You can call me…JOKER!
In my mind, the major issue holding the Lego videogame franchise back since its 2005 debut has been the strict guidelines to which the games adhere, since they’re all based on established properties. Mind you, they’re all terrific franchises: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and soon, Lord of the Rings. But one game in the series that bucked that trend was the first Lego Batman. Though the Caped Crusader’s clearly an established property, the story didn’t limit itself to a comic book, cartoon, or movie story arc—and many of us celebrated that fact.
Flash forward four years after the release of the first Lego Batman, and developer Traveller’s Tales has decided to forgo their proven-successful mold once more with Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes. Not only does this entry provide players with an original storyline, but it also marks several significant series firsts. Midlevel checkpoints might be one of the more noticeable changes, as the size and scale of each story level is several times larger than anything else seen to date in the Lego franchise. The game also includes a centralized hub world—in this case, Lego Gotham City—that connects players to many of the major plot points.
But let’s get to the biggest change: talking! For the first time ever, each character in the game actually speaks and doesn’t just mime their intentions or resort to physical humor to get a point across. Now, that’s not to say that the childish Lego slapstick’s been entirely done away with—there’s just a bit less of it. And DC Superheroes’ cast is more or less a Who’s Who of voice actors, with Nolan North, Rob Paulsen, Claudia Black, Tara Strong, Jennifer Hale, and many more—spearheaded by Clancy Brown, who reprises his DC Animated role of Lex Luthor.
But as always, it’s that classic Lego gameplay model of destroying and rebuilding everything in your path—and the kooky plot at the center of it all—that really makes DC Superheroes. And, of course, as our tale unfolds, the Joker’s back up to his old hijinks; he crashes the Gotham “Man of the Year” awards, demanding that he should be the recipient. Bruce Wayne, the actual winner, makes a quick costume change into Batman and proceeds to apprehend his longtime nemesis. But Lex Luthor, also in attendance, decides that working with the Joker to possibly help rig his upcoming presidential run could be just what he needs to change his address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And so, as soon as the Joker lands back in Arkham Asylum, Lex busts him out. A nefarious duo of such epic proportions might be too much for even Batman to handle, so the entire Justice League comes in to lend their support.
More so than any Lego game to date, this one should strike a chord with audiences of all ages. Older Batfans will appreciate several moments that pay homage to Adam West, Michael Keaton, and essentially every actor who’s worn the cape and cowl over the years, while younger players will love being able to break apart and rebuild an entirely interactive Gotham. And with the expanded roster of the Justice League at your command, exploring the same area with different characters can make DC Superheroes seem like a whole new adventure each time—not to mention that you’ll need to switch often if you want to find every secret red or golden block.
The expanded Gotham does provide some navigational problems, though. Although the game includes a map feature—and you can place markers that create a Fable-like trail in the ground comprised of Lego studs—the markers blend too easily into the background and can be confused with those you pick up as currency to unlock characters. And while there’s also a compass in the upper-left corner of your HUD when in the Gotham hub world, it’s difficult to really tell where you want to go, especially when soaring around in the Batwing or taking hairpin turns in the Batmobile—the compass spins around faster than the Flash on a straightaway!
Despite these occasional navigational issues, though, this is still the most complete experience you’re likely to get in a Lego game. Whether it’s taking to the air as Superman, making constructs as the Green Lantern, or just sticking to the main story as the Dark Knight and rocking out in his iconic vehicles, gamers of all ages should be able to appreciate what Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes brings to the table.
SUMMARY: Easily the best Lego game yet, Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes’ expansive world, original story, and bevy of unlockables should please fans of all ages.
- THE GOOD: Massive world, entertaining original story.
- THE BAD: Easy to get lost in Lego Gotham.
- THE UGLY: Aquaman. Aquaman is always the answer to this one.
Lego Batman 2: DC Superheros is available on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, DS, 3DS, and PS Vita. Primary version reviewed was for the Xbox 360.