LEGO: Batman The Video Game Review
By - Kai S.
I really cannot think of anyone who has never played with LEGO’s at some point in their life. Whether or not they actually owned them, I think every person has had the chance to build and play with LEGO’s at some point or another. Everyone seems to love LEGO’s and it is one of the few toys that have stood the test of time. Even as we grow older, the kid inside of us still sees LEGO’s and wants to start building something. So what happens when you combine a childhood favorite like LEGO’s with video games? The result is a fun, unique and creative game that is enjoyable by gamers of all ages. The LEGO video games series is always adding more great titles to its library and today I’m going to give you my opinions on LEGO Batman: The Video Game.
Now, to be honest, when I first heard about the LEGO games I wasn’t all that interested in them. I never looked into them much and never bought one. But when I had the opportunity to try one as a demo on my PS3, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give the series a try. After downloading the demo, I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having with the game. I no more finished the demo and immediately went online and purchased the game.
The story of the game is that the “residents” of Arkham Asylum have escaped. All of the crazy villains once captured are now on the loose and wreaking havoc on Gotham City. In order to stop the villains before they can do more damage, you set out as Batman (along with Robin) to put them all back where they belong. But, the games story doesn’t just stop there. Once you have completed your first episode of the game with Batman and Robin in the Batcave, you unlock Arkham Asylum. Once this area has been unlocked, you can access it and then play the game as the villains of Arkham Asylum. The gameplay is completely different from playing as a hero and quite unique getting the story from both perspectives.
The game consists of three episodes in the Batcave and three episodes in Arkham Asylum. Each episode acts as its own mini-game; you get a video before starting the first part that tells the story. From there, you play the five levels of the episode to conclude the story. After you have finished the last level and have viewed the end of the story (only on the hero missions, there is no ending story on the villain side) the credits will play, as if you just finished the game. The game features 30 levels in total, half you play as a hero and half you play as a villain.
Before starting each level you get a little story and background information on the villain you will be capturing, on the hero levels. When playing as a villain, you also get a short story before starting, but instead of getting information on a villain, you instead read some dialogue between the two villains, basically explaining their plan. After viewing the short clip and reading the information, you are dropped into the level. This is where the fun really begins. You control one character at a time and find your way through Gotham City. Along the way, you will be ambushed by swarms of enemies trying to prevent you from progressing. You will also find countless objects that can be destroyed. Your reward to destroying everything in your path is earning more studs, which can be used to purchase items in the game. Destroying items is also how you discover LEGO pieces throughout the city that can help you along your journey. Once you discover the scattered pieces, you can have your character quickly put them together. I absolutely loved watching Batman, Robin and the villains put all these LEGO's together at super hero speeds.
Each character in the game has unique abilities and skills. You will quickly discover which character can do what so that you are able to solve some of the puzzles in the game. Not only does each character have their own abilities, but Batman and Robin also have different suits. For example, you can change Robin into the Magnet Suit when you come across it in the game. This suit allows Robin to be able to climb metal objects and access areas that Batman would be unable to get to. You will be switching between the characters quite often in order to utilize their different skills, though I usually had a preference of which one I used whenever I could. The different abilities and suits in the game act as a puzzle as you have to think out different solutions and decide who will do what best and what you need to do in order to proceed.
The controls in the game were very easy to use and learn. Everything in the game is controlled using either the d-pad or left analog stick, to move the characters. The right analog stick has the ability to move the camera, though the motion of the camera is very limited and in some cases locked. Finally, you use the face buttons for any remaining actions. There are only three actions in the game, jumping attacking and grappling. When using an in-game vehicle, the controls are also very simple. As long as you understand the controls for characters, learning the controls for the vehicles is a breeze. The controls are so simple to learn that this makes for a perfect game for younger gamers. The controls work well and younger gamers looking for something a little more advanced should not have any trouble learning and using them.
In the game, you have two options for switching between the two characters, or tagging. The first is in single player mode. If you are playing alone, you will have to play as one character, with the other following behind you. Keep in mind, AI in the game will help in fighting off enemies, though they will usually get rid of one enemy to every 5+ you fight off. Other than fighting enemies, the other character will also assist at certain points of the game where both characters need to do a certain thing, i.e. when both characters need to step on a switch. However, the AI cannot pick up items in the game, build objects, etc. you will be required to take care of most aspects in the game, despite the character following you. If you come to a point in the game where you need to use the other characters skill you can switch between characters at the push of a button. The game also offers multiplayer if you have someone else to play with. The benefit of the way the multiplayer works is that the other player can join or leave at anytime, again, simply by pushing a button. When playing with another person, you can work together and progress through the game a little quicker while both players are able to collect items, fight enemies, etc.
