Giant Bomb Review

45 Comments

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Review

3
  • X360

Some of Lego Batman 2's new ideas work better than others, but at least this isn't just the same old Lego game.

Superman has to be the most useful Lego character ever.

Lego games have been in need of a significant overhaul since Pirates of the Caribbean more or less perfected the existing puzzle-action formula last year, so Traveller's Tales deserves at least some credit for pushing things forward a few baby steps with Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Far from a dramatic reimagining, this sequel still leans on the same style of character-switching and Lego-busting action that's anchored every Lego game in this series so far, but now these levels are bound together with a quasi-open-world hub level that gives this game a slightly different flow than all the ones before it. Also, now the Lego people talk. They talk! Those two changes add some new life to the well-worn Lego formula, though they won't be nearly enough to reel you back in if you've already had your fill of the specific Lego brand of action.

To be fair, DC Super Heroes isn't saddled with simply retelling the plot of a movie you're already overly familiar with, but still, you'd be surprised how much some real, actual speech enlivens the proceedings and creates some impetus to push the storyline forward. The dialogue is generally sharp and reasonably funny, and the plot gets a good bit of comedy mileage out of the somewhat contentious rivalry between Batman and Superman (something that I, as a comic book naif, was completely unaware of). Plus there's a giant robot Joker.

These games are usually good about doling out new characters to play with every level or two, but Lego Batman 2 feels oddly lopsided in that regard; it's only in the last half-hour of the story that you get a chance to use anyone besides Batman, Robin, or Superman, and even when characters like Green Lantern, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman show up at the very end, they only rehash the same powers you've been using the entire game with the primary trio. To be fair, Batman and Robin have access to a number of suits with different weird abilities, and the level design is good about making you (and possibly a friend) leapfrog back and forth between characters to clear obstacles that require specific powers. Also, as boring as I think Superman is as a character, he's downright amazing in this game since he's invincible, he flies, and he has most of the powers of all the other characters. That's refreshingly liberating.

The gigantic hub thing is where you pick up most of your extra characters. Before this game came out, when word was going around that "they made it open world!" and such, I got pretty excited. Who doesn't love a good open-world game? But that's really not what this game is at all, and ultimately the big open hub got in the way of my enjoyment more often than it enhanced it. The individual action levels still require you to load into self-contained areas, so it isn't like you're playing the story bits in Gotham itself. There's a pretty good amount of trivial side content scattered around the city--villains who you can fight to gain them on your roster, citizens who need help, and little urban traversal challenges that reward you with gold bricks--but none of it on its own is all that engaging. More damningly, the open city hub is just a chore to navigate. There's no permanent minimap--you have to drop to a menu every time you want to see the actual layout--and the onscreen compass is a poor substitute, as it's loaded with unlabeled icons that stack on top of each other and offer no reference point as to what any of the symbols actually mean. Vehicles aren't always easy to come by, and the frame rate got bogged down pretty often in the 360 version I played, so navigating the world generally felt less pleasant than you'd want it to.

Plenty of opportunities for superhero powers--and superhero comedy--here.

Then there's the core of the Lego experience, the clunky feel of which hasn't really evolved much at all. While the gameplay in these games has always been a bit rough from a nuts-and-bolts standpoint (though somehow endearingly so), I still wish Traveler's Tales would put a little more work into the basics of moving and fighting and so on. You run into a few too many instances of puzzle elements not activating because you're not standing in exactly the right place, or your character getting stuck on some wonky level geometry, or some other annoyance. I had Batman get stuck in a section of one particular level for about five minutes at one point, preventing me from progressing until he magically teleported up to where my other characters were for no apparent reason. The game is still plenty playable, but we've seen so many of these games that it's time for those rough edges to be sanded down (and surely they will be on the next console hardware, if not before). I'd be more willing to forgive a little clunk here and there if the open city were more successful, but it is what it is.

There's an undeniable charm to Lego Batman 2, from the pithy superhero banter to the nonstop swells of the old Danny Elfman Batman theme from the Tim Burton era (and let's be thankful the developer stuck with that Batman, instead of trying to shoehorn the brooding Christopher Nolan version in here). The game is still full of clever little uses of the Lego itself, such as waterfalls and fire effects that are made out of Lego studs, and that big Joker robot that looks like it's a real-life Lego set just waiting to happen. If the fundamentals were a little more refined or the new ideas a little more fully implemented, I'd feel better about recommending it wholeheartedly, but given the new elements in play here, you can at least take heart that Traveller's Tales isn't resting on its laurels.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
45 Comments
Posted by Xeirus

Uhh so there are no stars on the review!!!

First zero star game !

Posted by JoshyLee

ZERO STARS!

Posted by Sterling

Zero stars?

Online
Posted by Eidderf

No stars, something seems up here.

