LEGO Batman 2 - DC Super Heroes
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Developer: Traveller's Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
North American Release Date: June 19th, 2012
European Release Date: June 22nd, 2012
Trophies:1 | 4 | 8 | 25
Plug in a controller, and put back on your digital plastic cowl yet as Traveller's Tales delivers us Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Joining the LEGO Dark Knight this time around isn't just his trusty sidekick Robin, but a whole slew of other DC mainstays such as Superman, The Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. New to the LEGO franchise is the inclusion of voice-overs to accompany the story instead of your LEGO pantomime with your expected vocal gibberish.
Our heroes - minus Aquaman. Only Superman ever misses Aquaman.
Do the changes make this Caped Crusader's story one for the ages, or is this adventure doomed by the bugs that plague most of Traveller's Tales' LEGO efforts, ultimately pushing our heroes to suffer their untimely demise? Find out in the following paragraphs faithful LEGO Bat-readers, same Bat-site, same Bat-format! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)
For those of you who have played a LEGO game before, the gameplay is fairly par for the course with what you have experienced before. You will be running around, punching baddies with your C-shaped fists, solving puzzles by constructing and deconstructing anything and everything you can get your LEGO self to, all for those elusive little shiny things called "studs." If by some chance you lose all your hearts (your life, of course), you'll end up losing a chunk of your studs and get a chance to chase those precious suckers before they fade into oblivion. Studs are used to purchase everything from characters, to "bricks" which come in two colors - gold and red. Gold bricks are mainly obtained by meeting certain objectives such as finishing a level, finding all of a level's hidden goodies (this time in the form of Minikits) or collecting a certain stud amount. Gold bricks are your primary goal, because with meeting certain thresholds you find new areas, new objectives, and characters to unlock. Red bricks unlock special cheats that can be enabled or disabled to help you with anything from multipliers for your stud acquisition to invincibility. Finding a red brick isn't enough to enable it though. You will need the necessary amount of studs to purchase these little in-game boosters. Studs and Bricks are your bread and butter, even to a LEGO super hero with everything in his utility belt.
Where LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes stands out from previous LEGO games is the unique ability that both Batman and Robin have to change the suits that they wear in each level to solve certain puzzles, or get past certain obstacles. Each suit plays completely different than the other and has certain pros and cons. Batman's Power Suit, for example, will enable him to shoot hand rocket/mines that can blow up gold objects and also give him super strength, but due to it's bulkiness, slows him down considerably. Robin's Acrobat Suit will enable him to double jump, turn into a Zorb (I think this is Atlantian for "Hamster") ball at certain stations, jump up checkered walls, and execute longer combos - the trade off being his new found attacks now take longer with extra flourishes added to his moves leaving him vulnerable to group attacks. During the course of each level you will find multiple suits that will get you through levels, and also help you build up your combo meters to get higher stud multipliers.
Another new feature to LEGO games is the inclusion of an actual city, and instead of just having a picture or a door to access your world, you have an actual full scale world to explore and physically see your objective. If you need to get to the Amusement Park to stop Harley Quinn from torturing pleasure seeking bystanders, you could just use the Bat-computer from the Batcave (your hub, for LEGO aficionados) to teleport to your desired location or you have the option of riding in your desired Bat-vehicle (Robin's motorcycle ftw!) and drive/fly/float there and see the sights and sounds of Gotham and maybe even find a citizen in peril or a villain in need of a thumping along the way. Having both options is one of the best additions to date, and really gives scope to the world, without forcing you to do away with convenience.
For the most part it's your typical LEGO gameplay with some slight tweaks. Almost all of the additions are unique and cool. My main complaint for the new structure is that having the alternate suits for each level really feel like lost opportunities to include other characters. Instead of having a sonic suit it would have been nice to have got more chances to have Green Lantern show up and join the antics, or The Flash contribute during a boss fight in which his speed is integral. What you are left with a lot of levels formatted to only three characters who eat up the bulk of your playtime. That third character would be The Man of Steel himself, Superman, who is the third wheel in much of the game's narrative. Superman comes with all his gifts: flight, super strength, laser vision, and the cheapest ability of all - invincibility. Once Superman is available, the game becomes laughably easy for long segments because he can't die! LEGO games are already fairly easy endeavors on their own, but adding a character who can't die really just makes the game too easy. Sure there are moments in which Superman isn't at his tip-top and loses his powers, but for a large chunk of the game you're able to annihilate everything in your path as Krypton's favorite son.
