No life passes without coming into contact with LEGO blocks. The old building blocks have been around for many years and are still extremely popular. The shelves in the toy stores are full of them. The great success is mainly due to the many films and TV series for which entire LEGO lines are made. In recent years, this trend has continued in the various games that have been released on various platforms. It started with LEGO Star Wars. All six films were reenacted with funny LEGO figures. After making three different versions of this it was time to switch to Indiana Jones. A few months later, it’s already time for the third franchise to rise again as building blocks in LEGO Batman: The Videogame.
Again all the characters are put in a LEGO world and make each other’s life miserable. However, LEGO Batman does it in a different way than its predecessors. The story is not based on the movies or TV series. No, developer Traveler’s Tales apparently thought it was necessary to put almost all Batman characters in the game and that is not just possible in the movies. So they just made up a new story. All the bad guys have escaped Arkham Asylum and it’s up to Batman and Robin to bring them back. You play it in three different chapters. They’re built around the wickedness of The Riddler, The Joker, and The Penguin, but you’ll run into plenty of Batman’s other familiar enemies throughout the five levels per chapter.
The Two-face in yourself is released
However, the second part of the game is much more fun. Once you’ve completed one of the chapters, you’ll gain access to Arkham Asylum and get to play the same thing again, but with the bad guys. You then get to see what they’re up to before Batman and Robin throw a spanner in the works. The funny thing about this is that the bad guys have all kinds of crazy powers. For example, The Riddler can take over unsuspecting people so you can do things in places you couldn’t reach otherwise. Poison Ivy can kill men with a kiss and Mr. Freeze turns enemies into ice cubes. The good guys don’t have these kinds of powers at all, but because you can only play with Batman and Robin in the good chapters, something has been made up. They each have four different packages that provide them with all kinds of extra options. For example, Batman can place bombs or smash glass with a sonic gun. Robin gets magnetic feet to walk on metal walls, a diving suit or some kind of vacuum cleaner.
This of course brings with it the possible options to make puzzles and that has been done in LEGO Batman. It is a pity that it is obvious what you should use the powers for. For example, when you are allowed to put on the sonic suit of Batman, the first thing you will encounter is a glass window or door. This clearly shows that it is really a game that is intended for a younger audience. At other times, however, you will have no idea what to do and it is actually a bit too difficult for the young people among us. In order to find the right route, it is usually best to smash everything around you and wait for LEGO blocks that you can put together to form a useful object. This amounts to the same thing you had to do in the game’s predecessors.
Same formula, no improvement
That’s the biggest problem with LEGO Batman, it doesn’t do anything new and literally takes mistakes from the previous parts. For example, the vehicles are still badly controlled and the AI of your fellow character is again to cry. Often it just stays still while being attacked from all sides. The biggest irritation, however, arises when you have to solve a puzzle where both characters have to do something at the same time. Sometimes one player has to go up in an elevator, while the other pulls a lever. The problem with this is that whoever is on the elevator usually doesn’t stay there. Fortunately, LEGO Batman includes the ability to have a second player join at any time by pressing the plus button on his or her Wii-mote. This can also come in handy if no other person is present, as they will then remain stationary. But I’ll stick with it, it’s not innovative.
LEGO Batman is again crammed with a large amount of unlockable characters. Some can be obtained by playing through the story, but most will have to be purchased with Studs collected in the missions. There are really nice characters from the Batman universe, like Nightwing, and also people I had never heard of, like Killer Moth. However, what I don’t understand is that it is also possible to play with uninteresting characters as a zoo keeper. Who wants to play with everyday people when they have a whole host of superheroes and villains at their disposal? So sometimes the game comes across as a bit dubious, but it’s still quite entertaining. The cutscenes are full of very lame and childish humor, but then again it is fun. Unfortunately, the music they have added is not appropriate. It is the actual soundtrack of the Batman movie from 1989. However, this music is way too serious for a LEGO game. It therefore feels more like a cut and paste project, than that effort has actually been put into making a decent game.
LEGO Batman plays exactly the same as the previous four LEGO games. It keeps the same formula, but also doesn’t add anything new. An unforgivable point, however, is that after five games, absolutely nothing has been done about the series’ mistakes. The controls in the vehicles are still bad and the AI of your assistant can be improved a lot. Traveller’s Tales has made a nice attempt to change something, by also letting you experience the story of the bad guys and the different skills that the suits of Batman and Robin bring with them. As a result, LEGO Batman still manages to conjure up many hours of fun on the screen. It’s just about time there was improvement in the LEGO games. So if you loved the predecessors and can’t get enough of them, LEGO Batman is definitely recommended, but if you didn’t like the previous parts at all, I’m afraid you’d better leave LEGO Batman alone.
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Author: Robin Kooistra | Genre: Action | Release: 20-10-2008 | Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive | Developer: TravelerGraphics: 7.5 † Sound: 6.9 † Gameplay: 5.0 † Controls: 6.2 † Playback: 8.2 7.2+ The possibility to play the story with the bad guys+ The different suits of Batman and Robin+- No improvement of old mistakes- Lack of innovation-