Historically, I’ve always found the LEGO games to be enjoyable, if shallow experiences. They weren’t exactly the most deep titles, but ultimately they got the job done, and were a blast to play with kids — beyond that, there’s not much more you can really expect out of them.
The newest LEGO iteration seeks to branch out and expand it’s scale, not only bringing back Batman and Robin, but introducing a heap of DC characters as well. LEGO Batman 2 keeps some franchise issues, but ultimately, it’s one of Traveller’s Tales’ best games yet.
LEGO Batman 2 starts out innocently enough: The Joker gets into some trouble, and it’s up to Batman and Robin to save the city of Gotham — pretty standard stuff. But one of the first things you’ll immediately notice is the full use of voice talents, with notable actors this time around.
In case you haven’t noticed, LEGO games traditionally do not have voices, and instead opt to utilize grunts, groans, and miming to get their point across. It was charming for quite a while, but not everyone enjoys that sort of thing, and it’s not like it’s impossible to do voices right.
Thankfully, LEGO Batman 2 doesn’t go in half assed, and brings some fairly top shelf talent in to do the job, like Clancy Brown, Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Steve Blum, Cam Clarke, Nolan North, and a whole lot more. Simply put, it’s probably one of the biggest conglomerations of character actors known to man, so you won’t mourn the loss of the signature miming that much.
After the initial tussle with Joker, the story opens up from there, but since it is a younger oriented game in the end, it really only moves from caper to caper (and franchise to franchise for that matter), leaving out some of the heavy hitting storylines people are used to with DC.
Still, it’s not like there’s a cross-over video game with Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman every week, so you’re bound to find your personal favorite DC character somewhere in the mix.
Speaking of the larger cast, the LEGO games have usually been presented in such a small scale, so I’m glad to see them branching out with more franchises (essentially most of DC’s major characters).
In addition to the increased character count, there’s also a larger scale in terms of sheer gameplay, as there’s more of a living, breathing open world this time around, which severely increases the enjoyment of the game.
No matter how large the cast however, you’re going to either be playing solo, or with one other player; that’s about it as far as your multiplayer options go. After you beat each level you’re free to play it in Free Play mode with one of the game’s many (over 50) characters, which allows you to go back and find secret LEGO symbols and pieces you may have missed before.
Completionists will absolutely love all of the hidden objects the game contains, but most people will just breeze through and not really care about getting different colored LEGO pieces.
Like some other LEGO games, I did encounter a number of glitches that halted my progress. Whether it was getting stuck in a wall, or unable to trigger a certain required switch, I had to restart my game a few times to retry from the latest checkpoint.
Thankfully the game auto-saves a decent amount, but you’re bound to encounter some questionable deaths and bugs along the way, which you think would be ironed out after so many LEGO titles.
Gameplay is pretty much the same as the previous title, with Batman, Robin, and whoever else joins the fray exploring the countryside, solving puzzles, and fighting grunts and bosses.
If you can imagine a very basic 3D beat ‘em up with platforming elements, that’s LEGO Batman 2 in a nutshell. Thankfully, it’s all very well done, gameplay is smooth, and there aren’t too many complicated button combinations to worry about.
Online support is always a mixed bag with the LEGO games, as some of them support it eventually through a patch, and most of them don’t support it at all. Sadly, LEGO Batman 2 is one of the ones that leaves it out entirely.
LEGO Batman 2, simply put, is best played with two players. It makes the game that much more enjoyable to play in tandem, working together with someone, so the lack of online play at this stage in the game is incredibly disappointing.
While it may be a step up for the franchise, it doesn’t do anything radical that will sway non-fans. LEGO Batman 2 may encourage more exploration, but thematically, and gameplay wise, it’s still relatively simplistic.
This review was based on a retail copy of LEGO Batman 2 for the Xbox 360.