xantiriad's LEGO Batman: The Video Game (Xbox 360) review

Flawed Bat Caper

Pros: It's Batman; Lego characters are cute; the villains

Cons: Platforming hampered by camera; vehicle levels are poor; hub world has instant death; no online co-op; dodgy AI again! 

Lego Batman continues with the same formula used in Lego Starwars and Lego Indy. It is the usual mixture of 3D platforming and item collecting -studs, mini-kits & red power bricks- that have been hallmarks of the series. Where Lego Batman does differ is that we now have an original story and context that is not based on existing movies alone. Lego Batman is an welcome addition to the family but ultimately highlights the usual complaints about the Lego titles.

The Lego games are really the last bastion of traditional 3D platforming left in the current generation of video game consoles. For that we should be truly thankful. However, the cracks are starting to show, and the issues in the previous Lego games have still not been addressed: poor camera, instant death jumps, screen tearing, and unpredictable AI are still here and just as
annoying as in the last 3 games.

The switch to an original story, based around the various movie, comic book and TV interpretations of Batman, works well. It has allowed the developers to include some interesting new gameplay mechanics, specifically with the villain characters (always the best characters in the Batman canon). It does, however, make this Lego game even more fragmented when playing through on Free Play (where you can use any characters). You often have to toggle through 20 different characters to find the one skill you need to unlock a
particular door or object.

The sound effects are lifted from previous Lego titles, and the music has been licensed from the Batman movies. The music blends well with the "Burton-sequel" level design aesthetics. This is also probably the best looking Lego game to date, with lots of cool next-gen water and smoke
effects thrown into the environments.

Lego Batman is a good game but it feels like it should be the last in the current Lego series. Whilst maintaining the fun and whimsy of the previous games, the gameplay mechanics are starting to become tiresome. Adding more skills and characters doesn't completely make up for the poor AI and often unfair level design that continue to be a problem. Wherever the Lego series goes next, it must reinvent and resolve these issues or risk undermining the
good will it has generated so far.


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