Posted by Maystack

0 stars? Wow Brad that's harsh.

Posted by PistolPackinPoet

FIRST 0 STAR GAME EVER?!

Posted by Mesklinite

ZERO STARS!!!!! The world has collapsed onto itself!

Posted by hussatron

I know it's some error, but I want to see Brad's 0-star avatar.

Posted by yoshimitz707

NOOO! THE PICTURE IS GONE!

Posted by Animasta

obviously 3 stars based on the review text

Posted by KatyGaGa

There is no cartoon Brad for zero stars? I guess its official Brad hates Lego Batman.

Posted by ILuvMsMarvel

NO STARS FOR YOU!

Edited by Dan_CiTi

ZERO STARS?! I didn't think the text was that harsh. This really as bad as Pokemon Channel?

(it is actually three I guess)

Posted by Chtasm

Someone just pulled a Brad on their own review...

Posted by Jimbo

Lego Batman is going to fuck you up when he sees this.

Edited by TooWalrus

Impressive, but I can't help but think the rating jives with the written review...

EDIT: Quick fix, nice!

Online
Posted by Brad

Sorry about the score. Fixed!

Staff
Posted by NTM

Yeah, that was weird.

Posted by Little_Socrates

Sad to hear it isn't more exciting. I didn't get the impression it was before release, but there was such a weird buzz for this game!

Posted by katanalauncher

lol Brad is just mad he can't make past first level.

Posted by Rmack

If I put my expectations aside and judge the game for what it actually is, I still think it's the best Lego game ever, honestly.

Posted by GunstarRed

I really don't think pirates did perfect the formula, infact I'd say it brought back a few problems other games in the series had fixed.

I don't really agree with parts of the review like the open world being unengaging, I found there to be more interesting stuff to mess around with than a lot of open world games,( Platforming, blowing stuff up, timed boat races, timed plane races, riding giraffes! the whole fun fair, etc etc) especially after youve finished the game and gotten all of the Justice League characters/ bosses. The problems with the map/compass really are a big issue though.

Sure, some of the platforming feels a little off in places and the ai is extra dumb at times, but there are a ton of new elements in the levels that you have never seen before in a Lego game, like the on rails flight sequences. The Superman one is quite wonderful despite being as simple as move the cursor over explodey stuff... or even the penultimate level that includes a freefalling sequence off the top of a building. They have put a lot more effort into making this game feel as cinematic as a Lego game probably could get and I personally think it's one of the best games TT has put out.

Posted by NapTimeSleeper

I agree for the most part. I especially found flying in the open world hub to be quite frustrating especially when attempting to land on a small roof.

Posted by TripMasterMunky

A lot of other places seem really up on this game.

Posted by Rmack

@GunstarRed said:

I don't really agree with parts of the review like the open world being unengaging, I found there to be more interesting stuff to mess around with than a lot of open world games,( Platforming, blowing stuff up, timed boat races, timed plane races, riding giraffes! the whole fun fair, etc etc) especially after youve finished the game and gotten all of the Justice League characters/ bosses. The problems with the map/compass really are a big issue though.

Yeah, I found the gold bricks to be as engaging as the Riddler Trophies, maybe even more so considering you can get new characters from them and not just an achievement. It's just too bad that's all after the main game is done. I never really had an issue traversing the HUB, though. The little clear LEGO bits acted as a GPS leading to story missions, and you can really just warp to most of the side stuff. Still, if you want to 100 percent it, I guess the crappy compass would be an issue.

Posted by Soviet666

Once you realize that the transparent blue studs on the streets are your "GPS" to markers or next mission, navigation in town get much easier. Also, the framerate is perfect on PC :).

Posted by Rmack

@Soviet666 said:

Also, the framerate is perfect on PC :).

Yeah, I can attest to that as well. Great version all around.

Posted by Video_Game_King
Posted by kkotd

Why are we still comparing every lego game to every other lego game and expecting some crazy innovative feel, instead of looking at each series as it's own thing? If you're out in the store buying one of these for your kids or even yourself, you're not buying them because you want something completely original and new, it's because you like the franchise that was mashed together with Legos and have either played a previous one or have heard so many good things about them in general. As they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That said, I think alot of us, probably Brad included are looking at Lego Undercover, drooling at what looks essentially like Lego GTA and want that game. While Lego Batman 2 didn't deliver on all of it's promises, it's still a fun game and does improve on it's predecessor in spades. Voice acting, new suits and more characters make this a truly engaging and enjoyable game for both Lego vets and newcomers alike. Not sure why it would get an 'average' score (fuck scores, really) but it is a good game that could have been great with a little more polish.

Posted by GooieGreen

@TripMasterMunky: Brad hates change, unless it is a Blizzard game. Teh bias money hat.

Sorry, I thought we were talking about IGN.

