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

LEGO This Tired Formula.

Much like the property, the LEGO games have always had the tried-and-true building blocks.  Simple controls and enjoyable combat mixed with poor AI and ridiculously designed puzzles.  With the release of LEGO Batman, these building blocks seem to have become more tired-but-true.  While it still offers plenty of light-hearted features, it's time for Traveller's Tales to take apart the formula and add a few more blocks before releasing the next copy.

There are plenty of territories that a LEGO-based Batman could have explored, but it mostly deviated into its own original telling.  Most of the elements were taken from the animated series and action figures with a sprinkling of homages to the films and television series.  It wouldn't be incredibly hard to create a bread-and-butter plot revolving around the Dark Knight along with his cohorts and villains.  This is certainly the case with LEGO Batman.  A ton of classic villains escape from Arkham Asylum and create a grand scheme to take over Gotham before the caped crusader begins to take them down one by one.  A clever twist in which the tale is told from the villains' side is a welcome addition.

The basis of the gameplay from the Heroes' side revolves around Batman and Robin switching outfits action figure-style in order to traverse each of the three chapters, split into five parts each.  The player moves the dynamic duo through each level's set of middling puzzles, smashing little LEGO henchmen on their way to the next boss encounter.  A few distractions can be found in the form of minikit pieces, red blocks which provide unlockables, and plenty of studs, the currency in LEGO games.  Overall, the same sort of things you've been doing throughout every other LEGO game.

On the flip side, on the Villains' side of the tale, things are a bit more limited to which character you can control.  While Batman and Robin are switching out costumes left and right, Clayface is only able to double jump with super strength and the Joker can use his joy buzzer to defeat enemies or start specialized machinery.  The potporri of villains is excellent, and only made better when going through each level on Free Mode, wherein you can play as any one of dozens of characters along with several randomly selected companions.  This helps bump up the replay value by giving you access to even more minikits and red blocks.

Despite the amount of replayability, I found myself blazing through each level, collecting every collectable I could, almost too swiftly.  This could be a boun for the game, since it doesn't necessarily wear out its welcome.  The only thing the developers should learn is to include online cooperative play, just as they did with the Complete Saga.  Leaving it out of LEGO Indiana Jones was a one-time excusable, but the time is now.  No more, Traveller's Tales.  Please.

I enjoyed my time with LEGO Batman, but the formula of LEGO games is quickly beginning to show its age, just as it did with LEGO Indy.  It's an alright game for as much as you can squeeze out of it, so if you enjoyed the past LEGO games, I can recommend giving this one your time.  I will certainly play another LEGO game, if only in the hopes that they address the inexcusable problems the franchise has been having.

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