Tt Games and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment are at it again in the LEGO universe with their latest creation LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. This time, though, they take presentation to an entirely new level.
The adventure begins with a 'Man of the Year' award ceremony where Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor are up for the honor. Wayne wins the honor, Luthor is non too thrilled and then Joker comes in and spoils the ceremony. Batman and Robin team up to put Joker, Harley Quinn, Two-Face and the Riddler away in the first part of the game. Of course, that is just the appetizer. From there, Luthor gets his revenge on Wayne, and the world, by freeing the Joker from his confines (after Batman and Robin put him away) and every other well-known villain in the DC universe. It's a very plausible premise for a comic book, and one that is more lighthearted than this reviewer can describe.
Shifting gears a bit, the presentation of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is probably the best in the LEGO series. I thought Pirates of the Caribbean set new standards, but this just blew that away. A new element, and introduction to the LEGO series, is the existence of voice actors. That's right, you read it correctly. Tt Games finally added some voice acting that is more than just grunting and sounds from its characters. With voice acting coming from the likes of Clancy Brown (Highlander, , Shawshank Redemption, Spongebob) as Lex Luthor, Tara Brown as Harley Quinn, and more familiar folks, Tt Games really wanted to make this first voice acting experience in the series more than just a fleeting portion of the game. Mission accomplished, as most of the cast had been involved with an animated DC film in some way.
As for visuals, the textures, environments and sheer depth of the modeling has improved. For example, early on in the game, you'll find yourself on top of Gotham's theater building and it will feel like you're up high. It's a bit more visually appealing than any previous LEGO game. Heck, when you see the Bat Cave for the first time you're probably going to pee a little. It's incredibly detailed, it seems like a well thought out and built design that Tt Games actually gave a damn about. They could have easily thrown in the towel for this one and just spit out another LEGO game, but they didn't. They've been improving immensely on this series and seeing this game in action proves it.
One thing that I think people are overshadowing when talking about this title is the soundtrack. You are treated to music from Danny Elfman and John Williams. How much better could that get? Sure it's a bit repetitive in some areas, but it's solid as a rock when it comes to the actual soundtrack from the DC live action films. When you start the game you'll hear Danny Elfman's contribution to the DC universe immediately, and you'll be in the mood to be Batman.
As for gameplay, the basic premise behind the LEGO games is that you go through an adventure, then you go back and build a collection of items/characters. It's been that way for a while and it's formula that certainly extends the shelf life of the product. Batman 2: DC Super Heroes isn't any different. You go through a goofy adventure with Batman (and friends), meet DC super heroes and villains and complete an innocent game that kids can actually enjoy and play. Along the way you're going to run into a series of different puzzles to solve, different situations to get out of and just a fun time geared towards a young audience.
In other words, if you have played the LEGO series before then you know what to expect from the game.
The controls are pretty basic, as you do you jumping, punching, kicking and special moves to work your way through the game. You do get an improvement with combos that feel comic-booky (not a word). You'll also run into a bevy of items and costumes that allow for you to perform special moves and tasks to get you through the adventure. For example, early in the game you'll find an acrobatic suit for Robin, that allows for our favorite guy to sport a stick. It not only gives you go Kilik (Soul Calibur) on people, but it helps Robin get through a certain part of the stage. You'll find plenty of items and costumes that will make the game just a bit deeper.
On top of this, you'll also run into moments where you get to control vehicles. For example, very early on in the game, when you're fighting the Joker, you'll get a chance to ride in the Batwing and the Batmobile. The Batwing is a bit more restrictive, as the controls are set on auto-pilot and the user is merely asked to control the weapons. The Batmobile is a bit more interesting, as you get to briefly take that thing on a joy ride before getting to your next adventure. My son absolutely loved the Bat mobile.
So, is this game any fun at the end of the day? This game is a blast. You'll get through the main adventure in about 10-11 hours (I tend to play slower than others, so take that into account), but you'll want to go back through it to pick up new characters, bricks and everything you can. You'll want to earn all the trophies and you'll want to complete this game fully. The replay value is better than most LEGO games because the story and gameplay are far more appealing than previous LEGO adventures. Not to say that the other adventures are bad, it's just that this one is particularly very good, and it's more encouraging to complete the entire game than in previous LEGO adventures.
Aside from the value and depth, the most important element in this game is that it's just plain fun. It still has funny quirky moments of humor mixed in with DC comic drama. It's cute, it's fast-paced and it just wants to keep you happy. I have two younger kids (3 and 5) and they just can't get enough of the game. It took me a few extra days to wrangle the controller away from them while I tried to review it in the evening hours. Besides telling you that I need to spend more time with my kids, this should also tell you that my kids are enjoying it at a very young age, which means it's appropriate for the young folks in your household.