Xbox 360 Review: Lego Batman

Does the Dark Knight make a good Lego transition?

The Lego games have been met with mixed criticisms. Some have loved them while others didn’t and think that it’s getting a bit long in the tooth, as Lego Indy proved that the series retained the same gameplay and not much else. Despite such criticism, the Lego games have gone on to sell very well and become quite popular.

Both Lego Star Wars and Lego Indy took you back through their film library and produced levels based on them, this is where Lego Batman differs…it doesn’t follow any film, instead it has its own original story, a first for the Lego games. Batman and Robin take place in 3 original stories against his old enemies such as the Riddler, Two-Face, The Joker, The Penguin and a cast of others who you won’t know from any Batman film, but from comics and the Batman cartoons over the years, true Batman fans will recognise most of them…I can’t claim to know them all, but the game does a good job of explaining their backgrounds in loading screens to fill in the blanks.

Besides playing as the good guys, you can play as the villains in their own twist of the 3 stories that the heroes do. Each story contains 5 levels, so there are a total of 30 story missions and 2 bonus levels for you to do. The Lego formula hasn’t changed much, you still tend to smash everything you can see and build items and pathways to continue. Most hidden items like red blocks and minikits still can only be captured in Free Play mode with the help of many characters, it was great fun in the original Lego games but now it’s starting to feel a little old hat, a case of “been there, done that”. Of course, if you have never played a Lego game before, then this is the perfect one for you to start out with.

You can play the game through local co-op, but sadly online play is once again lacking. It seemed to work so well with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, so why it’s been removed from Indy and now Batman is beyond me, apparently they claim that it didn’t work too well and it was for the best, maybe it was…but we’ll never know if thats true now, will we? With the previous games, you had to choose characters to blow things up and activate things that others couldn’t, while the same still applies; there isn’t nearly as many characters to choose from. This is thanks to the fact that both Batman and Robin can put on different suits (or select them in Free Play) that can allow them to plant bombs, climb metal pathways, dive underwater, glide and even break glass with a high-pitch sound device. Robin can also access computer terminals and remote activate vehicles from it, it’s pretty handy to say the least.

Each level has a total of 10 minikits to find, so that brings you a total of 300 to track down. It’ll take a while since some can be very elusive, but there are some nice features of Lego Batman that will help you hunt them down, such as a minikits detector. Of course, you’ll need to find the red blocks to make them available to buy (or you can be very sneaky and cheat your way to having all the abilities and many other things, plus it doesn’t affect achievements…or so I hear).

All in all, Lego Batman does feel a little too brief. I remember playing Lego Star Wars and it took me quite a while to get the full 1000 gamerscore, Lego Indy is the shortest of the bunch but I was expecting Lego Batman to be on the same scale as LSW in terms of length, instead it ends pretty quickly…but not too soon, the gameplay does become a bit repetitive and the game doesn’t unnecessarily drag on. What’s great is that you can play what levels you want from the start, you can just mess around or become very involved and try and hunt down everything the game has to offer. Achievements are fairly straight forward such as making you shock the Joker with the Joker in Free Play, collecting all characters, maxing out the stud counter and so on. Some like back flip with Robin for a set period of time can be tough, but it’s not impossible. The visuals in Lego Batman are pretty smooth, of course it won’t win any graphic awards…but it does a good job for the most part. The audio is classic Batman, so fans shouldn’t be disappointed…I know I wasn’t.

The Verdict

Lego Batman shows that the Lego games are getting a little old, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. I had a riot with the game and I’m sure you will too. The Dark Knight may not have a next-gen hardcore game just yet, but this will do until we get one.