Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes PS3
Telltale Games has gifted us with another visit to a Lego re-imagined world in Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne returns as his alter-ego the ‘caped crusader’, known in most circles as Batman. Lo and behold, the world has gone terribly awry thanks in part to the antics of The Joker, the other nemesis of Batman and a new companion in crime, Lex Luthor. However you can’t have Lex without Superman, and you can’t have Superman without Clark Kent.
The most recent in an increasingly long line of Lego-based franchise games, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is the biggest shift from all of the previous Lego/Telltale games, and a welcome change after the sadly dull Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter iterations of the series (thank god for little brothers, AKA “games-dumps” in this regard).
TellTale Games seems aware that it’s Lego Games need changing, and the game world has now been opened up into one big sandbox. If you saw any of this year’s E3 announcements, specifically Wii U announcements to be exact, you would have seen the announced open-world Lego game, titled Lego City: Undercover, and playing Lego Batman 2 you begin to understand how the company’s creation method is evolving into this game. For the first time in any of the Lego-themed games, the characters all have voices and this works greatly in the games favour, giving each of the characters a proper identity and also adding tension to the events. Witnessing Batman grimace and sulk as Superman enters each scene is both humorous and endearing – the voices really add personality and a soul to the game.
With the stage seemingly set for a cracking experience, it would be only right for the game to have an enticing story, and in this regard Lego Batman 2 does not disappoint. At the start of the game, Bruce Wayne wins the Man of the Year award, cueing Joker to enter the fray and cause all sorts of carnage before Batman sends him back to Arkham Asylum. Meanwhile Lex Luthor, who is running for President, frees the Joker and all of Batman’s other nemeses with a lego-brick destroying device powered by Kryptonite. It all becomes obvious that Batman needs help and requires Superman joining the action, teaming up with Batman and Robin along with other members of the comics over the course of the game.
For those returning to the series, the controls are simple and instantly intuitive, with your usual assigned ‘jump’, ‘attack’ and ‘grab’ buttons being complemented by the ‘switch’ characters button for good measure. Platforming in the game has been improved, with your character seeming to respond better to commands, although there is the odd moment when climbing a wall that your character would inexplicably jump away from what he was holding. This leads to a few irritating moments in the game when an entire climb up the side of one of the many sizeable buildings would have to be started again due to circumstances beyond your control. Still, I didn’t put the controller down at any point due to frustration in these instances (or quirks as I would affectionately refer to them), and the often smooth and responsive controls meant that any time lost was quickly made up.
Friends can pick up the second controller and jump in or drop out without any interruptions to the story progress, with AI instantly taking over sometimes questionably, but never really irritably. My brother often popped into one of my games for 30-45 minutes at a time and left without impeding my progress in any way, making the co-operative experience one of the most friendly and smoothly implemented I have come across yet, just like being in the arcades.
Clocking in at around 15 levels, the game will take you around 9-12 hours to complete, depending on how much of a completionist you are. Personally, I like to take my time and explore and see as much of the (admittedly endearing) game-world as possible. The game world is huge – you have all of Gotham City, Arkham Asylum, Ace Chemicals and the Gotham City Police Department to explore, find collectibles, unlock characters and save the citizens of Gotham. There are 250 gold bricks hidden throughout that unlock other characters such as Martian Manhunter, Hush and Flash to name but a few.
Visually, the game has never looked better, and I can’t really fault the efforts of Telltale Games in this regard. The company clearly has a passion for those delightful Lego bricks, and it shows in the overall presentation. Gotham City actually looks alive, with wonderfully characteristic architecture that really echoes the same Dark Knight vibe of the Rocksteady games, along with the superfluous beauty of the Lego universe, marrying the two styles in a complimentary manner. Real-world aspects such as fire, smoke and water add their own visual additions to the game-world. With the game world making the move from the platform focus of the previous games into one which is increasingly reminiscent of a sandbox, you can really see where Telltale Games is taking this franchise. Sorry to mention it again, but the DNA of the Lego City Wii U game can be clearly traced back to Lego Batman 2 and the (admittedly) huge stride it is taking forward.
The user interface as expected is simple, informative and effective. The only issues I had with the UI was when using the map initially, the switch to the open-world brings with it what could be seen as a daunting and confusing attempt to see where to go next as each mission is not explicitly sign-posted. Thankfully, after your first couple of attempts to see where you should go next, objectives become more clear and the rest of the experience becomes second-nature. There are a few niggles with Lego Batman 2, but they’re mostly down to the hardware the game is running on and not through laziness on the developers part. There are the odd moments of tearing in the game; luckily, the colour palette deflects this issue. There is also the odd moment of slowdown, but it’s usually limited to when two people are playing co-operatively and even then it’s rarely a hindrance on movement nor affective of the enjoyment to be had.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a fantastic achievement for Telltale Games, the Lego games having been yearly (even bi-yearly) released since 2005 have never really moved forward the franchise, until this iteration and it is a fantastical leap. Such so, I find myself increasingly excited not just by the Wii U release, but the sooner arriving Lego Lord of the Rings series of games and to see how Telltale manages to increase the size of the games world and still provide an interesting and engrossing experience. There are moments that do hamper the game, such as the initially daunting world-map, the random falling from ledges or walls, screen-tearing and slow-down, but Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is another cracking effort and definitely one to play not just alone but with friends.