Dark Knight fever continues to sweep the nation with fans clamoring for the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. While Nolan aims to give movie audiences a twist-filled, gritty plot, a more playful Gotham City exists in a world of bountiful Lego building blocks. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes delivers everything you could expect from a Lego series, now with full voice over, open-world gameplay and enough humorous comic book references to make even the most die-hard Frank Miller fan giddy (raising my hand). The developers at TT Games didn’t stray far from their tried-and-true formula. Underwhelming combat is still laborious for seasoned gamers, but a witty story line mixed with loot hording and loads of puzzles make for another great Dark Knight adventure.
The game starts off by pitting Bruce Wayne against Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor. When the Joker shows up to steal the show, quite literally, an unholy alliance is formed between Gotham City’s famed evildoer and presidential candidate Lex Luthor. Needless to say, when Luthor’s around, resident Metropolis hero and the all-around Man of Steel is not far behind. Between missions around Gotham, Lois Lane will report on the dastardly goings on around town. Her serious take on very humorous news is always a joy. When you’re not listening to Lane’s newscast, you can read the funny news ticker scrolling below, which has even wittier comic book references.
Gameplay is immediately familiar if you’ve ever played any of the Lego titles before. Combat is reduced to one-button melee attacks and very basic combos. Variations on combat come in to play thanks to the plethora of suits available to Batman and the Boy Wonder. The puzzles won’t be too difficult, especially after the first few missions. Most of the time, when a new suit appears, you’ll instantly know what to do with it thanks to the in-game tutorial. Batman’s electricity suit resembles that of Marvel Comics’ Black Bolt. It allows Batman to absorb electricity and redirect it. Other quirky outfits allow Batman to deliver sonic attacks, glide through the air like a bat or turn invisible for added stealth. Robin has similar quirky outfits.
While there is a fun-filled story-based mission in Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, the real gameplay comes through the open-world experience. Between missions, you’ll run around Gotham collecting loot and saving pedestrians caught in the Joker’s nefarious traps. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of running across a bridge, hearing a pedestrian scream help from below and then diving down to rescue them from a Venus Fly trap. You can thank Poison Ivy for that. Several other Batman villains show up throughout the city. They are not part of the core story, but you can fight them in battle. Should you win, it’s almost impossible not to, you will be able to purchase them for use later as a playable character. Then you can cause villainy chaos at your leisure. There are also puzzles found throughout missions, which are specific to each Gotham villain. These can be revisited once you unlock the character.
Superman shows up later in the story to turn the Dynamic Duo into the Three Stooges for a lot of subtext-driven banter. Superman is almost completely oblivious to how much Batman hates the Man of Steel’s glorified hero lifestyle. Robin on the other hand is a Superman fanboy, which constantly irritates Batman. The writers did a superb job of capturing the persnickety side of the Dark Knight.
Although Superman adds a lot of humor to the adventure, he also robs some of the enjoyment. As you know, Superman is pretty much invincible and all-powerful. Besides a few kryptonite traps, playing with him during certain scenes almost feels like you’re playing in god mode. Lex and the Joker would hit me with missiles and I’d just dust off my suit and continue flying, business as usual.
Gameplay is local cooperative so you can call on your pal for help or if you want to play with a less-than moronic AI character. Your AI teammates always tend to fall to their death and block passageways. I couldn’t help but blast Batman with Superman’s heat vision because the Caped Crusader kept getting in his way.
Overall, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is an excellent adventure. You can easily get over 20 hours of gameplay by just exploring Gotham City and unlocking all the characters. It’s worth it just to see all of the characters use their special abilities. As the first fully voiced Lego game, Batman 2 definitely delivered a witty story along with pitch-perfect character voicing. Now if only the developers could do something to improve on the lackluster combat system, I’d be in heaven.