Versions Available: PS3, PC, 360, 3DS, Vita, Wii Version Tested: PS3
There’s a special moment in Traveller’s Tales’ latest Lego game which arrives a few missions in to the campaign. The dark brooding tones of Danny Elfman’s Batman score give way to the bright brassy John Williams Superman theme and the big blue boy scout appears from the sky. From this moment on, Lego Batman 2 becomes a real joy to play, but the truth is that this game is special right from the moment you press play.
The first big surprise is the voice acting. Gone are the days when all Lego characters could do was mime out their emotions and in comes some of the best voice talent this side of the Batman Arkham games. It may not have Mark Hamill, but every one of the voices is spot on, especially Adam Baldwin as Superman.
There are killer scenes throughout the game that just couldn’t have been done without the voices, especially Batman’s rocky relationship with Superman and Robin’s glee at working alongside a ‘real’ superhero. They elevate the game to something more than just another smash and collect challenge. It’s Superman, though, who steals the show, from that first appearance to the point in the game where you actually get to control the Man of Steel and fly around the city to that glorious theme tune.
The gameplay itself has evolved, too. While the basic build, collect and work to the next checkpoint element is still there, the different suits really come in to their own during puzzles and work alongside the characters’ own strengths in solving levels that now feel far more logical and consistent. Robin’s chemical cleanup suit gets a good airing, as does Batman’s electricity suit. Superman, being the guy he is, doesn’t need a suit but Traveller’s Tales (now going under the moniker of TT Games) have still created a balanced character who can use strength, laser beams and freezing breath but who doesn’t have a projectile weapon and can’t latch on to hooks.
The other heroes; Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg and Wonder Woman, don’t appear until right near the end of the story mode, but then Lego games have never been just about the story, despite this one being so exciting. In fact, there are plenty of other heroes and villains to collect long after the story has been completed, including fan favourite Nightwing. Villains are collected by completing mini-stories that centre around their own special powers; Poison Ivy takes over the Botanical Gardens while The Penguin hides out in the Zoo (which features a hilarious animal riding mini-game).
The game’s hub has been stretched from a single location to the whole of Gotham City, effectively creating an open-world Lego game for the first time on consoles. Driving around the city streets in the Batmobile or any one of the number of vehicles you can unlock is exhilarating stuff. My favourite has to be Brainiac’s spaceship which gives you checkpoint based missions to complete, buzzing around the skies high above the city.
Those who favour completing a game 100% will have to encounter everything from fairground rides to finding all the vehicles and hero specific goals in order to hunt down the elusive Gold Bricks. But it never feels like a slog or a chore and there’ always something cool just around the corner to spur you on, a new character or find that brightens your day.
Lego Batman 2 is not just the best Lego game to date, but I’d go as far as saying that it’s on a par with the Batman Arkham games as the best superhero game as well.