If you’ve battled your way through any of the earlier LEGO games then there’s little doubt you’ll know exactly what’s expected here. In short, a series of familiar characters are remodelled out of LEGO and thrust into an accessible mix of action and puzzle solving. It worked for Star Wars, it worked for Indiana Jones and now, once again, it works for LEGO Batman.
Unlike the previous games, though, LEGO Batman doesn’t wrap its narrative around a film story, instead making up some bumph about lots of villains escaping from Arkham Asylum. From there the game splits into a series of levels that first see you tracking down and defeating some of Batman’s nemeses (including many you’ve heard of and some you may not have done), and then ultimately turning the tables and taking the role of them too.
As usual, you play and flip between an assortment of characters and the controls are easy to pick up. Whether jumping between platforms, activating special weapons or functions or simply fighting away, there’s little to learn but plenty to enjoy.
LEGO Batman does, however, have tricks of its own. For instance, Batman comes armed with a grappling hook to swing up to higher ledges and a slightly fiddly batarang to knock out distant objects and foes. Furthermore, the vehicle count is up and there’s an assortment of suits to discover and wear that bring you special added powers.
So, for instance, Robin may get himself some metal boots so that he can walk vertically along metallic surfaces, or Batman may get the ability to glide and thus cover large gaps that would otherwise be unbridgeable. Again, all good fun.
For all this, however, the game mechanic soon falls into the same pattern, with the same highs and lows. It’s frustrating, for instance, that the camera angle still makes some platform jumps a lot trickier than you’d expect them to be, and the puzzles, while generally quite good fun and not too taxing, sometimes are a little irritating (often a case of exploring and looking for a glimmer of a visual clue, rather than puzzling much out).
LEGO Batman also hits you with Danny Elfman’s terrific music from the 1989 Batman movie, on loop. This is all well and good until you’ve heard it for the umpteenth time. Then it’s not so well and good at all.
On the bright side, LEGO Batman is more good than bad, the game is really good fun to play and the LEGO recreations of the assorted characters are a hoot. In multiplayer it’s even better and it’s genuinely a game that can be enjoyed by pretty much all of the family.
While it might be nice next time around if they could shake up one or two of the conventions a bit – for instance, we know that a smooth floor means we can shunt a box along, and a big glow somewhere is always a clue – it’s hard to grumble at a game that keeps its tongue so firmly in its cheek and is mighty good fun to play. And the cut scenes are just brilliant.
Company: Warner Bros Interactive