Lex Luthor and the Joker have teamed up to terrorize Gotham City with a new Kryptonite-powered super weapon! Batman and Robin are going to need all the help they can get! Lucky for them, Superman and other members of the Justice League will lend a hand in this LEGO sequel available for all the major current game consoles (360 version reviewed here).
At heart, LEGO Batman 2 is like any other in the block building series. Sock enemies, bash blocks and build new LEGO structures, drive vehicles, use teamwork, and solve puzzles. Collect LEGO studs to buy new characters and vehicles to use in Free Play, and find hidden red and gold LEGO bricks to unlock cheats and other goodies. Just like the others, a second player can join in and hop out at any time for some co-op fun.
Similar to the first game, Batman and Robin can don special suits at specific spots in the game that give them specific powers and abilities. Batman can glide and break glass with sound while wearing the Bat-Suit, harness electricity with the Electrical Suit, and fire bombs with the Power Suit. Robin has his own set of suits that include an Acrobat suit for extra agility, jumping, and climbing, as well as an ice suit for freezing water.
LEGO Batman 2 incorporates some new firsts for the LEGO series of games. Most noticeable is that all the characters are fully voiced now. In the past, LEGO characters just made grunts and pantomime gestures to communicate, and that was part of the humor. While it is a little weird at first to hear them talk now, with the more complicated super hero plot in the story, it was needed. Plus there is still plenty of rollicking humor in the game, and many of the characters are voiced by the same actors from the cartoon shows!
The other big change is the hub world. Most LEGO games have a small hub area where you can choose levels, buy new characters, and create your own. But in LEGO Batman 2, you have to explore the entire Gotham City to do all that! It is fun to explore Gotham City where you can find hidden bricks, save people, and battle (and buy) popular villains. And the city is HUGE, easily dwarfing the Hogwarts hub world from LEGO Harry Potter. Exploring the city kind of reminds me of the City Trial mode from Kirby’s Air Ride. There are all sorts of fun things to find, too. Like in the Joker’s amusement park area, you can ride rides and even play carnival games!
But Gotham City is both a blessing and a curse. You’ll have to do a lot of aimless walking around to find all the hidden secrets, characters, and vehicles, which were much easier to get in smaller hub worlds. The map and radar also make it confusing to find things. It’s also unclear how to use unlocked characters and create your own, thanks to a poorly written instruction booklet and in-game text. Luckily, they DO make it easy to find the next level to advance the story, thanks to the big bat signal and LEGO stud trail. Plus, once you FINALLY unlock Superman, flying around Gotham City makes finding things SO MUCH EASIER! And fun, too. It’s a wonder why they didn’t just make this be a LEGO Superman game!
The visuals and audio are also greatly improved in this sequel, and the developers even used the popular Danny Elfman Batman theme from the movies. People who remember the Superman flicks from the 70’s and 80’s will also recognize the familiar John Williams “DAAAA, DA-DA-DA-DAAA, DAAA, DAAA, DAAAAAAHHHH,” when you start flying around as Superman. Speaking of which, that leads us to another one of the game’s problems. They tease that you’ll be able to play as all these great DC super heroes, but you have to wait until more than halfway through the game to play as Superman, and even longer for the others. You’ll still mostly play as regular ol’ Batman and Robin, but I guess that makes sense considering they are the title characters.
Really the only other problem with this game is that saving your progress is a little confusing sometimes. The game claims that you can save your progress at halfway points in the levels. But when I tried that and re-started, I had to play the whole level again. A better written instruction manual probably would’ve solved this misunderstanding, but the game will automatically save every time you collect a major item like bricks or a new character. But despite the problems, LEGO Batman 2 is still a must-buy for DC superhero buffs and fans of the LEGO games.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Cartoon Violence. Even though you punch and kick enemies, they’re just made of blocks and break apart when defeated. Honestly, I’d let any kid play any of the LEGO game series. Reading skill is helpful, but not required as most things are easy to figure out. And even if a younger player does need assistance, jumping in as player two to help is loads of fun. I could see kids enjoying exploring Gotham City and even making up their own hide and seek games. Plus, kids love super heroes, but some of the newer Batman movies, comics, and games are not geared towards younger fans. So LEGO Batman 2 is perfect for them.