The story mode starts out with Bruce Wayne showing up to Batman's annual "Man of the Year" award, in which it is him against the presidential candidate Lex Luthor for the honors. Shortly after Bruce takes the title, the Joker and a handful of villains show up and attempt to steal from Gotham's richest. As the Joker hijacks the award, Bruce Wayne takes the opportunity to sneak out, meet up with Robin, and switch into his alter ego. From there it's Batman shutting down the villains one at a time in typical LEGO fashion with you destroying everything in your path, whether it's for studs or the ability to reconstruct it into something more useful. Eventually the chase spills out to Gotham with the Joker running to his Amusement Park headquarters for some more weapons. Batman and Robin's combined efforts eventually shut down the bad guy, and as The Joker is being trudged off for his 481st stint in Arkham Asylum, Superman shows up in typical grandstanding fashion to both congratulate Batman and Robin and scold them for not doing the job with minimal damages.
It isn't long until Luthor, discovering the usefulness of the Joker, takes a special interest in him; and goes to break him out of the LEGO crazy house, thus forming the most dangerous alliance Gotham has ever seen. Batman is in over his head, but his own ego won't allow him to ask for help, despite how much Robin whines that it is necessary. Batman has to throw away his pride, and eventually request the help of Superman in order to overcome the duo's most dangerous foes in an adventure that will take the Worlds Greatest Detective and his city to the brink of destruction.
Either Gotham is in serious trouble, or it's time for the Lex Luthor Laser Light Show!
As the game nears the end stages, you finally get some other super heroes to join the fold, and the combined efforts becomes what you would want from a game with the title "DC Super Heroes." These are the game's strongest stages and are the most fun as you get to toy around with the likes of Cyborg and Wonder Woman in a world on the brink of destruction. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I really expected more heroes throughout the game than just what was given. The story seemed to be drawn up before the implementation of who the characters would be and what you are left with through the story is a primarily Batman-Robin-Superman vs Lex Luthor-Joker game. It would have been a lot more fun if the likes of Sinestro, Captain Boomerang, and Gorilla Grodd got some more action rather than just being unlockable characters for the post game. I understand that the likely reason for the 5-member based plot was to not confuse the younger audiences that the game is directed at, but the comic book fans out there who expected something grander will be left disappointed with the story mode and its extremely generic approach in character usage and plot choice.
Local co-op is back again, so you can grab a sibling/buddy/spouse/child/parent and have a bit of fun. The game persistently features two playable characters, and offers simple drop-in/dropout for a second player at any given point. When the characters get too far away from one another your screen will divide up into split screen and you'll be able to go as you please, which will be a lot because the worlds have never been bigger. Occasionally you'll get some slowdown and on an extremely rare occasion a loading screen in some areas. For the most part you're going to have a fun experience by yourself or with a friend. The most likely problem you'll have with co-op is deciding who gets to play as Superman!
The only other major issue is that almost always when you add co-op into the mix you're a lot more likely to have glitches pop up. You're twice as likely to get stuck, frozen, unable to see a brick, or in the most dire of situations for the trophy hunters out there - a glitched trophy that just won't pop. The multiplayer is more fun, with a friend along for the ride, but it's a double-edged batarang since you're a lot more likely to have something go wrong.
Anybody who has ever played a Traveller's Tale LEGO title knows that there is a higher chance than almost any other game out there of having something go wrong at some point in your playing experience. Before I address the sound or controls, it would be a disservice to the gamers out there not to let you know that you're likely to find something at some point that is just going to break on you, and you're going to have to redo a level, or in the worst of cases for Platinum hunters, restart the whole game. I've been fairly lucky in my LEGO adventures to date, but this title offered the grandest form of kryptonite in my LEGO trophy hunting adventures to this point. In one level I needed to hit a certain number of cars to get a gold brick, but one of the cars just would not pop - it took me well over 20 times of doing the level to finally see this car appear and get that gold brick done with. It was beyond frustrating and really left me feeling like the game was giving me a dose of Joker gas.
Why yes Bane, those glitches could be very painful!
