Na na na na naaaah BATMAAAAAN!
Yes indeed, the caped crusader continues his year of media dominance, this time in video game form. Unlike the brooding menace, pathos and generally tortured soul Batman from the movie ‘The Dark Knight’, this version of the masked vigilante has more in common with the camp humor of the 1960’s tv show, which actually is not a bad thing.
Of course the main thing about this game is that Batty and Co have been ‘Legofied’ following on from such other pop culture franchises like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’. So, does this game suck like nipples on the Batsuit? Or is cleaning up Gotham more fun than Michelle Pfeiffer in her Catwoman garb?
Lego Batman follows the same tried and trusted conventions of the previous Lego titles, namely a universe of recognizable characters, vehicles and locations, all Lego’d up and just waiting for you to capture, drive or smash and rebuild while trying to save Gotham from the plans of the nefarious Joker.
The game consists of three chapters, each chapter containing 5 hero and 5 villain missions. The basic objectives are simple, either stop the crimes and drag the villains off to Arkham Asylum (Hero) or go on a spree of cartoony lawlessness while avoiding capture (Villain). Each mission also has the standard side quests that have become regulars in the Lego games – Locate the red brick to unlock bonus powers, find the mini-kit parts to build trophies for your cave / hideout and unlock as many bonus characters as possible.
As you progress through each level, you will of course be collecting the blue, gold and silver Lego studs that are used as currency in- game. These studs can be found dotted in plain sight, and more can be revealed by simply going nuts and smashing up the scenery! This of course is part of the fun of the Lego titles, as going bananas in a level and seeing what can be destroyed is always a very satisfying experience.
I mentioned the wide array of characters earlier, and there are lots of them! Apart from the well known characters like Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Joker, Penguin, Riddler etc, the game also includes some of the less mainstream characters like Clayface, MothMan, The Man Bat and NightWing. Each has their own unique abilities that you will need to progress through the game, for example Joker has a hand buzzer that kick starts electric powered devices, while Poison Ivy can release pheromones that coerce gullible men into doing her bidding such as opening doors, activating switches etc.
Now while the game is a lot of fun, especially for those new to the Lego series, if you have played the previous three titles you may feel a large dose of déjà-vu. The game mechanics are the same as the previous titles, and the game engine still has the same flaws as the first three games (stupid AI, really bad camera positioning at times). Also, the game has no online co-op play, which is pretty unacceptable in this day and age you can still play co-op from one box, which is fun. While these issues do not spoil the game totally, they can lead to some very annoying moments.
When all is said and done, this is perhaps the first really great Batman game to his the consoles since…. well forever really, and while that is not saying much given the lack of serious competition (at least till Arkham Asylum and DC Universe Online come out next year) this is a fun game that will keep fans of the Bat happy for a fair while. The other great thing is that with co-op mode, this is a game that grown-ups can play with the kids and have a blast.
Verdict: Annoyingly fun, but sometimes just annoying.
The versions reviewed were for the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS. The game is also out on the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, PC and PSP.
Lego Batman is out now, rated ‘E 10 for Everyone’