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E3 08: Hands-on Lego Batman

Posted by Luke Brown On July - 17 - 2008

Investigative reporter, Veggie Jackson, was able to play the newest installment of Traveler’s Tales Lego series, Lego Batman, at E3 this week. Hit the jump for his thoughts on the progress of the world’s tiniest caped crusader.

British developer Traveller’s Tales has found a goldmine in the Lego franchise.  Their renditions of the two Star Wars trilogies and Indiana Jones have been met with not only commercial success, but critical acclaim as well.  Warner Bros. Interactive is hoping that the Lego formula will work just as well with one of the most iconic and beloved characters in all of pop culture, Batman.  We got a chance to not only sit in with one of the games’ developers, but also to play through part of one of the game’s early levels.

The game is clearly focused on Batman, but I got to play on the other side of the law, using two of the Dark Knight’s more recognizable villains.  In addition to the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin, there are several playable villain combos, including the Joker and Harley Quinn, and Riddler and Mr. Freeze.  There will be other villains available, such as Catwoman, Poison Ivy, the Penguin and Killer Croc, but the combinations thereof haven’t been announced.  I got to play as Riddler and Mr. Freeze; perhaps not the most high-profile of villains, but a potent combo nonetheless.

The game’s basic mechanics aren’t terribly different from previous Lego games, but the character’s special abilities have been changed significantly.  Where in Lego Star Wars you had several classes like Jedi, bounty hunter and blaster, each villain in Lego Batman can perform unique tasks that are essential to completing their specific missions.  For example, Riddler can mind control others to do his bidding and Mr. Freeze can encase enemies in a block of ice and use super strength.  On the heroic side, since only Batman and Robin are playable (at the time of this writing, anyway), different abilities are available with different costumes, which become available at specified times during the story mode.  Riddler and Freeze’s first mission started me off in front of a dilapidated building.  After completing a simple jumping puzzle and driving over a bunch of pesky Gotham Police officers, the villains were off to the sewers.  There, Mr. Freeze’s cold gun was needed to create frozen blocks in a contaminated body of water in order to get to the other side.  After that, I found myself stuck behind a wall that was far too high up to be jumped on.  Since there was clearly a switch up there that needed to be hit, I used Riddler to mind control a simpleton of a cop to perform the task for me.  Once he did that, a slew of Gotham’s finest attacked him, and I was forced to make this innocent policeman a certified cop-killer many times over.  With the switch turned on, we went up the new staircase up to the cop’s level, killed him, and moved on.

Sadly, my demo ended there, but we got a lot of info from the Traveller’s Tales rep who walked me through the level.He discussed the aforementioned villain team-ups and hero costumes, as well as the game’s other mode, Free Play.  Just like in the Star Wars games, once you complete a level, you’ll be able to play through it again using any of the game’s characters, or any combination of character parts.  Character customization returns, this time using the Batcave as the heroic hub, and Arkham Asylum as the villains’.

Lego Batman represents a huge step forward in graphics for the franchise.  The characters are still blocky little Lego men, just as they should be, but the environments they inhabit are gorgeous, with real-time lighting effects, reflective surfaces and lush textures that immerse you in the grimy, seedy world of Gotham City.  A welcome surprise for the game is the musical score, which features tracks from Danny Elfman’s soundtrack to the 1989 Batman movie.  Despite the game not adhering to any one Batman continuity (comics, movies, TV), the film music fits the game perfectly.

As much as I loved the Lego Star Wars series, Lego Batman is shaping up to be the best Lego game by far.  E3 has been chock full of impressive games, and this one is right near the top of the list.  Between the game’s obvious level of polish and the general buzz surrounding the new Dark Knight movie, Lego Batman is sure to be yet another massive hit for Travelers Tales and Warner Bros.

You can find even more E3 coverage from Gamervision by hitting the banner below.

1 Response so far
  1. the riddler Said,

    [...] E3 08: Hands-on Lego BatmanIn addition to the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin, there are several playable villain combos, including the Joker and Harley Quinn, and Riddler and Mr. Freeze. There will be other villains available, such as Catwoman, Poison Ivy, … [...]

    Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 4:03 AM

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