Posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 at 7:14 AM by Kimo Kuppe
Who never had a good time with Lego? The only people I can think of are people who argue about whether or not it’s “Lego” or “Legos” or my mom after stepping on one when I was a lad. Lego has grown quite a bit over the years from non-descript spacemen in colored suits and pirates to themed sets with stories and licensed properties. Personally I’m a bit torn on them doing that even though as a kid my brother and I made Lego Back to the Future Deloreans thus violating many copyright laws. However it’s not all bad because the Lego games have been generally pleasant experiences. Lego Star Wars has made the prequel movies palatable, and Lego Indiana Jones, Batman, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean have been charming and accessible games to unite casual and serious players in multiplayer. I know that I can break out a Lego game with people who generally don’t play games and we’ll both have a blast. So this week I thought I’d break out of talking about games 2 decades old and talk about something new with a review of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.
Everyone loves Batman, he’s an OK guy! He’s currently enjoying popularity that none of the other DC characters seem to get. Sure Superman’s an American icon but Batman just seems to win people over these days. Not sure if it’s the mainstream legacy from the 1960’s Adam West Batman TV show or the movies from the late 80’s or what, but everyone’s got some sort of nostalgia it seems. For me it’s a combination of watching the Adam West Batman reruns and the 90’s featuring the much beloved Batman: The Animated Series. Unfortunately this is a Video Game site otherwise I could write all day about how great B:TAS was with its “mystery” approach to the stories each time so I’ll move on. B:TAS is why Kevin Conroy is frequently the voice of Batman these days; he’s MY generations Batman and always will be! The Lego Batman games, while independent of B:TAS still use the character design and music from it so its close enough for me. Lego Batman 1 was pretty much the same as the other Lego games, each character had an ability that would work on certain things scattered throughout the level and since you couldn’t die or lose any of the Lego games it was basically just a collect-athon. Not that that’s a bad thing really, it’s just not as much of a challenge as it was in other collect-athons like say Banjo Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64. Lego makes up for that by being… well Lego! You earn custom characters to make and get to goof around with unlockable modes like making your horses poop money and wear Groucho Marx glasses.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes deviates slightly from the old games. No longer do you have a Hub that you just walk to a map of the levels and go from there. Now you have a smaller hub to show off what you’ve earned but a GTA style city that has points to send you to levels. The levels themselves haven’t changed much in style but have been tweaked slightly to allow for the new flying characters. The biggest change to the game is the addition of dialogue and voice acting instead of a plot that could be acted out with pantomime. All the tenants of the old game are still there for better or worse. Without spoiling the “complicated and deep” story it has something to do with Lex Luthor inventing a device that runs off of Kryptonite that can break Batman’s equipment and vehicles so it’s a good opportunity to break out the best and occasionally obscure heroes and villains of the DC universe.
What I Liked!:
Like I said, I like the Lego games. They are charming and adorable and even as a sour old man with a cold black heart (age 26) they are a nice dose of nostalgia and I’m a sucker for collect-athons. That, and I tend to favor DC over Marvel these days and really want to see more (good) media featuring the DC cast. Strange that the closest I can come to a good Superman/Wonder Woman/ Green Lantern game is a Lego one where they are severely limited. Oh well, someday my dreams will come true. Plus there’s always the Arkham games. If you liked all the other Lego games thus far you’ll probably enjoy this one or go mad because it’s so similar and you hunger for new innovation. Although to be fair the game does have new features to be covered in the next section.
What I DIDN’T Like!:
The dangerous thing about asking a game company to do something new with a franchise is occasionally they actually do it, and it sucks. The most horrible words that can be written about a game are “adding a GTA-style map” when the game really doesn’t need it. Grand Theft Autos world set up works for them but shouldn’t just be applied to every game. Rockstar pours a towering amount of effort into making a world and games that shoe-horn it in don’t bother, and boy does it show. Lego Batman 2 features a goofy driving system between levels that’s difficult to see during split screen multiplayer and particularly clunky to use. This causes a problem during one point in particular when the next level is a moving target that you need to chase. The city is set up to make it easier but is still a bit difficult to use and navigate thanks to the game taking place at night during a rain storm and liberal use of bloom technology. Granted you could argue that’s really what things look like when it rains at night in the city but that’s beside the point, were playing this for fun not realism! The driving mechanic gets even clunkier when you use a flying character like Superman. I’m certain both of these can be mastered by more serious players but to the casual crowd that the game has appealed to so far this might make things a bit too annoying. Also annoying to some might be the voice acting and dialogue. Personally I liked it when they had to pantomime everything and at best communicated with grunts and chuckles. Batman spending the entire came speaking only in grunts of “hmm” was a joke in itself. The writing is about on par for a kids show. Clancy Brown who voiced Lex Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series reprises his role, however all the other characters are new actors. No Mark Hamill Joker for us.
Despite the flaws I still find it to be an enjoyable game that’s true enough to the Lego games they’ve made so far. If you liked those games or just Like Batman and the DC universe check it out, especially if you have kids or friends who are casual players. Lego games have made decent date nights with nerd girls and I would highly recommend you give them a try. However if you are looking for a more serious or challenging game I’d look elsewhere, try Dark Souls.
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