There is just something about the LEGO games that really pulls me in when I am playing. I love the theme of the game, how it plays, the way it looks, etc. But, I think the thing I like the most is that you get to go through the city destroying things, but you also get the chance to “speed build” new items. Plus, you have multiple styles of gameplay. The basic gameplay in the game is action adventure platforming, but you also have a lot of puzzle elements. I would be going through a level not having any troubles, and then all of a sudden I would get to a certain point and have no clue what I had to do next. It was a matter of looking at what was around you and figuring out what you needed to do to progress and who needed to do what. There were actually some really challenging puzzles that really got you thinking. What I also enjoyed was that there was a decent variety of gameplay. Not only were the plenty of areas where you were on the ground and running around, but there were also areas where you were able to drive, some entire levels of driving, and also levels where you got to fly around. I found it to be a nice mix of gameplay and it also kept me entertained.
The difficulty, for me, seemed a tad on the easy side. For some, this may be a problem, while others may like this. The LEGO games are geared toward a younger audience, so this is to be expected. I never really had much problem in the game, no problems with killing bosses, etc. There were tons of enemy ambushes, but it was never too difficult to get through. The hardest part of the game was really just figuring out what you needed to do at certain points. I only had difficulty once or twice and had to keep trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. You are not limited to the number of lives you have, the characters have four health hearts. Each time you get hurt, a portion of your health is taken away. If you lose all your hearts, fall off a cliff, get smashed, etc. you will die. However, you can continue to die throughout the game and will be able to keep playing. Instead of losing a life and eventually ending the game, as other games often do, you simply lose some of the studs you have collected. This is only a minor problem if you are trying to collect enough studs to earn the Super-Hero/Villain status and/or are trying to collect enough studs to buy something in the game. This makes the game very easy to play for younger kids as they can keep playing until they are able to get past a difficult area, without having to worry about seeing “game over.”
If you are looking at buying this game for a younger gamer, keep in mind it can still be a little difficult. While it is pretty easy to fight off enemies and things in the game, and you don’t have to worry about dieing, there are still some challenging areas. There are a lot of puzzles in the game, everything from trying to figure out how to get from one area to the next, to trying to figure out how to defeat a boss. Some younger gamers may find these puzzles a little too challenging and frustrating. I recommend giving the game a try before giving it to your little gamer to see if you feel it is the right game for them. Because of the multiplayer in the game, it works perfectly to play along with a younger gamer as they can play along, but when a challenging area comes up; you have the ability to help them get past it.
Another thing I really liked about the game was the sound affects and music. The music worked very well and reminded me of something you would hear while watching Batman. It was definitely good music to have playing while going through the levels. It stood out enough that you knew it was there, but didn’t over power and take away from the game. The sound affects were just as awesome. I loved all of them, from the sounds when crushing things, to the sound of putting the LEGO’s together, I even liked hearing the characters walk. The sounds affects in this game are probably some of my favorites from any game, I really enjoyed them.
The graphics in the game are okay. It is far from one of the best looking games on the market, but it is one of the best looking LEGO games. There were parts of the game I thought looked really great and other parts that were just okay. I thought the characters looked especially great and their movements were always perfect, just as you would expect a LEGO person to look and move. Overall, the game looked pretty nice, but don’t expect the graphics of some of the newer games out there.
Where LEGO Batman: The Video Game really shines is in its replay value. Now, keep in mind not all gamers will want to replay the game. There is a main story to the game which consists of 30 levels. For me to complete those levels it took 17 hours. However, I was very into destroying the city as I worked my way through, i.e. there wasn’t a thing left that I didn’t break before I left. If you don’t pay as much attention to collecting studs in the game, you could finish the game in less time. If you are just interested in the main story of the game, I would expect a little over 10 hours of gameplay.
If you are a completionist and enjoy collecting items in a game, this is the game for you. There are so many collectible items in this game, for example, each level has 10 LEGO canisters and one red power brick to collect. You also have countless characters and vehicles to unlock and you can achieve Super Hero/Villain status in each level by collecting enough studs. If you want to collect every item it will require you play through at least twice. You can collect some of the items while playing the first time you go through the level, however, several items require certain characters or suits to reach them. This means you will have to go back and play the level in freeplay mode where you can switch between characters and collect all the items. This is definitely one area where you may need a guide to help you find some of the items since a lot of them are very well hidden, or may be hard to access.
