Lego Batman 2 A Successful Sequel
- Monday, July 02, 2012
When I was asked to review Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes by the fine editors of this site, I was less than optimistic. I mean, I own both Lego Harry Potter and Lego Star Wars, and figure that I've pretty much seen the whole "minifigs re-enacting movies" thing. I didn't anticipate getting too excited about playing through another version of this kind of trope. Boy, was I both right and wrong.
Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes (hereafter referred to as "LB2", because that whole title is unwieldy to type over and over) is a successor to all the Lego games that have come before it, not straying too far from its roots. At the same time, it breaks a ton of new ground for the franchise, and tries to do some very ambitious things. Sometimes it succeeds, and sometimes not, but I'll definitely give them credit for trying.
First, the things that stayed the same. You, the player, are still in control of numerous minifigs shaped like (in this case) DC Superheroes. Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern all make appearances as player characters (J'honn J'honnz, the Martian Manhunter, also makes a cameo, but you sadly can't take control of him). Lex Luthor and the Joker are the big bads, but Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Penguin, Catwoman, and other of Batman's regular foes show up, as well. You'll never be playing as the bad guys, though.
The heroes proceed through levels in groups of two or three, using special suits for both Batman and Robin (much like the first game) to unlock special powers that are needed to progress through simple puzzles to complete each level. You bash everything that's not nailed down to collect little Lego nubs, the currency of the game. You can't die, you just suffer a nub penalty and are respawned at your last point if you take too much damage. If you like the style of the puzzles and combat from the first game (or any Lego game), you're going to love this.
Now, the changes... Voices! All the characters have voices; a first for a Lego game. Gone are the days (hopefully for good) of all the minifigs inarticulately grunting like Charlie Brown's teacher. Instead, you get conversations between characters that are fairly well voice acted. This means fewer sight gags and slapstick, replaced by dopey humor that can occasionally get even a jaded adult video game reviewer to crack a smile.
This is also the first game that doesn't simply walk its players through a linear progression of a movie script. This is an original story about Lex Luthor breaking the criminals out of Arkham Asylum in exchange for the Joker's assistance in aiding Luthor's presidential campaign (which is an actual storyline in the DC comics universe, if you weren't aware). Most of the enjoyment I got from this centered on Batman resenting Superman's invincibility, while an awestruck Robin tries to remain loyal to Batman while still getting a little bit "fanboy" around Supes. This part was very fun, in my opinion.
Finally, the game itself progresses through an open world-style Gotham City, a la the Grand Theft Auto or Assassin's Creed franchises. It's an ambitious attempt that didn't quite hit home with me. Unfortunately for me, I felt like the radar system that's supposed to guide the player from quest line to quest line was very janky. I often ran around an area for a long time, trying to find the designated area where I was to meet my next quest giver. It was frustrating, especially since I wasn't really interested in "exploring the city", and just wanted to progress in the main storyline.
By this juncture, you might be asking, "Well, did you like the game, or not?" No, I didn't really, but I'm not the target audience for this type of game. If I were an 8 year old, I would have loved it; I know my 5 and a half year old had a blast with it.
The Lego franchises (even one as well done as this game, which was by far the best of the ones I've played due to the voice acting) just aren't geared for adults. They're kid's games at heart. That's not to say you won't like it as an adult, but you just need to be in the right mood for it.
While I have to give the game's designers props for attempting something new with the open world Gotham, I ultimately don't think it worked for me when compared with other, more mature open world games I've played. If you (or your kids) haven't played any other of these type of games, you may enjoy it more than I did.
Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. I noted the following things that may be of concern to some of our readers:
Sexuality: Seriously? Nada
Violence: If breaking apart minifigs is a problem, then you might have an issue.
*This article first published July 2, 2012
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