LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes First Impressions - Picking Up The Pieces
Written Thursday, March 15, 2012 By Lee BradleyView author's profile
Batman’s back and this time he’s brought along a whole heap of super-powered friends with him. Plus voice acting, an open-world Gotham City hub, suits, abilities, powers and customisation options. There’s tons of new stuff! We were shown a tasty little snippet of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes recently and it’s looking ace.
For a while now the LEGO games, for all their charm and charisma, have been treading water. The series that redefined kids games has ploughed a happy little furrow. The LEGO Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter titles were all decent enough, but it was time for a change.
In creating a follow-up to the best-selling LEGO videogame of all time, Traveller’s Tales looks to have refreshed the formula. Batman 2 could be exactly what the series needs.
Once more, you take control of Batman and Robin, but this time you can also join forces with Superman and a whole host of Justice League heroes to stop the Joker and Lex Luther from executing their dastardly plans.
At the heart of it all is the open world area. Acting as a kind of mission hub, Gotham is nicely realised. Though it will contain weather and day/night cycles, we saw the city at dusk, beneath a brilliantly moody sky, with sheets of rain pelting down on the little plastic fellas below. It looks lovely.
Once in the city, you can take control of Batman, using your grapple hook to scale the heights of Gotham or jump in the Batmobile to screech around the streets. And yes, you can take down pedestrians. It’s just like GTA in that regard, the only difference being that you leave a trail of tinkering LEGO studs, rather than blood and crumpled corpses.
Take to the skies as a flying character like Superman or in the Batwing as Batman and it looks like even more fun. Playing as Superman our demoer soared up above Gotham’s roofs and swooped down under bridges in what seemed like the most glorious exercise in freedom. Completely free-roaming, it genuinely looks great. We’re promised the Batboat at a later date too.
Lead by a LEGO brick trail through Gotham, you have to grapple and jump and battle your way to the next mission. Some areas will be blocked off, almost Zelda-style, to certain characters, meaning that you have to unlock more of your super-chums to progress. Thankfully, there’s a whole bunch to choose from, around 50 in total. We caught glimpses of The Flash, Wonder Woman and The Green Lantern, amongst others.
The missions themselves look largely familiar. It’s still your job to battle through environments bopping baddies on the nose and destroying objects to collect LEGO pieces, before using them to construct a new set of stairs or a lift to reach a new area. It’s lost none of its charm, with Batman and Robin mugging their way through fights amusingly.
Mixing things up a little are suits and abilities. Batman’s Power Suit, for example, allows him to reach electrified areas that would otherwise be blocked off, while also powering up disused machinery. Robin’s Hazard Suit, meanwhile, can suck up water and other liquids then squirt them out through a canon to distinguish fires and such.
Similarly, each superhero has special powers for you to take advantage of. Superman can freeze and push objects out of the way with his Super-Breath and heat and cut through objects with his Heat Vision. Again, you can use these abilities on the innocent civilians of Gotham if you wish. A nice but naught touch.
While none of the various puzzles look particularly hard (it’s still a kids game after all), it’s the variety afforded by the open world, the abilities and the suits that impresses most. Besides, Traveller’s Tales greatest strength has always been pacing. With plenty to see and do in Batman 2, there’s no reason to suggest that skill has abandoned them.
In addition to all this, Traveller’s Tales has also teased a character creation tool. We weren’t shown this feature, so we don’t know how it works or how it will fit into the game itself, but we’re promised the opportunity to create unique superheroes with customisable characters. It’s an intriguing prospect.
Perhaps the most interesting new addition, however, is full voice acting. In previous LEGO games, characters made the odd noise, but never really spoke. In LEGO Batman 2, everyone will be chatting away.
Traveller’s Tales would not reveal to me who the voice talent is, indeed they only showed one line of dialogue throughout, from the Joker. A full reveal is promised later, but if the line wasn’t delivered by Mark Hamill (who plays the Joker in the animated Batman series and Rocksteady’s Arkham titles), then it’s someone who does a convincing impression of him. Encouraging stuff.
The only slight worry about this addition is that it could narrow the imaginative possibilities of the game. When characters are essentially mimes, it allows you to paint in the gaps, to allow your imagination to flesh out the character in a way that pleases you. Full voice acting gives that power to the author.
But it’s a nit-picky concern. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes looks to be a great addition to the series, with a decent mix of familiarity and freshness. The saviour of kids games has lost none of its power to delight. It’s a welcome return.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is slated for a summer 2012 release on PS3 and Vita.