No one’s claiming coincidence that LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and The Dark Knight Rises shared a similar release schedule, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt sales of the game. That said, the two instalments in the DC Universe are so opposed that it’s almost comical.
But then, that seems to be the point.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is a light-hearted game, poking fun at the franchise and reducing characters in the DC Universe – heroes and villains alike – down to caricatures of themselves: Robin is whiny and overly enthusiastic, Superman is smarmy and egotistical, and the Joker is just out for a laugh. And as simplistic as that might seem? It actually works.
For the first time, instead of all the characters mumbling incoherently like parents in a Peanuts cartoon, the characters are voiced. All of them! We get to hear plenty of interaction between the likes of Batman and Superman (who share a humorous animosity), and Joker’s boasts are as loud and obnoxious as you’d expect. The voices are fun, suitable, and add something to what otherwise might be “just another LEGO game.”
The mechanics of the game are exactly what you’d expect – the same as just about every other Lego game since time began (I’m looking at you, Bionicle Heroes). You get to take your character around and break stuff without repercussion, or run over innocent citizens (ahem, LEGO citizens, no blood or gore, naturally) in the Batmobile by accident without penalty. Jumping pieces mean something to build, and there are plenty of extras and secrets to find and collect.
Once again, we have special suits, some of which differ from the first LEGO Batman game, adding a little bit of freshness to this sequel. And, you get to play other characters, though Superman is certainly the most prominent addition to the game.
One of the key parts of enjoyment to this game is that it’s almost like two games in one: the missions, and exploring Gotham City. This game has the largest in-game world of all of the LEGO instalments, and it makes for a great experience wherein you can waste eons wandering around Gotham breaking stuff before ever having to go and actually fight off the bad guys.
The sense of silliness is a nice change from the regular pace of the Batman franchise these days, which seems to focus on dreary, apocalyptic-style storytelling (reminiscent of the comic series for many decades). Here, you can think more… well, more 90’s Batman flicks, minus the rubber nipple suit. So long as you start the game realizing that it’s going to be a light-hearted, comedic romp, you’ll likely be satisfied with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes’ presentation.
It had been a long time since I’d played a LEGO game, and right off the bat, I would have appreciated a tutorial. Unfortunately, the tutorial aspects of the first level really only extended to special skills – and while there aren’t a lot of buttons to choose from, I struggled initially with remembering how things worked.
And the first level… oh, the first level. Tedium beyond all tedium. Because this is another Lego game, there’s always the risk of developing staleness in new titles. One could argue it’s a case of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, but when you’ve just come off heavy releases like Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars, there needs to be a measure of caution that your fans don’t get bored with what’s being offered. That said, the voice acting and Gotham City exploration did serve to temper that somewhat, though personally I didn’t feel that I was having an enjoyable experience until well into the second mission.
Puzzles are fairly simple, in order to make the game accessible to all ages, with some complex moments thrown in placate the older players. It’s nice, but once you’ve figured out how things work, the same types of puzzles come back again and again, so by the end, it’s easy to just go through the motions rather than think your way through the game. Now, this could be considered either a good or a bad point, depending on how you like to play your games, but it’s worth mentioning in case a lack of challenge for the grey matter influences your choice of gameplay.
While the title does run the risk of being a repeat of previous LEGO games, on the scale of pure fun and silliness, the game does the trick. The voice acting adds a huge element to the game, and raises it above the level of “just another LEGO title.”
That said, the occasional clunkiness of gameplay and lack of innovative puzzle challenges will likely be a deterrent for the casual LEGO game fan, and you may be better off saving your time and pennies for a future LEGO game in hopes that the series will undergo a bit of an update (including improved graphics… please?).
Overall, the game is just what you’d expect from a LEGO title, with the added bonus of the aforementioned voices and exploration. For the DC Universe fan, hardcore LEGO fan, or even Batman enthusiast, this will be a welcome title on the shelf. If you’re short on patience and eager for more of a challenge in your gaming, you’re best off leaving this one for now.