Posted by buckybit

Bob Dylan said a couple years ago, "Don't judge me by my own work. Judge me, by the competition I am in, right now."

I played the demo on the PC (with a gamepad) - it really IS charming ... and technically fine.

I don't buy shooters for the shooting, I buy them for the story. Same with this one. It's not the gameplay, that I am particularly interested in.

Unlike others, I didn't play a lot of the former TT LEGO games. This one is funny enough for me to buy it.

Posted by sonicrift

From what I've seen of my girlfriend playing, Superman is so damn obnoxious in this game. Batman agrees, and I really enjoy their relationship. Playing as Superman is done pretty well too. We've seen enough terrible uses of Superman to know it's not easy to get him right.

Posted by ddensel

Could've fooled me, this looks like just another Lego game. I've played one of those already. I'll pass.

Posted by Vextroid

@buckybit said:

Bob Dylan said a couple years ago, "Don't judge me by my own work. Judge me, by the competition I am in, right now."

I played the demo on the PC (with a gamepad) - it really IS charming ... and technically fine.

I don't buy shooters for the shooting, I buy them for the story. Same with this one. It's not the gameplay, that I am particularly interested in.

Unlike others, I didn't play a lot of the former TT LEGO games. This one is funny enough for me to buy it.

There's a PC Demo?

I can't seem to find it (Steam or Google) where did you get it?

Really enjoying the first LEGO Batman and it's only $30 on Steam. I might bite.

Posted by probablytuna

Hmm, I've been playing a fair bit of the game and I'm a having a good time with it, still there are annoyances that keep popping up, some of which were mentioned in the review like not having a clearly defined mini-map. For example, sometimes the camera would be in the worst possible place where you can't see what's going on (particularly that level in the Batcave) and there's no way to move the camera.

I like that they added a sprint for the characters when they're out in the city but couldn't they map it to a button instead of making it automatic when you push the stick forward a few seconds? I mean there are four shoulder buttons that don't really do anything, can't they make one of them for sprint? It's incredibly annoying when I'm trying to be precise around platforms or getting the studs but the sprint just screws it up. The controls for flying also take some time getting used to.

Still, the levels themselves are pretty fun, and that feeling when you fill the screen with studs then collecting them all at once is incredibly satisfying. Also, god damn if they didn't make Superman such a compelling character to play as (even if he is still such a jerk. Batman FTW!)

Posted by buckybit

@Vextroid: haha - I guess, we're all so used to Steam, we forgot that game websites used to host PC Demos.

here's one link to the LEGO Batman 2 Demo for PC - it's from strategyinformer.com

Posted by shiftplusone

I'm feeling the same way about the open world. I think I'll get the vita version since its level based like the old ones, even though graphically its not that great

Posted by jscro

I've been playing the game with my wife and I'm enjoying it much more than I thought I would. I didn't care for the first Batman game but this is so much better. My biggest gripe is that I'm slow moving around the map. I appreciate the open world elements but for the story stuff I like the classic hub. The writing, however, is the best the Lego games have ever had and the voice acting is outstanding, made all the moreso by the fact that they're used so sparingly. I was worried about the voices at first but Traveller's Tales has shown great restraint in their use and the game really benefits from it.

Posted by MEATBALL

So, say you could buy this game without the open-world...say on a handheld system like the 3DS or Vita would you say that would be the superior experience? When I heard the handheld versions dropped the open-world I was ready to take a pass, but after this review I'm thinking maybe that's actually a blessing in disguise.

Posted by dropabombonit

I was looking forward to this because I'm a big DC fan but from the review it sounds like the other characters don't show up until the end which is kind of disappointing. I will wait until a price drop because it still sounds like a competent game

Posted by Brad3000

Shoot. I have never actually given one of these Lego games a proper go. I kept hearing that this one was going to be sort of "the ultimate" version of the franchise and thought I might finally give one a try. Hearing that it's a letdown makes me wonder if I should. Would it still be a 3 star game for someone who doesn't already suffer from Lego fatigue?

Posted by A_Retired_Hobo

I'll still check this game out, but I'm going to wait for a price drop. I loved the first Lego Batman, so I don't think this could possibly disappoint me.

Posted by ocarinaofdime

@Brad3000: No. This is the first Lego game I picked up and I'm enjoying it immensely. Keeping it in mind though, I'm enjoying it because i wanted a light and simple game that wasn't difficult and took my mind off the every day grind. I had just finished Metro 2033 and Mass Effect 2 and I wanted something I could play with absolute carelessness. If you haven't played a Lego game yet, I'm positive you'll enjoy it as you don't have a plethora of other games to compare it to.

Posted by chilipeppersman

Nice review brad, but I dont think ill be playing this.

Posted by ctafield

I think certain groups of people are going to get more out of this game than others.... and honestly, I'm having a fantastic time playing this with my son.