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Review: Lego Batman – Xbox 360

Posted by Sarah LeBoeuf On October - 1 - 2008

When Lego Star Wars was first released in 2005, many people didn’t quite know what to make of it. Sure, the characters and storyline were familiar to any Star Wars junkie, but seeing them in animated Lego form was a completely foreign idea. By the time Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy came out the following year, though, gamers of all ages had discovered just how much fun it was to play through well-known plotlines with a Lego twist. Lego Indiana Jones, released earlier this year, didn’t change up anything other than the franchise it was based upon, and even with its flaws, it was still a highly enjoyable game that had many fans looking forward to the release of Lego Batman. Now that the latest game in the Lego franchise is here, how does it stack up? Hit the jump to find out.

Like Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones before it, the heart of Lego Batman is making your way through destructible, Lego-ized environments while taking the roles of characters you’ve likely known for most of your life. What makes this game a little different, though, is that it doesn’t follow a pre-established storyline; instead, Lego Batman contains an original plot following a mass breakout from Arkham Asylum. During the story mode, the characters of Batman and Robin are available at first; later, you will get to play as classic Batman villains, as well as any other characters you collect, which are useable once you unlock Free Play mode. As always, making your way through each level is fairly straightforward, but many times there will be places and items that are inaccessible during the first playthrough.

The problem with putting an unfamiliar storyline in a Lego game is that without talking characters and famous scenes, there’s really not a whole lot to follow. Most of the time when playing as the Caped Crusader and his sidekick, you’re just making your way to one boss fight after another without really knowing why, other than they’re bad and you’re good. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, since the Batman franchise is prominent enough that even casual fans know about most of the characters featured in this game. However, during the typical speechless cut scenes, many of the jokes fall flat without a film or TV counterpart to compare it to.

As far as actual gameplay goes, there is a lot of fun to be had here. Fans of the source material will enjoy seeing environments from the Batman universe recreated in Lego form, as well as getting to play as some of the many awesome characters from the franchise. The addition of different suits for Batman and Robin allow them to use new abilities, like walking on magnetic surfaces, gliding, planting bombs (are we sure this isn’t Red Son Batman, now?), and diving underwater. Enemies also have unique skills, such as Mr. Freeze trapping people in blocks of ice, or the Riddler’s ability to use mind control. It makes the game less of a straightforward action game and just gives it a little something extra.

As much as I enjoyed this game, there are a lot of glaring problems that, as a reviewer, I just can’t ignore. First of all, Lego Batman doesn’t correct any of the problems that the previous Lego games had, and it gets less excusable and more infuriating every time. As anyone who has played a Lego game will tell you, two-player mode, while preferable, leads to frustration when both players are trying to do things in opposite directions. It’s easy for one character to get pulled to his or her death because the other character accidentally moved in the wrong direction. It’s also easy for one character to get stuck in the environment somewhere, with no way to get out. Trying to play the game by yourself can be equally frustrating because of the idiotic A.I. Lego Batman, like the previous Lego games, relies largely on teamwork, so trying to play through a level with a computer character getting itself (or you) killed every five minutes doesn’t exactly make for a smooth gameplay experience. Also, will someone tell me why there is still no online co-op? That just seems ridiculous at this point, especially since the game is so much better when played with an actual person.

In addition, the game is not without glitches. It froze on me only once, so it’s entirely possible that was an isolated incident, but considering that the same thing happened when I played the game at PAX, that’s a bit worrisome. There were other little things, like achievements not registering for one of the characters, or one player not being able to jump back into a game after being taken out for no reason, that marred the experience for me as well. It was never enough to make me stop playing, but it was certainly noticeable—this game could be a lot smoother.

Even with all of its problems, there is still a lot to love about Lego Batman, especially if you’ve gotten enjoyment out of the past Lego games and you’re a fan of Batman in general (check and check). Completionists will love the amount of things to find and collect, and with the unlockable Free Play mode and extra characters, the game has a fairly decent replay value. This game is a lot of fun, especially if you have someone nearby to play with. That being said, I can’t continue to excuse the problematic aspects that have haunted this series from day one, and I hope that Traveller’s Tales gets its act together by the time the next Lego game comes out.

3 Responses so far
  1. Jill a.k.a. The Nerdy Bird Said,

    I’m playing this on the DS but my bf has it for the XBOX. His game glitched out on him so badly he had to exchange it.

    The AI thing is a problem on the DS of course too and I really can’t stand it. There really is no excuse at this point.

    But I love playing the characters so I look past the flaws. :) I’m hoping/betting they do a Lego Harry Potter once all the films are done.

    Posted on October 2nd, 2008 at 8:39 PM

  2. Luke Brown Said,

    We had a few small glitch outs with our copy too. Hopefully if there is a Lego Harry Potter, they change it up a little bit, and fix some of the flaws. Still a fun game to play. Just wish I could be Nightwing in the story mode.

    Posted on October 3rd, 2008 at 8:09 AM

  3. Luke Brown Said,

    Oh man, I would love a Lego Harry Potter game. That would be awesome, provided they fix all the problems the current Lego games have.

    Posted on October 3rd, 2008 at 9:10 AM

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