Ever since the LEGO company came to be in the the early 1900s, it has, year by year, become an irresistible global phenomena and a household name. LEGOs are everywhere you go, on the TV, at the movies, and in storefronts and living rooms all across the world. With the advent of gaming consoles, however, the world of LEGO has taken on a new dynamic with the appearance of the LEGO series of games. So far, the world of LEGO gaming has taken us to sports fields, to a galaxy far, far away, to lonely temples and exotic cities. Now, the world of Batman has been "LEGOified" and presented for your approval. Stick around to see if it’s a deserving entry.
Anyone who has played the previous LEGO games won’t be disappointed. The series continues its tradition of excellence with a well-crafted and superior gameplay experience. It may look like just a LEGO themed game but underneath the toy like exterior lies a sophisticated graphics engine that powers everything from the flame rocketing from Batman’s car to the ambient lighting and colorful effects that have made the LEGO games so popular. However, some stuttering occurs when transitioning between level sections, and there can be a brief lag when slipping from the end of one level to the intro movie of another. However, these discrepancies are nothing but minor annoyances.
When compared to the last LEGO franchise title, LEGO Indiana Jones, the gameplay of LEGO Batman is an impressive improvement. The camera is mostly automatic, though players can pan around using the right control stick; but it does a fine job of keeping what you need to see in view and doesn’t impede progress. The controls have also been re-tweaked and pack more power than before. After all, this is Batman, so you need all the sweet moves that the man himself has. You can, for instance, press the B button to grapple an enemy and either throw him over your shoulder or simply smack him silly. Even Robin – who is more the Boy Blunder then the Boy Wonder in this game – makes a grand show of his own, as he can pick up enemies, swing them around, and toss them.
The Batarang command (think boomerang, only Batman style) is also a well calibrated part of the game: it either functions as a "fire and forget" weapon for enemies (it even comes right back to you), or it can be be used to deflect gunshots. Most impressive of all, however, is that the Batarang can target multiple items even if they are in different parts of the screen. You select targets with the right stick, release the button, and let fly. This is one of the smoothest parts of the game. Another interesting twist to the game is the inclusion of different costumes for both Batman and Robin. Each costume has a special ability that is necessary to get through missions or uncover secret areas. Batman’s Sonic Suit, for instance, allows him to break through through glass enclosed areas, whereas Robin’s Attraction suit, (which sadly has no effect on Catwoman), allows him to climb up metallic surfaces, just like Ratchet from The Ratchet and Clank series.
The villains are also playable (in their own game-spanning campaigns, no less) and each of them have special abilities. The Riddler’s cane can be used to mind control humans, like Kane from the Soul Reaver series could do, and he can use this to flip switches that would otherwise be inaccessible. Mega strength characters, such as Clayface, can lift up very heavy loads and toss them aside as if they were pillows. Female characters like Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn both have special talents rooted in their athleticism (being able to move faster or jump higher), but Ivy’s special relationship with plants can also be quite useful in the game. Finding these characters and using their proper talents is not only crucial to the successful completion of the game, but it’s also necessary if you want to track down all the extras and bonuses.
The audio scheme will also be familiar to LEGO veterans: the spoken words in the cut scenes are little more then mumblings explained with gesticulations or visual aids. LEGO Batman also possesses an orchestral musical store (right out of Tim Burton’s Batman film) which imbues the game with a sweeping grandeur unexpected in a LEGO game. The other sound effects have received an equally high level of attention as well, as the game is filled with the pings of rebounding bullets against metal, the tinkling of breaking glass, and other such details that flesh out the atmosphere.
LEGO Batman also enjoys a large amount of replayability, as every mission you play has a story mode and a free play mode where you can bring any character you want to the mix. In this game, "any character" really means any character, as you play through both hero and villain missions. It’s undeniably cool that the game allows you to assume the guise of your favorite villains from the DC comic series. The game could frankly be described as having too much content to play through.
While it’s best played in small doses, the title still stands as a fine – and in some ways, one of the the best – chapters in the Lego franchise.