Quite possibly the best Superman game ever released.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is arguably the best Lego game thus far. Much like Lego Star Wars III before it with its light RTS mechanics, Lego Batman 2 attempts to diverge somewhat and push forward the formula by greatly expanding its HUB, matching the breadth and size of an actual open-world, and including voiced-dialogue for the cutesy little minifigs.
Much like its predecessor, Lego Batman, Lego Batman 2 doesn't follow the narrative of any one particular movie series and instead cooks up its own, utilising a variety of characters from the DC universe. Though while it does most definitely expand into the overall DC spectrum of characters, make no mistake, the game is firstly titled Lego Batman 2 for a reason.
So, yeah, talking Lego! Despite the... 'controversy' surrounding the notion of giving voice to the otherwise silent roster of lego games, it all fits a lot better than you may think. Hand-in-hand with some decent writing (expect a sly jab at Arkham City), backed by an all-star cast of voice talent including Troy Baker, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Steve Blum and Clancy Brown--reprising his long-running role as Lex Luthor--adding in actual spoken-dialogue works very well. Further accentuated by its improved ability to now tell its own narrative.
The story itself is still standard fair, though. The Joker and Lex Luthor decide to team up so as Lex can force his way into becoming US President, while Joker just gets to enjoy the ensuing carnage and battles with Batman. Though it's all light and comedic, notably with the dialogue and characterisation between the contrasting personalities of Batman and Superman that make the cutscenes very entertaining to watch. If there is one such criticism I have for the story, it would be that there's far too few characters. There are a lot of unlockables characters within the game itself, but speaking for the narrative it doesn't extend its reach as far as I'd like. It primarily only focuses on the struggles of Batman, Robin, and eventually Superman, against Joker and Lex. There's still a fine cast of characters amongst the roster (including many Batman villains from the original game, along with such notables like Sinestro, Brainiac, and Captain Boomerang?), though most are restricted to short boss battles located around the city and aren't seen from a story context at all.
Lego Games of this sort have always featured a HUB for all of your unlockable purchasing, mission selecting needs right from the beginning with Lego Star Wars. Though none are as large as this lego interpretation of Gotham City. While the story missions themselves follow the exact same structure, you are also allowed to scour the city of Gotham. There aren't any side-missions or anything of the sort, though there are a large amount of gold bricks to find, citizens to save and of course, characters to unlock. Hell, you can also just get into a car and drive around running over stuff if you're in the mood for it, or head to the theme park and play bumper cars. And I have to admit, there's something highly comical about watching Batman slide down a helter skelter.
Though at first you're only restricted to playing as Batman and Robin, before Superman arrives on the scene taking Robin's place. It's kind of strange; the world will actually tether itself to the story almost like how GTAIV did it, so certain events that happen in the story will reflect in Gotham. As an example, once Batman's Batmobile has been destroyed and Robin attempts to fix it, you won't have access to the Batmobile anymore. And when Superman is stricken with kryptonite (oh, er, spoilers?), he won't be able to fly until the story dictates he's well again. It's a rather strange alteration from how the HUB functions in previous entries, and it also means that you can't actively play as any character you like around Gotham until the story is finished. Nonetheless, even as Batman and/or Robin alone you're more than equipped to scale many of the platforming puzzles available throughout Gotham.
Besides screwing about in Gotham, you have the story missions. Which, if you've played any of the prior lego games, you know exactly what to expect. Solving puzzles, platforming, and, unfortunately, more combat. While Lego Batman 2 has pushed forward its attempts of story-telling and the versatility of the HUB, the combat is still stuck in the same place it was when it began, made up of shallow button mashing. Ordinarily this shouldn't be too much of a problem, but there is an annoying amount of combat in Lego Batman 2 including areas with constantly respawning enemies. Sadly I'm also beginning to find the general design of the missions overall to be a little drab at this point. Unlike prior Lego games, with Lego Batman 2 I never had the urge to quickly head back in with alternate characters to find and uncover everything. Fortunately screwing about within the open HUB still took up plenty of my time, especially once I had access to more characters.
Both split-screen and online play for you and another player is of course available, though I should note that playing in split-screen can be a hazard for the framerate. It can bog down occasionally just when playing solo, but when another player plugs in, certain story-missions with the dynamic split-screen can leave it running at maybe 12 frames a second. If I were to bring up another complaint, it's that the flying controls when playing as certain characters can also be a little unwieldy. But hey, flying around as Superman while the John Williams Superman theme plays - bloody magnificent regardless.
Even with the numerous befuddles I had with the game, I still really enjoyed a lot of my time with Lego Batman 2, and I still think it's doing a grand service in pulling the series up to new heights. The humour is charming, the HUB is a joyful diversion, and the game also looks pretty damn good too, just as much as the varied set of animations are smooth. And with how Lego Star Wars III and now Lego Batman 2 have managed to stand out amongst their kin, it leaves me anticipating just what the Lord of The Rings lego game will do to hopefully help forward the momentum even further.