You can always rely on the LEGO games for a couple things – A good sense of humour, a major cast of relevant (and irrelevant) playable characters, and an eerily consistent and familiar gameplay engine that’s followed the same mechanics (with a few tweaks here and there) for the past decade. Sometimes, it’s a bad thing, but really, the familiarity and consistency of the LEGO games means that it’s really easy for a family games night since you know exactly how to play and how to get into the game. Now, the new LEGO Batman game is here, which is one of the better franchises in my opinion.
Please note – This review was conducted on one of the next gen console versions. Handheld versions may vary.
Lego Batman 3 is developed by Traveller’s Tales and published by Warner Bros Interactive
Release date: November 11th, 2014
Rated: E 10+
Consoles: Numerous (please visit the bottom of this blog for links)
The LEGO Batman series thus far has been a treat. The first game was the first that I ever 100%’d both in-game and achievement-wise (I couldn’t complete a lot of the Lego Star Wars Original Trilogy stages without dying, especially Hoth) and I 100%’d the second game, but don’t think I got all the achievements. I’m not that much of a Batman fan (but I don’t think there will ever be a LEGO game based on Archie Comics) but the game’s great writing and tongue-in-cheek humour have won me over. The 2nd game was made more special by the fact that it was the first to feature an open world style Gotham City, the implementation of a lot of the DC universe and the in-game rivalry between Batman and Superman. If you haven’t yet played it yet, you can still pick it up at Best Buy, and it’s worth every penny.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is promised to be a treat too, featuring a cast of over 150 characters (including DLC) and various eras of Batman. There’s a huge voice cast involved as well, featuring the legendary Adam West, Olivia d’Abo and Stephen Amell. Conan O’Brien and Kevin Smith even make cameos.
This is probably the most complicated story lines, featuring the Joker and friends, along with Brainiac and Sinestro. You also get very early control of much of the other DC Universe, like Wonder Woman, Cyborg and the Martian Manhunter. This is realistically the most complicated and involved storyline I think I’ve ever seen in a Lego game, but as always, however, the writers have done a great job tying everything together and keeping you from losing track of things.
There isn’t much new I can say about the gameplay here. It basically feels and plays out like every Lego game of the past few years. It begins in the main story line, with the cinematics you must watch. Levels consist of various objectives that usually involve building things, and putting them into effect. Along the way, you can collect minikits to build in-game objects (10 minikits per stage) and collect red bricks to do various things. This game probably has the best red brick effect yet, which I absolutely loved. Remember the 60s TV Batman opening sequence with the visual and sound effect punches (BAM! POW! SOCK! and such?) – One of the red bricks will bring those effects to life in your game. It’s also one of the few red bricks you can find a code for online if you just want to spoil it for yourself right away.
Each level also has a character in peril. This time out, however, it’s Adam West! He’s in peril in each and every level, and will refer to himself as “TV’s Adam West” in need of a hand.
Following the conclusion of every level, you’re presented with free play mode for that level, a gold brick for completion, along with any other objectives (ie. collecting enough studs to get “True Hero” status, or finishing a minikit.) There are 250 gold bricks to be obtained in order for you to get the bonus and work toward 100%. As per the other games in the series, completion is impossible without beating the game, as you need to unlock free play for all stages for you to traverse levels with all of the appropriate characters to do some of the impossible tasks the story line characters can’t do.
In-game, Batman and Robin (and many other characters) once again have different suits that they can switch to during gameplay. However, one of the most helpful additions is that you can walk up to the device and press a button and it will automatically switch the character to whichever suit they need for that objective.
One thing you (or the kids) will notice right away is that the game is a bit harder than other LEGO titles. The puzzles aren’t impossible, but some are much more difficult to figure out than they were in past games. This isn’t a gradual state either – It basically hits you in the third or fourth story level that this isn’t the walk through the park the first two games and pretty well all other LEGO games were. This also means that the levels may take you longer to complete, and thusly, the story mode should add a couple more hours of gameplay than usual. With LEGO games now, you know what you’re getting from the gameplay engine, and how it plays out. Content and plot is more relevant now than ever. This game has a winner of a plot, and the integration of the justice league family is always fun too.
One of the problems that continues to plague the Lego games in general is crashing. During the original Harry Potter, my game used to crash in the middle of levels so often that I went out and bought a new Xbox 360 Hard Drive, assuming that was the problem. The problem continued into that game, and the next one, and the next one, and the next one. I had assumed the problem was cleared up with Lego Batman 2 (since I had no issues at all) but wouldn’t you know it – 30 minutes into the game, it crashed. It happened a few more times too throughout the review. I don’t know what the software updates fixed but it wasn’t that.
Graphically, things are fine. The water and rain effects are brilliant, and the cinematics are too. In-game, I still feel in ways like I’m playing on the last generation system, but I stand by the fact that it’s pretty hard to dress up LEGO any better than they did last gen. What are you going to do, add more shine effects?
The soundtrack is a winner as always, as is the voice acting. There are so many kickbacks and homage bits that will bring out the nerds in all of us, and as has been the case in the past, it really enhances the overall experience.
LEGO Batman 2 suffered from clunky controls, and not surprisingly, LEGO Batman 3 does as well. Controls were the biggest downfall in the game 2 years ago, mapping too many features to certain buttons. We have that same problem here, where certain necessary functions are nixed out too often for standing a fraction of an inch too far/close and then doing something else. The game still costs you studs if you die in action, though I don’t think it’s quite as unforgiving as before. I admit I haven’t yet hit 100% on this one, and I may go back at some point to do it since I did it the first two games. While I’m not as fond of this one as I was LEGO Batman 2, I think you and the kids will still enjoy it for what it is.
In the end, LEGO Batman 3 delivers another good LEGO game. It’s a good title for the family, and the young ones (and parents playing with the young ones) will enjoy it. But for the jaded gamer, the old adage “seen it once, seen it 1000 times” applies here. Even with the new characters, new plot and Adam West, you’ll feel a sense of deja vu that you’re playing the same game over again.
Gameplay: 3.5 / 5
Graphics: 4 / 5
Sound: 4.5 / 5
Controls: 3 / 5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4 / 5
Overall Rating: 3.8 / 5 (76%)
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is now available at Best Buy and online at BestBuy.ca for the following:
Purchase PlayStation 3 Console with the game and the Sly Collection