Review: LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes

Review: LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes

Ever wondered exactly how awesome it would be to play as practically everybody from the DC universe in an open-world Gotham City built entirely of LEGO? I have, and now I know – it’s totally awesome. Mostly.

LEGO Batman 2

Superheroes and LEGO, A Marriage Made In Heaven

LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes will be familiar to absolutely anyone who’s ever played any of the LEGO games. You play as a LEGO version of the hero of choice (in this game, Batman) and you’ll play through various different levels of ridiculously easy fighting, destroy everything in sight in your quest to collect bits of LEGO that count as currency and generally have a jolly old time seeing the world of your favourite heroes gloriously recast in your favourite toy from your childhood.

If you’re a Batman fan, there’s a lot to love about LEGO Batman 2. Developers TT Games have really delved into the Batman history books with this one, taking a dollop of inspiration from the legendary Batman: The Animated Series, mixing it up with the lore of various DC comics and throwing practically every villain from Lex Luthor to Clayface into the mix for good measure.  Add in a whole host of other Batman related goodies like trademark vehicles like the Batwing, Robin Motorcycle and more being recast into LEGO and you’ve got a surprisingly robust package for any discerning Bat-fan.

If you aren’t as big of a Batman fan as I probably am, there’s still a lot to love about LEGO Batman 2. The game plays the majority of the time like a LEGO Grand Theft Auto – putting you in a huge, open-world version of Gotham City with absolute masses of stuff to do. Whether it’s collecting the 150 golden LEGO bricks, finding new characters to unlock or hunting down secret vehicles, LEGO Batman is literally crammed full of about the same amount of content as you’d find in a decent-sized RPG. This level of depth means the game will literally keep you playing for hour upon hour; after completing the story I found myself only having completed a staggering 20% of the entire game, meaning I still had a huge amount of Gotham City to explore.

LEGO Batman 2

Bricks, Powers and So Many Characters

Exploring Gotham is only part of the fun; although there’s a load of Gotham City to look around, there’s also a whole load of ways to explore it as well. As you may guess by the game’s ‘DC Superheroes’ subtitle, LEGO Batman 2 also allows you to play as characters from the DC comics such as Superman, The Flash, Wonderwoman, Robin, Green Lantern, Cyborg and many, many more. You can even actually play as the villains once you’ve defeated them, meaning there’s some incredible versatility here.

Each character has specific abilities – Batman and Robin have a variety of suits that give them unique powers such as enhanced climbing, freeze guns and the ability to wander through electricity, while characters such as Superman and Wonderwoman have the ability to fly and also possess unique powers like laser-eye vision, the Lasso of Truth and a whole load more.  You can only play as some of the superheroes at specific points in the story when they show up, but once you’ve finished the story mode you can literally choose to play as whoever you like whenever you like and go off exploring.

Admittedly some of the characters are all a bit samey (Cyborg has many of the same abilities as Superman and Robin’s Magnetic Suit) but it’s still pretty cool to be able to pick exactly who you want to be and enjoy wandering around Gotham City, spotting sights such as Ace Chemicals (the place where the Joker was born), Gotham Botanical Gardens, Arkham Asylum, Gotham Zoo, Wayne Manor, The Bat Cave and practically any other location that’s been in Batman over the years. There’s even a brief visit to Superman’s home of Metropolis at some point, but I won’t spoil the finer details of that plot-point for you here.

Gameplay wise, LEGO Batman 2 is pretty simple. You wander around, you break stuff, you collect stuff, you solve pretty simple puzzles  and then you punch a villain a few times in the face or chuck a batarang off their head.  It’s not exactly Dark Souls – in fact it’s the exact opposite as it’s impossible to die – but it’s both a great simple set-up for kids who just want to have a mess around and big kids in adult form like myself who love delving into the Batman lore while enjoying some pretty easy to use and enjoyable game mechanics.  It probably isn’t for everyone and the game could be accused of being repetitive during the story missions, but once you get out of the story and start exploring, the game really opens up and you’ll marvel at finding the masses of collectables this game world has to offer you.

LEGO Batman 2

There are a few ropey moments in the gameplay though – there’s a few ‘on-rails’ shooter sections that might not be everyone’s cup of tea – but I found them pretty fun – and some of the flying mechanics of the superheroes can be a little hard to control at first.  There’s also – for some strange reason – an inexplicably long loading time after collecting a gold LEGO brick. Your current superhero will literally stand there for ages staring off into space after collecting one, and given that the gameplay still progresses while this occurs, you may well find your character being pummelled on and turned into LEGO bits before you know it. Since you can’t die it’s not a massive worry, but it’s still pretty annoying to have to wait over and over again once you’ve collected yourself a brick.

Other than that – gameplay mechanics are pretty tight. Driving around in vehicles is easy to do for the most part – apart from some vehicles which have crazy control schemes – and navigating the world is never a chore.  Like I said previously, story missions might get a little repetitive for those of you who like more variety, but you’ll probably be too busy smashing stuff up and collecting LEGO to care. Also it’s a daft little thing, but Batman doesn’t kill people, but in LEGO Batman 2 he’s got no problem punching people until they explode into LEGO bits. Double standards much?

This particular LEGO title is somewhat of a landmark for the series – it’s the first time real voice acting has been used in the games, and it works pretty well in bringing the characters to life. Sure, the guy who plays the Joker is no Mark Hamill (although he really tries his best to sound like him) but all the performances are incredibly solid and tell a delightful little narrative tale that’s filled with nods to Batman’s past and the LEGO games’ trademark humorous approach to telling a story.

It’s particularly funny to see the presentation of Robin, who isn’t really that popular a character among Bat fans. Even Batman’s personality is ramped up to the extremes and presents him as a guy who’s keen to work alone and seems to be intensely jealous of Superman’s habit of stealing his glory all the time. It all melds together really nicely to create some wonderfully acted scenarios that’ll raise a smile to your lips. It’s not Arkham City by any means – the grittiest antics you’ll get here is probably the Joker attacking people with a Kryptonite gun – but it works incredibly well in the LEGO universe.

The Verdict

The fun of LEGO combined with the fun of an open-world city filled with masses of stuff to do. It’s a shame that crappy loading times, a few sound issues like looping speech and a few dodgy mechanics keep the game from truly ascending to the lofty heights of other Batman titles, but this is still an incredibly robust gaming package that’ll keep you playing for hours.

Plus I got a free Lux Luthor LEGO toy which now sits proudly on my desk at work. Can’t ask for more than that, can you?

Score: 8.5/10

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