For all those younger gamers out there, making references to “POW” and “ZOWEE” flashes when Batman hits an enemy will elicit nothing more than confused blinking. For more mature gamers, the comments will inspire nods of understanding and some context as to how long I’ve been a Batman fan. I’ve known about Batman since before Heath Ledger spoke his first word, so a game like LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes doesn’t enter my console lightly. Yes, it’s another LEGO game, and yes, even within the LEGO Batman franchise it’s a sequel. But, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes shows how the series is evolving, and the introduction of new characters is ironically just what we all needed this summer.
If The Avengers taught us anything, it’s that multiple superheroes working together is a good thing. Such is the case with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Not only are Batman and Robin in tow this time around, but so is Superman — for better or for worse, if Batman’s mannerisms are to be believed. Naturally, both franchises’ antiheroes are also in play, with The Joker and Lex Luthor both trying to take down the civilized world as we know it. Fortunately, you can play solo or via drop-in/drop-out co-op, which is a great feature and works fantastically well here, making it both easier and more enjoyable to fight through wave after wave of enemies on your way to defeating the heroes’ archenemies.
The game world in LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is surprisingly large, even by LEGO-game standards, which makes me think it’s almost a “proving grounds” of sorts for the Wii U game Warner Bros. is cooking up. I was at the Nintendo E3 press conference this year when they announced LEGO City: Undercover, and it quickly became one of the Wii U games I’m most excited to play. Imagine by pleasant surprise, then, when LEGO Batman 2 exhibited some of the open-world characteristics that will undoubtedly fill my Wii U later this year: the hub world now being a full-on city rather than a menu, and players having the ability to hop into vehicles and drive around to various areas of the city. If this is what we can expect from Telltale’s LEGO games now, I’m stoked just for LEGO: Lord of the Rings. If Telltale can make Gotham City seem so large, imagine what they’ll pull off with all of Middle-earth.
One element of this new larger game world does need finessing, though: mid-mission save points. In theory they work fine, because they don’t force you to completely start a mission over, but using them properly is a bit awkward. Once you return to the game to finish the mission, you’ll find yourself driving back to the level from the Batcave. Once you arrive, the mission starts where you left off, but only if you’ve literally driven right to the level without any distractions. If you’ve been diverted for any reason, even just to grab some bricks, you’ll have to start the mission over rather than at the save point. Telltale gets a bit of a free pass here, since they haven’t done much with open-world titles, but now that they’ve got one under their belt, I’d expect a more-refined save mechanic for LEGO: LOTR and LEGO City: Undercover.
Telltale’s original story with LEGO Batman 2, presented over the course of about 10 hours, is pretty intriguing, and seeing how the personality conflicts play out between Batman and Superman is an absolute riot. Telltale has always done a good job with body language, mostly because the LEGO characters haven’t had voices. In LEGO Batman 2, though, the characters do speak, which adds to the smart-aleck palette with which Telltale could paint. It’s a job well done, to be sure.
You’ll notice that I haven’t talked much about any Superheroes outside of Superman and the Dynamic Duo. The other members of the Justice League do come into play, but you don’t encounter them until the game’s later chapters, so there’s not all that much to talk about. Limiting the character count for most of the game did allow more fleshing-out of character dynamics, but it was disappointing to not see more of those DC Super Heroes mentioned in the title until so late in the game.
Still, even with its virtual omission of anyone not with “man” at the end of their name doesn’t keep LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes from being fun. Watching a beloved hero like Batman fight baddies and his own issues with Superman is a great combination, and it’s all presented in the family-friendly LEGO wrapper we’ve come to expect from Telltale. If you or anyone in your house is a fan of the caped crusader — even the newest iteration — you can rest assured that LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes will be a hit.
Buy LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes from Amazon.com.
Platform reviewed: PlayStation 3
– Jonas Allen