves. The core of the game is still the same as LEGO Star Wars or Indiana Jones, but LEGO Batman shakes things up with the best character variety and puzzle design yet. The difficulty level has been ramped up a bit, which isn’t so good for younger fans, but overall LEGO Batman is a fun game…

Unlike the past LEGO games, LEGO Batman doesn’t have a story based on movies. Instead, it tells three original stories created for the game. This, in theory is better, because you don’t know what is going to happen, but then, it also seems as if it doesn’t have as much depth as the previous games. Gotham City’s most dangerous criminals have busted out of Arkham Asylum and are wreaking havoc in the city, and the three stories focus on The Riddler, The Penguin, and The Joker, and each also features plenty of other famous villains from Batman’s rich universe. In an absolutely brilliant move, you actually play through the stories twice each. First as Batman and Robin, and then again from the perspective of the villains! The hero levels have you sort of bursting in through the front door to save the day while the villain levels see you sneaking in the back and working behind the scenes on your master plan. Some aspects of levels are reused for both versions, but for the most part each version offers up different stuff. It is interesting to see both sides of each scenario and is really a while lot of fun. In total there are 30 story levels along with a couple of bonus levels. And, of course, each level has hidden canisters and red bricks to find in order to get 100% completion so there is plenty to do here.

The only major downside I saw is that there isn’t any online co-op. Local co-op is available, but being able to play online would have been nice.

The core of the game is pretty much exactly like every other LEGO game. You run around levels breaking stuff, beating up other LEGO figures, and building stuff to help you progress. What sets LEGO Batman apart is the overall solid design of the levels as well as the surprising variety in how all of the characters play. Batman and Robin each have a number of different suits that allow them to do specific things such as set bombs, glide over long distances, break glass, use computers, or walk on vertical walkways with magnetic boots among other things. The villains, on the other hand, all have different powers. Some have super strength. Some can double jump. Some can walk through toxic waste. Mr. Freeze can freeze enemies. The Riddler, The Scarecow, and The Mad Hatter can use mind control. The Penguin has bombs. Etc. All of these different character types and suits mean that there is also a great variety in the puzzle designs. Puzzles are multi-layered requiring many different characters or suits and are just plain fun to figure out. This is easily the deepest LEGO game yet in terms of the sheer variety of stuff you have to do.There is one slight hiccup here, however. The game is quite a bit more difficult than previous LEGO games. The puzzles aren’t quite as obvious, and some of them are downright obscure. Also, similar to LEGO Indiana Jones, bringing a melee character to a gun fight leads to a lot of frustration. In a series that has always been about accessibility and kids in particular, the challenge level in LEGO Batman is a bit over the top.

Another issue is that the friendly A.I. is dumber than a box of rocks. They stand in your way when you are trying to solve puzzles. They follow you around instead of staying in one place to activate a necessary switch. Or in vehicle levels they offer zero help, even when their help is required to beat a level such as one boss where you have to grapple them while your partner shoots them. You thought they were idiots in Indiana Jones? You’ve seen nothing yet. Playing co-op makes these things a lot easier.

Overall, though, LEGO Batman is a blast to play. And it must be noted that playing as the villains is easily the best part of the game. Graphically, LEGO Batman is a decent looking game. It looks kind of strange to see plastic characters and pieces inhabiting a realistic themed world, but you get over it pretty quickly. The sound is also pretty solid. Decent music. Decent sound effects. And the same mumbling “Simlish” dialogue as previous games. All in all, LEGO Batman is a solid entry in the series. It doesn’t change the core foundations of the gameplay, so don’t expect drastic differences from the Star Wars or Indiana Jones LEGO games, but it features some of the best character variety and level design in the series so far which more than makes up for it. It is fun and funny and challenging and tells a pretty interesting story that you actually get to see from both the hero and villain perspective. It is also a decently long game with easily 25-30+ hours of gameplay. The only real complaints we have are that the friendly A.I. is terrible and the difficulty level of the game might make it a little harder for younger players to get through. But these issues aren’t nearly enough that you should turn away from the game. LEGO Batman is an enjoyable game worthy of a purchase due to its sheer depth and size and endless replayability.

RATING: 89%

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