LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes on PlayStation 3 is an absolute blast to play. The game is developer Traveller’s Tales’ follow-up to their 2008 LEGO Batman: The Videogame. This sequel adds a lot of new features not seen in that game or LEGO games in general. LEGO Batman 2 is the first LEGO game to have talking characters. The cut scenes, which are highly entertaining, feature pitch-perfect voice acting by a skilled cast, including DC animation veteran Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor.
The game also has a free-play mode that can be played in between missions, exploring the vast cities of Gotham and Metropolis. This open world format, another first for LEGO, is incredibly detailed, with many mini-games. There are over 50 playable DC Universe characters in LEGO Batman 2, providing tons of versatility. While the LEGO concept might be give the impression that this is strictly a kid’s game, that isn’t the case. The story and the playability have enough complexities to entertain even experienced gamers.
Lex Luthor, of Superman infamy, is running for president. He is scheming with the Joker (voiced here with glee by Christopher Corey Smith) to stuff the ballot box and win the election. It’s up to Batman (Troy Baker, hilariously deadpan) and Robin (TV and film actor Charlie Schlatter) to figure out what Lex and the Joker are up to and stop their evil plot. They set off on missions that take place at various locations throughout Gotham City and Metropolis. Many of the settings will be familiar to Batman fans, including Arkham Asylum, Ace Chemicals, and of course, Wayne Manor. The dynamic duo also finds themselves in underwater passageways, speeding armored cars, and an amusement park, just to name a few. All in all there are 15 chapters leading to game completion.
The playability of the game is easy for the most part. Moving the characters around requires only a few simple controls. More time is spent solving puzzles, looking for clues, and collecting things like Gold Bricks, rather than trying to figure out how to get from one place to another. The game offers a hint option where Batman’s butler, Alfred, will let players know if they are on the right track or not. He will also offer suggestions about the next move (his interjections can get tiresomely repetitive though). However, these hints don’t over-simplify the game. Solutions are not always obvious, making this game a challenge. Often items need to be uncovered or assembled to find new suits or other helpful items to make it through the levels. The boss challenges are fairly typical, involving fighting or shooting ad nauseam until the boss life wears down and they are defeated.
One of the weakest aspects of the game is vehicle control. There are a ton of different vehicles that can be accessed throughout the game—from the obvious (Batmobile) to the obscure (Gotham Zoo animals). Many of these vehicles, while helpful for covering long stretches of streets while exploring, are clumsy and difficult to navigate with. Another frustration occurs whenever you discover a Gold Brick or engaging in a Citizens in Peril mission. Your character locks up while the game saves, but bad guys like the Riddler or Joker’s henchmen can continue to attack you! This honestly lasts about 20 seconds, long enough to “die” at the hand of villains (not die permanently, you pop right back, but you lose health points in the process).
This game can be played as a single player or in co-op mode with another player (locally, not online). Playing with someone else definitely enhances the fun of the game and is highly recommended. Players work together to solve the puzzles and figure out what to do. The characters also do not need to be toggled back and forth as much, since one player can complete the necessary tasks for Batman while the other handles Robin for example. When Superman (Travis Willingham, perfect while verbally sparring with Batman) is involved, either player can assume the role of Man of Steel.
Keep in mind, the AI in this game is rather lacking, and when you abandon your regular character, he won’t do much of anything. Often times the levels require tasks that can only be completed by a specific character, so switching back and forth is necessary, especially if you are playing alone. One detriment to co-op play is the split screen—necessary for allowing each player to explore the open world freely—constantly changes angles, which at times can make it hard to see what you are doing.
One downside to this game is the save feature. It does have an autosave, but I have encountered the game not going back to that point and having to replay a level. Also saving the game does not put you right back at the point it is saved. Instead, the characters go back to the Batcave and must then get to the right location for their mission. It can be more than a little confusing. Be sure to seek out every manual save point you can find.
Minor annoyances aside, this is a totally fun, engrossing game. I can’t overemphasize the quality of the cut scenes, both the writing and acting. Robin is infatuated with Superman, while Batman begrudgingly accepts his help (but only under the direst circumstances). The open world play adds a lot to the game. Batman and Robin (as well as some of the other playable characters) roam around the city collecting different colored studs (currency), the aforementioned bricks, and mini-kit parts. New vehicles and characters are unlocked along the way. The characters can jump into vehicles and drive around Gotham City smashing into things, collecting valuable studs with every bit of destruction. On foot, the characters can break benches, light posts, parking meters, trees, and whatever else is in front of them to collect more studs.
The icing on the cake for LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is the inclusion of the classic scores by Danny Elfman and John Williams (from 1989’s Batman and 1978’s Superman) that heighten the authenticity of playing as these iconic DC characters. With hundreds of surprises hiding around the cities, the replay value is very high. Hopefully this series continues, I can’t wait to see if Traveller’s Tales can top this one.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PC, Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Vita.