The name itself is somewhat deceptive. LEGO Batman combined with the DC Super Heroes. Is it another entrant into the LEGO Batman franchise or the start of a new series focusing on more of the greater DC universe? And with trailers featuring members of the Justice League, why didn’t they go with LEGO Justice League or at least LEGO Batman 2: Justice League? LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes gives a lot of what is expected as well as some interesting gameplay and story design choices as well.
At its core, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a puzzle solving game with light combat elements. Players must figure out how to traverse from point A to point B in a room using the special techniques and powers of the game’s heroes. Both Batman and Robin have multiple suits, each with different power sets, to aid in this and are aided by Superman’s unique abilities later on. Superman can’t walk through electric fields, but Batman has a suit that can. Robin can’t melt gold beams but Superman can shoot his heat vision to accomplish the task. And for some reason, Robin has both a hazard suit to clean up toxic waste and a snow suit which lets him freeze stuff.
Interspersed between puzzles is light combat. Enemies can often be taken out in a single hit and multiple targets can go down quickly with a quick shot from the batarang. Combat is also one of the fundamentals that hurts the gameplay. During the levels where players can be both Superman and Batman or in a later level where players can be Wonder Woman, both characters are essentially invincible. There is no threat as they have steel health hearts and cannot take damage. And because both can fly as well, there is no fear of them falling during platforming sections. The second players realize this, the excitement of the combat sections is lost.
The game also has various vehicular turret combat sections which bring a nice dose of excitement to some of the more tedious puzzle sections. Though again there isn’t much of a threat, the areas are fun and have tons of bricks exploding from all corners, making the game feel like much more is going on at the time.
Surprisingly for a LEGO game, one of the things you do the least of is build. While all of the LEGO objects in the world are destructible, players don’t actually build that many items. The most construction comes from building the costume platforms that Batman or Robin must stand on to switch to their various power suits or the occasional grappling hook location or level. Rebuilding sections of levels like one would be able to in LEGO Star Wars seems less and less prevalent in LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.
Story and Presentation:
For the most part (without going into spoiler territory), LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a Batman and Superman team up story. While the members of the Justice League make their way into the game, it is only during the final two of LEGO Batman 2’s fifteen chapters. Up until that point, the game takes place in Gotham City (probably why they stuck with the LEGO Batman franchise branding) as Lex Luthor and the Joker pair up to help Lex win his bid for presidency by creating a giant robot that will spray the voting public with some strange gas that will cause them to vote for Luthor. In an effort to stop the evil pair, Batman reluctantly asks for Superman’s help and eventually that of the rest of the Justice League. The pacing of the story is an interesting choice as all of the events take place over only two days and a hefty portion of the game revolves around the gigantic Joker robot being piloted by Lex and the Joker. Eventually, it’s hard not to wish it would finally just fall apart so the story could move on.
The character portrayals are interesting choices in LEGO Batman 2 as both of the two main characters have somewhat unlikeable aspects to them. Batman comes across as a little bit of a jerk, either too embarrassed or conceited to admit when he needs help. Superman on the other hand comes across as a fairly oblivious buffoon who is only really any use because of his powers. The only really likeable character of the main three is Robin who continues to act star struck every time he and Batman encounter Superman.
The “open world” format is an interesting choice for a LEGO game. Unlike a game like Skyrim or GTA where there is an open persistent world happening that is affected by the actions taken by players, LEGO Batman 2’s open world is the same throughout. From start to finish and even after the story is completed, there is a constant riot of villainous themed thugs around the city and screaming citizens. While the open world gives some exploratory elements such as searching for minifigures to unlock for Free Play mode and has various puzzles to unlock golden bricks, it doesn’t do anything to help aid the story.
Graphics and Sound:
Visually, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes resembles a lot of what we have seen in previous titles. The levels are larger but the same basic art design stays consistent through the series. The open world did have some interesting loading issues though on PS3 where the bat-computer terminals would take a little bit of time to load in to the game world even though the beacon was indicating where the player should be well in advance of their arrival.
The most notable part of LEGO Batman 2’s sound design is the addition of voice actors. This is the first time any LEGO character has been voiced. Maybe because of the tone of the game being more kid friendly and then comparing it to the awesome voice acting done recently in Batman: Arkham City, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes feels more like a Saturday morning cartoon than a super hero game. The characters sometimes are extremely over exaggerated in their delivery which counters some of the amazing delivery from the pantomime in previous LEGO titles.
By no means is LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes a bad game. If anything, it is a good one because it is more of the same things that most people enjoyed from previous LEGO games. But it doesn’t go out of its way to successfully do anything new. While the voice acting allows for more detailed storytelling, some of the charm is lost when these always silent minifigures now break the trend and begin to speak. But if you have been a fan of the series in the past, it makes sense to give LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes a go since it does bring back much of what made the game such a success in the past. And with the way the game ends, Travelers Tales and WB Interactive will be bringing another chapter to the series in the future as well.
PlayStation 3 (also available on XBox 360, Playstation Vita, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS and PC)
Developer: Travelers Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment