“Holy guacamole Batman, how is this possible? Is this some fiendish plot by the Riddler to turn us all into plastic toys?” “No Robin, it is merely a sign that we have reached cult status; we are now enshrined for all time in the world of Lego."
Yes, Lego Batman was inevitable - particularly with the proven track records of the hugely successful Lego Star Wars and the more recent Lego Indiana Jones.
Who would have though that taking cult films and placing them in a Lego based video game would be so successful? It's an interesting formula, as the Lego figures that the game uses are basically out-of-the-box, with only limited animation options. The straight legs result in a sort of bobbing movement, and the lack of any elbows or an articulated spine means movements appears quite awkward. Surround this in an environment that is also made up largely of Lego bricks and it's hard to see how it could be so successful.
There is a school of thought that Lego itself has to be the best imagination toy there is, and no matter your age group it will always bring out the urge to build something. We however subscribe to another view, and that is that seeing our on-screen heroes reduced to Lego figures is simply cute and comical. Whatever your take, Lego Batman - like the others in the series - is a fun and entertaining game.
Unlike earlier games that largely stuck to the story lines of the movies they portrayed, this game sets its own story, which is not a bad thing. There is a degree of excitement in not knowing what is about to happen next. The game, like its predecessors, is at its heart a classic platform title. The sort of game where you move from platform to platform, area to area, unlock doors and beat on the bad guys.
The basic story revolves around a prison break. Some of the more recognizable villains in Gotham City (Joker, Penguin, and the Riddler) have broken out of Arkham Asylum, and these fiendish foes are backed up by an apprentice team hardly likely to grace the Gotham City Criminal Hall of Fame (Two Face, Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy, Cat Woman). In order to restore order, Batman and Robin are at the standby, along with Bat Girl, Nightwing and Alfred who can each be unlocked.
You get to play both sides of the fence in the game, with fifteen or so levels of trying to foil the evil plots, and another fifteen as the villains carrying out your nefarious deeds whilst avoiding the hard working police force of Gotham City. In addition to these thirty levels you can (once you have successfully completed a level) go back and play each one in “Free Play Mode” to unlock some of the hidden areas and zones.
The overall feel of the game is certainly darker than other games in the series, however that being said it fits well with the Batman mythos. Levels include the Ice Cream Factory, Plant Emporium, and Bank, to name but a few, and most levels also feature a vehicle sequence where you can construct and drive vehicles such as boats, aircraft and sludge suckers. You can also unlock “Power Suits” that grant extra abilities to your hero (bat wings, magnetic suit, demolition suit etc). One of the challenges in the game is to determine the best suit for the right occasion.
Overall, the levels are relatively easy to navigate, and puzzles are not overly hard to solve. There are also a lot of environmental objects to break and smash down to their individual Lego bricks, which in turn reveals studs (the currency of the game) that can also be used for additional equipment and unlocks. As always in these games, getting deconstructed yourself is only a minor setback and you are quickly reconstituted to carry on where you left off. It's easy play, but very satisfying nevertheless.
The only real issue we had during play consisted of control problems around the main starting area and quest hub. Centred around the Bat Cave, this area is populated with platforms that are simply too easy to fall off; indeed, falling into the bat guano below is a regular occurrence, and at times could be a bit frustrating for some of the younger players.
There is no doubt that this is a great family game. There are very few about today that are pitched at a level that all the family can enjoy with no risk of offending anyone, although it must be said that Cat Woman does look sexy in Lego as well!
The formula works and works well in Lego Batman. We highly recommend this game.