The latest addition to the LEGO series is the addition of voice acting. The new voiced additions do a nice enough job of making the story a bit more tangible and the plot a helluva lot more easier to understand. All the voice actors do a decent enough job, but are nothing special, especially for anybody who has grown up with Batman: The Animated Series or visited The "Nolanverse" lately. The issue I have is that a lot of the LEGO charm and comedic elements suffer from not having the pantomime that many of us have grown to love. The silliness is gone, and without it goes a few chuckles that I normally get from my LEGO games. I personally don't like the addition, and wish they would go back to silent storytelling because it was one of the features that make LEGO titles special. This just feels like another kids game cartoon variation with the vocals.
The controls are fairly standard and responsive for their simplistic functions. Many of the features such as batarangs, rockets, or eye lasers are used more heavily than your regular attacks and require you to hold down the attack button. These constant button holds can be tedious at times and you almost wish there would just be a separate button to use them because of how frequent you'll be holding down the buttons. It's a minor annoyance but something that would be easily fixable since you already have three separate buttons for just changing characters.
The times you'll likely find yourself wanting to chuck a controller will be anytime you are inside a vehicle. Whether it's flying the Batwing, driving the Batmobile, or driving a bird-shaped pedal boat, you'll find yourself fighting unnaturally tight turning, unusually stiff commands, and a camera angle that is so atrocious, you get the hunch the Penguin has a remote control of and is cackling away turning a steering wheel as you try to move. Driving was probably my least favorite part of the game, and it appears that Traveller's Tales still has no clue how a vehicle is supposed to control - that or they are actually taking the physics of LEGOs to a whole new level.
Film buffs will get a special treat as the soundtrack for many of the Batman sequences are from the Danny Elfman scored films, and the Superman sequences have the John Williams score from his work on the 1978 films signature theme. Anybody who's a fan of the movies will easily be humming along through many of the games cut scenes and character centered plot pieces.
As with all LEGO games you're pretty much going to have to do everything in order to get the Platinum on this plastic comic book caper. There are a few gimmicky trophies, but the majority will come from story progression, reaching certain completion percentages, and acquiring all of the games characters, vehicles, bricks, and minikits. If you're lucky enough to have the spirit of LEGO Bob Kane looking over you, this should only take around 20 hours or so to finish, but if something messes up that total can quickly double, or even triple.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is pretty much what you would expect from a LEGO game. If you play it purely for the LEGO aspects of the title you're going to find yourself having a fun time as each and every stud and brick inches you closer to that 100% total. If you're a comic book fan and are expecting the DC super heroes to make their big splash in the video game world - you're going to be sadly disappointed, as the majority of the game is heavily focused on the company's big two (oh, and that Robin guy with the cool motorcycle) and their respective antagonists. The plot is decent, though predictable, but really loses any lasting appeal because of it's inability to step out and take chances. The game may be marketed to children, but that doesn't mean that there couldn't have been more fan service for the older fans of the characters as well.
The inclusion of voice-overs was a negative for me, and although played their part for what they were, weren't an aspect I personally enjoy in my LEGO games. The glitches are still there, although it's almost an expected part of the package with LEGO titles, so you're likely to find some hiccups, or in some cases major roadblocks to the process of what should be an enjoyable immersion into LEGO Gotham with the puzzles and challenges we've grown to love within a LEGO franchise.
It's not Batman and Robin bad, but it's not Dark Knight great either. What you're left with is a middle of the road Batman experience with a little less LEGO charm than you're used to, and all the bad stuff you've come to expect from Traveller's Tales. If only Robin could have been caught in a giant clam and rescued by Aquaman - oh well, there's always LEGO Batman 3.
If you've played a LEGO game before, you know what to expect. The costumes are a unique addition, but take the roles of other possible character usage out of the equation. The bad things Traveller's Tales is notorious for still loom darkly over LEGO Gotham.
The story is pretty generic and predictable. It'll work well enough if you're seven, but if you're a grown-up with a guilty pleasure for the LEGO or a DC fixation, you'll be left disappointed - especially if you like the comics.
Local co-op is your friend again, as the drop-in/dropout formula that is a licensed LEGO standard returns. Lack of online multiplayer is disappointing, but probably would have just made more glitches if it existed
A nice retro usage of the original film's scores isn't enough to save this game from the minor to major annoyances that plague the franchise. The voice acting does the job, but robs the game of it's unique charm and way of storytelling.
Overall: 7/10 Good