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Dec 26, 2008

Review: Lego Batman

Warner Bros. Interactive, Traveller’s Tales
Available for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS

It’s hard to believe we didn’t get a videogame adaptation of this summer’s blockbuster, The Dark Knight and though there’s been rumours circulating that a game is still in development, Batman fans will just have to settle for the whimsical Lego Batman game, at least until the upcoming Batman: Arkham Asylum steps in to bring us a taste of the darker side of the Gotham Knight.

Not straying far from the formula that made the brick-breaking antics of Jedi Knights and adventuring archaeologists such fun, Batman's Lego makeover delivers a mostly familiar but chock-full-of-fun experience.

As Batman and his boy wonder sidekick, you and possibly a friend (option co-op play) will bust Lego bricks, solve puzzles and chase after Gotham’s most evil through 15 missions. While the concept and mechanics will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s played the previous Lego games, there’s no denying the charm of playing as DC Comics' iconic heroes and villains in their cute blocky forms.

And while much of the game play and design isn’t far removed from Traveller’s Tales’ successful formula, they have added some small but significant touches, making this one much more than Lego Star Wars with a Batman paintjob. For starters, the heroes have access to a variety of ability-enhancing suits; so rather than relying on a variety of characters who possess unique skills, the dynamic duo when outfitted in the proper get-ups, can do what it might have taken a handful of characters to accomplish in previous Lego games.

In addition to tweaking the recipe a bit with this suit-switching mechanic, Lego Batman also places a greater focus on vehicle segments; you won’t spend a ton of the game behind the wheel of the Batmobile or Batwing, but the few times you do find yourself in the driver‘s seat, you’ll appreciate the game play shift from the usual plat forming and puzzle solving.

If the special suits and Bat vehicles don‘t get you going, then Lego Batman’s absolute best feature, the ability to play as a variety of Batman baddies, will surely will. The second half of Lego Batman has you reeking havoc on Gotham as all the Batman villains including Catwoman, the Joker, the Riddler, Scarecrow, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and many more. From Joker’s joy-buzzing to Catwoman’s whip-cracking, these blocky bad guys and their signature abilities steal the show. There isn’t a villain in the Batman universe that isn’t in this game, so don’t worry about missing your favourite either. From Harley Quinn to the Mad Hatter, the lesser known villains get a chance to drive the police of Gotham nuts.

Whether fighting for justice or looking to unleash chaos on the streets of Gotham, you’ll be treated to the best Lego game visuals yet. The characters all look amazing, and the villains especially are brought to life with bizarre, yet worthy-of-the-license likenesses. Plus their animated quirks add a ton to the already rich characterizations. Gotham also looks great; sure, it's darker than the candy-coloured backdrops you might be accustomed to from this series, but it's true to the Dark Knight genre. In addition to being the best looking Lego title to date, it also sounds great, due in no small part to the mood-setting inclusion of Danny Elfman’s score from the films.

Lego Batman, while offering plenty of new, although small tweaks to the can’t-miss formula that’s driven the Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles to the top of the sales chart, feels pretty familiar. If you’ve played those other titles, you’ll feel right at home in the Dark Knight’s plastic paved Gotham. Batman fans will be especially happy with how the developers have treated the franchise and though the game is probably not as dark and gothic as we would like, Lego Batman will hopefully keep you deep in bat gadgets and super villains, long enough for Arkham Asylum to hit store shelves.

Rating 9 out of 10
Buy it!

1 comment:

Gaelic Gopher said...

I played the demo for this on PS3 and had to pick it up. You're absolutely right: nothing new in the "Lego" genre, but still a fun.

great review