Game reviewers are a powerful force, capable of bringing even the most powerful games to their knees with a few clicks of their keyboard keys. Who can save us from their diabolical machinations? Who can shed light on the shadow of malevolent opinion spreading across the internet?
I have no idea. Hey look, a Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Frankenreview! Let's read that.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes brings the full weight of DC's expansive roster to bear on the issue of "How the hell do we follow-up Lego Batman?" They could have just stuck to straight-up Batman sequels, but eventually Joel Schumacher would have to get involved, and with the toys already on store shelves it's too late to add codpieces.
Now one might argue that the Lego Group is only working with TT Games to create titles like Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes in order to sell toys. I say that's nonsense. I already bought the toys. Why the hell would they want to try and sell me something I already purchased?
Though you know, I could always make a Lego Batman army...I've got plans to make, why don't you folks make yourselves useful and read some review excerpts?
If the subtitle to Lego Batman 2 has your inner fanboy yearning to team blocky Bats with his plastic friends in the Justice League, then prepare for disappointment. Sure, the DC superheroes eventually join the party in this action-adventure game based on the DC line of Lego toys, but not until the end of the story campaign, and just long enough to tease a future, probably better game.
Until the last two missions, the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin go it alone or join forces with Superman to defeat the villainous pair of Lex Luthor and The Joker. Batman's extended rogue's gallery of villains is mostly ignored, given quick cameos, or dispatched early on like The Riddler, Two-Face, and Harley Quinn are during the first level. Most of the game is spent in confrontation or pursuit of Luthor and Joker, including an extended, multi-level battle with a giant Joker robot that goes on far too long.
...Traveller's Tales has elected to give the toys a voice. Well, one each. But either way, it's not something that sits particularly comfortably with the freedom and reliance upon imagination for which the Danish brand is so rightly revered.
That's not to say that it isn't well handled because for the most part, it absolutely is. The script and performances are both more than fit for purpose and hit the occasional high, although no witty retort is ever going to match the silent shrugs and overly confident flourishes that made the silent movie approach so successful in this format. With the power of dialogue at their disposal, cut-scenes take on a new-found and ill-fitting sense of self-importance — there's a nauseating air of smugness about it in places while other scenes seem to have been penned before the decision to turn it into a talkie were made.
It's tricky to peg down whether the shift actually works or not and while it certainly helps in terms of exposition in trying to tell an original story, you can't help but feel that at times, it's just using its new voice to paraphrase jokes that would fare far better had they not been translated from the visual language of Lego games past.
It feels like you'll almost never run out of things to do in Lego Batman 2. It's possible to finish the story mode without even approaching 30 per cent completion.
That's because the real fun in a Lego game is searching for new characters, finding hidden items, and gathering all the studs (money) you can. Collecting everything means scouring every major landmark in Gotham for villains, gold block kiosks, and purchasable vehicles.
Once you finish the story mode, this task gets a lot easier. Just like the missions, several locations in Gotham require you to use certain characters or Batsuits to explore. This is difficult until you unlock the Gotham freeplay mode, which lets you cycle through characters with ease.
The game's main challenge doesn't lie in its boss battles, its combat or its shooting. It lies instead in its wondrous sense of discovery; each level the player visits on their first play-through is filled with items that are out of reach for the characters they're playing with, beckoning them back when they've unlocked a few more.
On top of that, the game's hub environment is a gargantuan map of Gotham City, which the player unlocks incrementally as they progress through the game. Once the story missions are completed, players have the entirety of Gotham to explore and they can navigate it using some of the game's vehicles, hurtle through the streets as The Flash or they can fly through it with one of the characters capable of doing so — as a nice touch, whenever Superman takes to the skies, the John Williams score from the Superman movies blasts out of the speakers.
Moment to moment, the gameplay is much the same as in the previous Lego titles, and it's easy to see how ideas from other games have manifested in this one. Batman's stealthy sensor suit works much like Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. Wonder Woman's lariat is Indiana Jones' whip. Lex Luthor totes a deconstruction cannon that affects black bricks, much like the Dark Side powers of Lego Darth Vader.
Not that this bothers youngsters -- in fact, it's something of a draw for them. The fact that the core Lego gameplay is so familiar is all part of the appeal, giving them a solid footing from which to start their explorations. And they'll need it, as the move to a larger persistent world isn't without teething trouble.
The expanded Gotham does provide some navigational problems, though. Although the game includes a map feature-and you can place markers that create a Fable-like trail in the ground comprised of Lego studs-the markers blend too easily into the background and can be confused with those you pick up as currency to unlock characters. And while there's also a compass in the upper-left corner of your HUD when in the Gotham hub world, it's difficult to really tell where you want to go, especially when soaring around in the Batwing or taking hairpin turns in the Batmobile-the compass spins around faster than the Flash on a straightaway!
Despite these occasional navigational issues, though, this is still the most complete experience you're likely to get in a Lego game. Whether it's taking to the air as Superman, making constructs as the Green Lantern, or just sticking to the main story as the Dark Knight and rocking out in his iconic vehicles, gamers of all ages should be able to appreciate what Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes brings to the table.
I've already finished it on two different consoles. I am a freak.