The Phoenix Nest
this site the web

Lego Batman Review

The Lego games have been some of my favourites for a long time. As a child I loved Lego the most out of all my different toys, and even now there are a few kits I'd love to buy and collect, though I'd never actually play with them like I did as a kid. The Lego series of games keep the fun that makes Lego so unique. I picked this up for a mere $6.95 at EB.

The premise of the Lego games is, and always has been, pretty simple. Levels are linear, and you'll usually know exactly what to do to get to the next area. You take control of at least 2 characters, and each usually has their own talents, like jumping high or super strength. You'll need to use these talents to solve relatively simple puzzles and move on.

Lego Batman is no different to the rest of the Lego games. The setting and characters have changed, but it's still the same game underneath. This is by no means a bad thing. In this installment you take control of Batman and Robin in one mode, as well as many of the series' super villains in another mode. The stories of these modes remains the same, just in one you are trying to stop the villains and in another you are the villains trying to achieve your goals. Though the stories are the same between modes, the levels are not, so each story feels different from the other. The story is told though humorous cutscenes, and it's incredibly easy to follow, even though there is no spoken dialogue, as is a trademark of the Lego series.

During the levels you'll find yourself collecting things that will be familiar if you've played any of the other Lego games - there are 10 mini-kit parts per level, one red brick used to unlock cheats, and of course thousands of little studs. These studs, as always, are the currency in the game, and can be used to unlock new characters and cheats. The purchasable characters in this game aren't as interesting as they were in other games, due to the dual story; you unlock any characters you play as, meaning you'll unlock most of the villains as you progress. This is a slight annoyance to those like myself who usually take a break between levels to see what is new, but overall it doesn't affect the game too much.

So as you can probably tell, the old and often mentioned saying, 'If it ain't broke don't fix it', is pretty fitting for the Lego games. They're all ridiculously fun, even more so if you are playing with a friend, and have very little flaws. However... the flaws are there. They always have been there, right from the first Lego Star Wars game, and it's quite a shame that the developers, Traveller's Tales, are taking the saying too literally.

For instance, there are many ares with respawning enemies. This is a big no-no in game design, and yet it's in every Lego game I have played! Sure the enemies are easy to kill, but how are you meant to concentrate on the puzzles when new enemies appear from nowhere every 10 seconds? In fact, almost every flaw the game has is related to the enemies. Often they'll head straight for whatever character you're playing as, leaving your partner alone. Many times I've seen them run right by Robin and head directly for me playing as Batman, and Robin will just stand there doing nothing! And when your partner does fight, they may as well be whacking the enemies with a newspaper. I don't think I've ever seen my partner take down an enemy without me taking control.

Finally, the partner AI is pretty stupid. They'll follow you everywhere, but they won't really do anything other than that. There are usually doors that need opening by both characters standing on a switch at the same time, or pulling a lever at the same time, and the AI will do those pretty easily, but that's about as helpful as they get. Even that is sometimes painful. At one point I needed to get Batman and Robin onto a dual-person switch on top of a platform. Every time I got on the platform as Batman, I fell off and had to do it again, but Robin would make it on. Then, as I'd go back up, Robin would jump off and follow me! Surely it's not hard for him to stand there and wait for me...

That said, it's still an excellent game. Graphics are okay, nothing special, but they don't really need to be. The sound is great, with excellent background music and sound effects. Best of all is, and always has been in Lego games, the gameplay. As always there is lots of replayability here - my tip is to finish all of the stories, unlock all the characters and then go back and do each level again in free play, because you won't be able to get everything unless you've unlocked certain characters.

My verdict - Buy it! Don't make the common mistake of overlooking it because it's Lego. It may be aimed at children, but it's so much fun that you won't care.