Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
- Street Date:
- November 11th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Levi van Tine
- Review Date:1
- November 19th, 2014
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox One
- Warner Brothers
- Traveller's Tales
Disc copy of the Xbox One version reviewed.
Traveler’s Tales is a British studio that created its first Lego-branded game in 2005, 'Lego Star Wars: The Video Game'. Their first Batman title was in 2008, and they have not created anything without "Lego" in the title since 2009. Now owned by Time Warner, they will Lego-fy just about any big franchise they can get their hands on, from 'Pirates of the Caribbean' to 'Indiana Jones' to 'Lord of the Rings'. The second 'Lego Batman' invited in the Justice League, but now, with 'Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham,' DC Universe characters are pouring out of the woodwork to join the Batman minifig.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
'Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham' closely follows the formula established in Traveler’s Tales’ previous games. Almost everything in the game, except for some environmental surfaces, is made of Lego bricks and studs. This includes characters, vehicles, and buildings. And just like the real life toys, all of the Lego pieces can be pulled apart, discombobulated, and destroyed. The player frequently has to build structures and tools out of piles of Lego bricks, although this is a scripted construction and not freeform. Each character has special abilities that are used to solve puzzles, find collectibles, and fight. In a game like 'Lego Batman', many of the characters have superpowers, like flight, laser vision, super speed, and more. Batman can use a variety of specialized suits to turn invisible, explode things, use a freeze ray, etc. Robin can walk up magnetized walls, illuminate dark corridors, and safely navigate through toxic waste.
Although it is called 'Lego Batman', this game would more accurately be titled as 'Lego DC' because it has dozens of playable heroes and villains from the comic company’s nearly 80-year history. It is to DC what last year’s 'Lego Marvel Super Heroes' was for Marvel. There are the obvious choices of Batman and Robin, but also Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and the rest of the Justice League. There’s Green Lantern and the rest of the Lantern Corps. Many famous supervillains are also available, many from Batman’s huge rogues gallery but also from other DC lines. This includes the Joker, Killer Croc, Solomon Grundy, Cheetah, and Lex Luthor. All told there are over 150 separate characters, although some of these are simple reskins without notable powers. Even some celebrities like Conan O’Brien and Kevin Smith are represented.
'Lego Batman 3' has 15 levels in story mode, and approximately halfway through the campaign, I had access to most of them on an overmap. There are several hubs in between levels, such as the Batcave and the Justice League’s Watchtower. During each level, I had access to a steadily increasing number of characters and abilities. Some of the characters can swap suits and employ a large amount of powers, making them very useful. Others are kind of a one-trick pony, like Cheetah, who can dig up piles of junk and that’s about it. There are puzzles in each level that range from simple to mildly difficult to solve, although the game has several methods of showing the player how to proceed. While the combination of Legos and comic books absolutely make this a game that can be played by children, it would be a shame to label it as a "kids’ game". The gameplay, while very familiar to anyone who has played any Lego game, is not yet stale. The puzzles and environmental platforming are fun, as is the casual destruction of thousands of blocks of Legos. I often found myself completely ignoring objectives and enemies so that I could wantonly explode Legos and collect studs.
The story is typical Lego and that is a good thing. It’s cheesy and full of slapstick humor, with all of the characters being caricatures of their comic counterparts. Wonder Woman has serious anger management issues, the Flash is a kleptomaniac, Batman is brooding and glum, and Superman is as cheerful and boring as ever. The scheming android Brainiac serves as the chief antagonist, although many other villains are encountered along the way, some even recruited in the fight against Brainiac.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Lego is a plastic, brightly colored toy world above all else, and the game portrays that aesthetic accurately. The visuals are decent, with few problems, although there is nothing particularly advanced here. Lighting and other effects are simple. Lego faces change in only rudimentary ways, and textures and fabrics are basic. The design of the alien worlds later in the story is quite good.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The voice acting is hammy and overstated, which adds to the camp effect and makes for a more funny game. The Joker and Solomon Grundy are great examples of this, with the former sounding like a less evil version of Mark Hamill and the latter being portrayed as a lovable, dimwitted ape. Music and sound effects are well done and occasionally lifted straight out of other DC properties. Whenever Superman takes to the air, the theme of the Christopher Reeves film franchise can be heard, and the same for Wonder Woman and the 70s TV show.
The free play mode in 'Lego Batman 3' is the real reason to play this game and much better than the story. In free play, any collected character can be swapped at any time by the player. With all of these abilities at my disposal, I was able to conduct the serious business of collecting even more Lego characters, as well as minikits and other collectibles. Each level also gives an opportunity to save a man in peril - Adam West, who portrayed the Batman in the 1960s TV show. Speaking of West, the octogenarian voices himself and the Bat in an amazing bonus level spoofing the TV show, which itself spoofed the comics. The bonus level and many other great Easter eggs can be found in the Batcave and other places during free play.
The game has a two-player, split-screen, drop-in co-op mode. I call it co-op, but there’s no friendly fire so the players are free to destroy one another if they so desire. The split screen is a bit odd and a comic-like divider tends to rotate the screen around as the characters move, so sometimes player one will be on the left, and other times on the top or bottom. The divider disappears when both players are in the same vicinity. Co-op is a blast and I used it as an opportunity to harass friends who were gracious enough to help me test it. I never let a good deed go unpunished.
'Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham' is a good Lego experience, but it adds to the franchise only incrementally. The series has been around for nearly a decade and has made great improvements since it began, but needs more innovation to avoid going down the path of burnt-out IPs. Besides the new characters, there is little difference between this game and last year’s 'Lego Marvel.' The storyline is also rather short, and can be finished in six or seven hours. Despite that, it is a good time for kids of all ages with co-op and free play continuing as a base for the series' signature charm.
- 7.1 LPCM
- Offline Co-op
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