I did have a few minor problems with the game that are worth mentioning. To start, I would really like to see some dialogue in the game. I realize that is a part of the LEGO games, having no dialogue, however, it sometimes could get boring not getting to hear a conversation, or even to read it. It is a minor complaint, but I think it would be a nice addition. I will say, however, they do a great job of conveying the story, even without reading or hearing what is going on, you know exactly what is happening. But I did find myself getting a little bored and/ore distracted at times when I was watching the story.
The next issue will be upsetting to some gamers and that is the fact there are no trophies available on the PS3 version of the game. While the Xbox 360 version does offer achievements, there are no trophies to be earned with the game. It is unfortunate because the game has plenty of opportunities for trophies and it would be a nice addition.
Another issue I had with the game was that it was a little too easy. I personally would rather play a game that is a little on the easy side than one that is frustratingly hard. However, this game is probably too easy for a lot of gamers to enjoy as much as they could. The difficulty level is pretty decent for children, though still challenging at times, but for adults wanting to play, there won’t be much of a challenge. This is another game where multiple difficult settings would be a huge improvement so that all types of gamers could enjoy the game. There really isn’t much to lose in the game since you cannot die, so you will find that you take a lot of risks while playing. Some gamers will enjoy this, while those looking for something to challenge them will probably not enjoy the game.
The levels in the game were quite long and this was a problem for me. I love the fact that the game offered a lot of gameplay, but many of the levels took me 30+ minutes to complete. This would be the perfect game to pick up and play for a little while and then stop, but I was often limited to only playing one level due to a lack of time. Because of this, I was often left wanting to play more of the game, but not being able to because I was a little worried I wouldn’t have enough time to finish the level. It was also a little random as to how long the levels would be, some levels would be under 20 minutes and others were 30 or 40 minutes. It would have been nice to see more consistency in the length of the levels. If you are able to spend a good amount of time with the game and are prepared for the length of the levels, it isn’t a huge concern, but one I had some problems with.
LEGO Batman: The Videogame has one problem that is common among the LEGO series. Once you have played one LEGO game, they are all pretty similar. Despite having a different story than other LEGO games, not much else has been changed. If you didn’t like the gameplay in the other versions of the games, or if you are tired of the serious, this game doesn’t offer much of a change. It is still a lot of fun and a great game, so if you did enjoy other LEGO games, this is a great game to pickup to enjoy some more of the classic LEGO game style.
My final, and biggest, complaint was with the camera in the game. The game offers you some control over the camera, but it is very limited. For the most part, you can move slightly from where they have the camera set and at certain points you have no control over it at all. The game is basically a two dimensional game, but has some three dimensional elements. The problem was that the camera was generally zoomed out and you couldn’t quite see what you needed to see. For example there one time I was trying to build something behind a dumpster, but couldn’t move the camera so I could see around it. The camera could add some extra challenge to the game, especially when you were trying to jump platforms and the camera would not be in a good place so that you could aim your jump.
Overall, I had a great time with LEGO Batman: The Videogame and had a hard time putting it down whenever I started playing. While the game may seem like it is aimed at younger gamers, it can still be a lot of fun for older gamers as well. For children, the game may be a little too difficult at times and they may require some help at certain points. However, most adults may find the game a little too easy. I recommend this game to any fan of Batman, younger gamers (I do recommend having someone that can help them if they get stuck) older gamers that are looking for a laid back game and anyone that has fond memories of LEGO’s from when they were a kid. If you are looking for a game that is really going to challenge you from start to finish or if you don’t like and/or are tired of the series then this is a game you might want to skip. LEGO Batman: The Videogame is a lot of fun for anyone willing to give it a try, despite a few minor problems in the game; it offers some great gameplay from start to finish.
* Lots of unique levels
* Different styles of gameplay to keep you interested
* Tons of collectibles and replay value for completionist
* Easy to control
* Great game for multi-player
* Great music and sound affects
* Some of the best graphics in a LEGO game
* Offer some challenging puzzles for adults
* Gameplay that is pretty easy for children, though sometimes may be a little hard
* Lack of dialogue was a little boring
* No trophy support for PS3
* Somewhat easy gameplay for adults
* Long levels, often 30 minutes or more
* Similar gameplay to other LEGO games
* Camera does not offer much control and is often in a bad position