Monday, July 09, 2012

Review: LEGO Batman 2

I’ve mostly avoided the LEGO games, rightly assuming that their brand of cutesy humour and colored bricks isn’t for me. That said, there’s a lot to be said for a game which hits its target audience so well. LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes, is a well-made, enjoyable title which is sure to keep younger gamers amused for hours with its winning combination of cute graphics, collectable mania, fun gameplay and clever writing.

The game’s plot is your standard fare, featuring longtime Batman nemesis Joker teaming up with a number of other bad guys, including baldy Lex Luthor and the Riddler to generally cause trouble.

Batman enlists the help of the Justice League, including Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern and his useless side-kick, Robin, to take them on and save the day. The full roster is considerable, and being able to play as a bad guy after you’ve defeated them is a treat, as each character has his/her own special ability, such as Superman’s laser-vision. Batman and Robin also have a variety of different suits they can switch between to interact with different parts of the world. This time around the game offers a selection of free-roaming areas, using Gotham City’s LEGO rooftops as a hub for the dynamic duo. 

Also on offer are a selection of vehicle sections (sadly let down by poor controls, a sticky camera and an absent minimap), and a number of challenges. As before, the world is a charming combination of Batman’s dark, gothic world and the cute ways of LEGO, and smashing the world to bits and hoovering up the precious golden LEGO studs that act as the game’s currency is always fun.

The characters can construct a number of items, vehicles and teleport pads from the smashed bricks, and the majority of the puzzles follow this vein. As you get later into the game, new abilities unlock which allow you to return to earlier levels and complete hidden tasks and objectives. The camera doesn’t help, however, often getting confused and looking the wrong way, or offering such a restricted view that’s it’s difficult to figure out what on earth is going on as brightly-coloured bricks fly around the screen.

In truth, the game plays best when you have a friend along for the ride, but sadly Batman 2 only offers split-screen gameplay, which is both a shame and an oversight in equal measure. This isn’t helped by the abysmal AI, both for enemies and friends. If you’re playing on your own, you might as well give up on your AI side-kick being any use whatsoever, as he/she will just stand there being punched to death, and won’t even fight back. It’s shocking.

Offering a decent length campaign, loads of collectables and some fantastic co-op play once the game really gets going, LEGO Batman 2 is a blast – but only if you’re a younger gamer, or need to keep the kids occupied as you watch The Dark Knight in the other room... Hardcore Batman fans need look elsewhere.

Reviewed on Xbox 360