Lego Batman is the 3rd entry in what is now a long running series of Lego style videogames. After the success of the Lego Star Wars series and to a lesser extent Lego Indiana Jones, is Lego Batman a step forward for the Lego series or is it too similar to Star Wars and Indiana Jones to make it worth you parting with your cash?
In Lego Batman what sets it apart from Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones is that you can play as both Hero & Villain. In fact there are a total of 50 playable characters in all including Batman, Robin, The Joker, Two Face and even Catwoman to name a few.
Being able to play as both hero and villain in the game adds a new dimension to the game and makes the game much larger than the previous Lego games. The core gameplay of Lego Batman remains true to the Lego series, which can be a good or bad thing. It is good in that at least you know it is going to be fun to play and the bad thing is there is no real innovation to the gameplay other than the different weapons and styles of the Batman characters. For example, some new abilities include picking up and carrying enemies and walking on tight ropes over the city. Batman and Robin’s abilities are governed by what costume or ‘tech suit’ they are wearing. These are located throughout the game and each suit has its own special ability.
Lego Batman doesn’t follow any of the movies; it is its own Batman story. While this may sound a good thing to some who want to experience a different Batman story, but I wish it had followed a few of the movies, like in Lego Indiana Jones, as it is funny to identify with lines from a particular movie and feel like you are playing through something you enjoyed watching. Being able to play as good or evil may have been more enjoyable if you were able to play through a movie you had seen from both sides.
There are 30 main levels in the game (15 for the heroes and 15 for the villains) as well as secret levels. The Batcave is the hub for the heroes and the Arkham Asylam is the villains. As you play through the story mode, each level you complete unlocks it for the freeplay mode, ala Lego Indy.
Using all the cool Batman weapons and the different tricks that the characters can do which opens up different gameplay elements is great, but at the end of the day it is still the destroy Lego enemies and progress to the next level gameplay that may becoming tiresome to us gamers.
The graphics in Lego Batman are not ground breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but suit the style of game beautifully. They are a slight improvement over Lego Indy, but the thing is Lego Batman doesn’t need stunning visuals, given the characters and world is mostly built with Lego pieces. However, the presentation is especially fun when you get so much character from facial expressions and the way the scenes play out, especially considering the variety of characters you can control.
The sound in Lego Batman is very basic, particularly the mumbled dialogue spoken by the “actors.” The game has movie-like music that sets the scene for different parts of the game and changes to suit the intensity of each scene, such as raising a few notches in pace when you’re attacked by enemies. Overall, the sound fits the game perfectly whilst not being spectacular.
The only multiplayer included in Lego Batman is a 2-player co-op mode where you and a friend play through the story or free play modes together. Unfortunately, it is only local co-op, not over Xbox Live, which bewilders me a bit. Being able to play co-op over live would have been awesome and not having hurts the game a bit.
Lego Batman is a very good fit for the Lego variety of games. Although very similar to the previous Lego games, there are enough gameplay additions to keep the game fun and fresh. Although there is no online play, the local co-op and decent length solo, story and free play modes make it more than worth the admission price.
Gameplay: 8.5 – Staying true to the Lego series style, Lego Batman is a simple and fun game to play.
Graphics: 7.8 – While it looks great for a Lego game, there was not a big improvement over Lego Indy.
Sound: 7.5 – Atmospheric music is good, but just hearing Lego pieces being broken most of the time is not going to make your surround setup work very hard.
Multiplayer: 8.0 – While playing local co-op is great, no online co-op is unforgiveable, especially when high tech games like Halo 3 and Gears of War do it so easily.
Overall: 8.2 – Fans of the Lego series and Batman fans will have a blast going through this. Those Lego fans looking for something different to Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones will be a bit disappointed. Overall, there is something here for everyone whether you have played the other Lego games or not.
Reviewed and Written by Craig Cirillo